Runners Aren’t Invincible

How can I keep going when someone this vibrant is gone?
Running did not make her invincible. 

On December 10, 2014, my motivation disappeared and I decided to stop running. That was exactly one month and one day after I ran a one hour marathon PR, that’s right one whole hour in the Soldiers marathon. No, I wasn’t tired of running, I wasn’t mentally exhausted, or any of the normal reasons people stop running. I just did not see the point anymore. I know, I know. I am the one who eats miles for breakfast and seemingly runs every day. And yes, I now failed to see the point anymore.

I did not see the point anymore because I noticed that all around me people were dying, young, healthy, and vibrant people. These were the ones who were eating right, exercising regularly, and who were genuinely good people. People like my training partner and best friend, Yvonne were dying while some lazy people sitting on their couches constantly eating and drinking highly salted, highly fatted, and highly otherwise unhealthy things were thriving. Okay, I’m sure I’m way over-simplifying things, but you get my drift.

So, running just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t necessarily going to stop me from dying. So what was the point? Why should I continue to run at 4am when chances are I could not run another day in my life and just be fine? I wallowed around in this feeling of futility until I read something on my Facebook feed. It was from a woman in the group Running in the Pink which is a group for runners (and other athletes) who have or have had breast cancer.

She said that she was getting ready to run a half marathon and she was at 40% lung capacity, her skin was itching from the chemo, and a list of other things. She wasn’t complaining. She was asking for advice, support, and prayers. And she got a lot of all that. Many replied from their own experiences with her same issues, others offered medical and homeopathic solutions. Others of us, myself included could only offer high fives and prayers because hers is a journey that I have watched only from the sidelines. But she reminded me of someone who I have problems thinking of in the past tense.

Meeting friends to share miles for breakfast at 4:00 a.m. is living.

That is when it hit me. She was fighting for her life. Not only with the medical stuff, but with the spirit of a warrior and the the spirits of the other warriors who closed ranks around her. She was living and making no excuses for it. She was not begrudging the lazy couch potatoes or comparing herself to her former self. Not at all. She was doing the best she could to get through her half marathon which is a feat even in the best of circumstances. It was amazing. It was truly inspiring. It was truly uplifting. It was truly the dose of reality I needed.

So I dried my tears, laced up my shoes, and ran. And I ran. And I ran. I ran for those that I lost, I ran for those who no longer can, I ran for those who hope to run again some day, and I ran for myself. No running isn’t the magical mystical cloak of invisibility that will keep me from dying. It is the thing that will help me keep living.

I eat miles for breakfast, or occasionally for a snack later in the day. Self proclaimed 50+ and fabulous poster child, US Army vet, college professor, avid runner, yoga enthusiast, guest columnist, and I've used Olay since I was 17 so they should use me in at least one of their ads!

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  1. “No running isn’t the magical mystical cloak of invisibility that will keep me from dying. It is the thing that will help me keep living.”

    That is beautiful. I feel that way about my running, too… but I don’t express it as eloquently as you did in this post. I am sorry for the loss of your friend- she does sound like an amazing and vibrant person.

  2. What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m glad you’ve found your way back to the roads. Running motivation is different for everyone but I’m in your camp – running makes me feel alive and I’m going to cherish that feeling for as long as I can.

  3. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful message.

    I run because, right now, I feel like running.
    I’ve yet to find anything else that is like running – not even close.
    I sometimes wonder what I’ll do when/if the day come that I’m unable to run.
    I also know, someday, I may not care to run.
    That day is not today. And so I run.

    I’m thrilled to know we’re sharing the streets. I hear they’re serving miles for breakfast. All you care to eat.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. And it is good that right now for both of us today is not that day. I am glad we are sharing the streets as well and I love an all-you-can-eat-mile-buffet. That is an awesome title for a blog!

  4. Doretha, I can empathize with your struggle. While my struggle is with bouts of PTSD from severe child abuse, I know so well that feeling that it just doesn’t matter anymore. And like you so eloquently shared, it is not until I put on my running shoes, against my better judgment, that I slowly begin to make my way through the cobwebs and haze that medication and therapy still can’t fix.

    I’ve always been taught that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but I think most of us find that God sometimes overestimates our capabilities. I can only offer love, and tell you from my honest heart that I think of you – and Yvonne – quite often. She made a mark that is not gone from this world. And perhaps she has now entrusted you to carry that love on.

    Sending love, warmth and healing.

  5. I have a friend from college who ran and recently suffered a heart attack and died .. at the age of 38! So stunning and heart breaking. No, running won’t necessarily save us from what lies ahead, but it sure makes getting there way more fun. So glad you shared Yvonne with us and brought us this very important message. We are so lucky to have you in our big Salty Family!