I saw a contest to describe my breakthrough running moment. For a variety of reasons, I decided not to enter the contest but gave myself the gift of thinking through what that would be. What emerged surprised me, but shouldn't have. In many ways, this is a 200 word summary of my Ignite Baltimore presentation.
The quality of a run is sometimes measured by how fast or how far I’ve run, but it is always measured by how much meaning the experience provides. Thus, my breakthrough running moment was not based on a distance or time. I can recall events like my first three miler in which I kept up with teammates and my first half marathon, marathon, and ultra. I can also recall times like my 1600-meter PR in 1987 (4:41), my BQ in 2012 (3:14:25), and my marathon PR in 2014 (3:09:49). However, my breakthrough running moment came on an otherwise non-descript running day in 2011. I joined my first Back on My Feet circle and recited the Serenity Prayer before running. It didn’t matter what the time or distance was that day. That day, one idea finally crystalized in my mind: running is about more than personal fitness and competition. Running is about community, deep friendships (like my running daughter, running sister, and running guardian angel), giving, sharing, expressing faith, and mentoring. Since then I’ve viewed running as an opportunity to learn more about myself or someone with whom I run. My runner’s high comes from what I learn rather than endorphins.