We ran 4.5 miles on Sunday, my younger sister and I. We left my driveway, headed East and followed the main roads out of the neighborhood.
I’m much slower than she but she stayed with me anyway. We chatted a little which is unusual for both of us as we typically run solo.
I told her about our Lean In Columbia group, who had joined, what our plans were, and how excited I am about the future.
We crossed over the community road and into another neighborhood where we ran the back side of the top loop and then down into the bottom loop and made the full circle.
We talked about our running habits, what we like about running, how we motivate ourselves, how we keep warm.
At the bottom of the first big ascent I stopped to find inspirational music. I chose the Rocky song "Going the Distance."
We were in mile three. We kept the pace. At the stop sign we turned right and took the long way home.
“Go that way,” I said, “Just because I don’t want to run doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.”
On the back side of the upper loop there’s a much longer, much steeper hill. Heading up it, crossing into mile four, it feels like a mountain.
“I didn’t realize it was this steep when we ran down it earlier,” Kristen said.
“I know,” I said, “And at the bottom, you think the fire hydrant is the top, but it’s not. There are 75 more yards of steep past the hydrant.”
We made the top. We kept running.
Around the bend and back to the community road. We turned right and followed the two-lane, 45-mile-per-hour, no sidewalks, grassy-shoulder road around the outside of my neighborhood.
The road is flat but narrow and after the first bend it stretches out and disappears around another bend. The distance is about a half mile but it looks much further. The neighborhood entrance, the end of our run, can’t be seen for several paces. Then when it can, it’s another half-mile-that-looks-much-further away.
We ran on, single file, Kristen in the lead.
“Run your pace,” I told her, “I’ll try to keep up.”
The Map My Run app said, “four miles” into my ear.
We ran on.
The distance between where you are and where you want to be can sometimes look further than it really is. And sometimes there’s a bend that hides the next milestone.
But you just keep running.
Even when you don’t want to.
Even when you think maybe the person you’re with doesn’t want to.
Even when you’ve lost the breath for chatting and your feet feel heavy and your soundtrack isn’t getting it done and the app reminds you your pace is slow and the wind is blowing in your face and the Sunday morning traffic isn’t giving you much room on the shoulder.
You just keep running.
Even when you feel discouraged or wonder what else you could possibly do. Even when you feel indignant and want someone to apologize. Even when you think things would have been different if you’d done something about this earlier. Even when you think things will be different if you correct your course right now. Even when you know correction is the end of one thing without the beginning of another.
You just keep running.
We reached the far entrance to my neighborhood and turned up the final hill and I thought for sure Kristen would start walking and we could cool down in the next three tenths of a mile.
But she ran on. And I followed.
And we made it home, only it looked different now, approaching from the West. We were sweaty and tired, equal parts flushed and frozen, stinky but smiling, changed in some invisible way.
Later that day I text her, “Our run today was metaphorical: long finish, couldn’t see the end, just kept running and made it ‘home’ which looked different from when we left.”
There are about a million lessons one learns while running: perseverance, strength, endurance, motivation, patience. I have songs and mantras to get me through just about every pace.
Following my sister, watching her decide to continue, to push through, to finish strong, gave me a new lesson: sometimes the best place to lead is from second place.
What do you do to remind yourself to keep moving forward? Run? Walk? Write? Leave a comment and share your renewal habit.