Each time I am at the start line of a running race, I feel a twinge of nervousness that lets me know my competitive edge, although softened a bit, has not completely disappeared. This feeling reminds me of where I came from and where I want to be. I share my story in hopes it will offer someone else a chance to let go and live in 2014.
It was a family-friendly 5K race that meandered through the streets of a beautiful Midwestern neighborhood. It was a crisp, 42-degree fall morning, which made for perfect running weather. Beams of sunlight illuminated the frost-coated grass, causing the ground to shine like a field of diamonds.
After a short sprint at the start of the race, my husband and I slowed to a comfortable, steady pace. For a brief moment the wind picked up, and I regretted not wearing gloves. But after bending my frigid fingers a few times, and taking in a long, deep breath, a warmth that could only come from gratitude spread throughout my body.
About a mile into the race, I noticed a small competitor, (around age six or seven), eyeing me. With David Beckham hair, big brown eyes, and slick athletic pants swishing at a high speed, I couldn't help but smile. Although he was approximately five strides ahead of me, he would periodically look back to see where I was. At one point, he slowed long enough that we ran side by side. I feared he was growing tired, so I offered an encouraging word.
Either the child was truly encouraged or he simply wanted to get away from the overly friendly lady in the turquoise cap; he suddenly burst ahead.
The child's temporary acceleration was short-lived, and I quickly found myself running along side him again. I threw out another compliment and told him how close he was to finishing.
As we neared the end of the race, I could see and hear my children and young nephew cheering from the street corner. Not only did they share the same hair color, but they also shared the same disheveled look from a too-early departure time. As they stood in the morning sunshine, their inherent beauty seemed more pronounced in this natural state.
Oblivious to the many runners who had passed before me, my younger daughter called out, "Are you winning, Mama?"
As my feet hit the pavement in a rhythmic beat, I considered her question.
If she meant was I noticing the beauty of the sunrise . . .
If she meant was I enjoying running alongside my love of sixteen years and exchanging fist bumps every now then . . .