by Patrick Reed
Few things tax us like waiting. Whether we are awaiting an impending and expected action — as in pre-race weekend excitement and jitters — or whether it is waiting to see loved ones from whom we have been separated for what must be an interminable hour… waiting is taxing.
But waiting can also be exciting. When we await that “first look” towards the back of the church on our wedding day, and when we await the news of how our daughter ran at the championship meet while we were away on business — we wait with an exuberant anticipation.
And sometimes waiting is simply pure agony. Take, for example, our pacing the hospital corridors concernedly… hoping that the surgery did go well.
All of these categories of waiting are taxing to our psyches and emotions, and – as we have recognized – frequently they can be filled with a joyous element, too. And so these days, as I wait again to run, I am hounded by the many varieties of waiting which I have described.
Yesterday, I waited with maturity – happy to have a restful day without guilt, now that I am reconciled to a time of healing. But today, the more debilitating form of waiting has me in its grips. I LONG to run across the back side of the mountain which just this minute looms brilliant across the lake from me. I can’t wait to tangle in the scree and brambles of the rocky, narrow paths which course left and right and down along the ridge. I look eagerly for the hours when I can run into and out of the shade and blinding sunlight, intermittently, racing against myself and finding my joyous way. I even long to just jog. Just to run gently and without any type of pain or strain or tightness at all. And I dream of how it was so many years ago, back on that high school soccer field — running the perimeter with my best friends. Back then, we navigated again and again the rutty footing and the narrow path in-between the backstop of the blank baseball lot and the silver unforgiving benches of the dugouts. It seems like only this morning that we were making the sharp turn behind home-plate to end our interval.
Back then I was invincible. I never strained anything. No, I was not one of those runners so prone to shin splints which, like clockwork, at the stroke of the third week of practice, ruined my season again. Nope, healthy as healthy could be was my plight. No way to duck the pressures of the relentless meets which, like waves, kept coming — every 3 days without let up. I was never injured.
Any yet here I am, all those years later. Still yearning to take the field, to line up before the starter’s gun, I am somehow sidelined, sitting on those proverbial benches in the dugout of distance running.
There’s not supposed to be this waiting in our sport. What we do as runners is not wait.
So I discover again yet a new element of our wonderful sport: that of setting the shoes aside for a time to heal. And to reflect. And to remember how precious is the distance run.
image credit: artbywicks