Recently I calculated my mileage for the first half of 2013, and came up just over 1400 miles (1411.2 to be precise). Looking at the breakdown, that consists of a median run distance of 7.5 miles (not a normal distribution), and an average of 6.5 runs per week. My frequent work travel this year has resulted in more than 45 ‘double days’, which pushes the ‘runs per week’ number up. I have run on four pairs of shoes, with ~200 miles on my old Nike Free Run 3′s before I retired those and put ~750 on my ‘new’ orange Nike Free Run 3+. I’ve also put just over 400 miles on the New Balance Minimus before handing this off, and about 50 miles on the Merrell Vapor Gloves. With all of those runs, things can blend together so that the things that stand out include times like the -20F runs, the 95F runs, the day it was so hot and humid that my entire shirt was soaked and dripping, and so on. Oh, and nearly all of those miles were run alone.
But of all of the runs, the one that really mattered most was the shortest and slowest run I did all year – a four mile run/walk with a pace of more than 11 minutes per mile. It stands out for a single reason – I ran it with my brother. I have mentioned in past posts that in early April, the day after I celebrated my 47th birthday, when I recounted all of the amazing changes I have made in the past year, my brother suffered a massive ‘widow-maker’ heart attack. He ultimately survived only because he collapsed at his gym, which is part of the Princeton medical system, and because he had a doctor on the bike next to him and a defibrillator on the scene with a nurse on site to apply CPR.
Even though he survived, there were questions about how much damage was done to his heart, what his functional capacity would be, and what activity level would even be possible. Because he exhibited none of the classic symptoms and due to some of the readings they took, he ended up with an internal defibrillator in his chest. He got numerous tests over the first several weeks, and was allowed (and encouraged) to walk each day. Then the doctor said that some light jogging would be allowable, but was very clear on restrictions. After another visit he was allowed more activity, and so on. He is now up to jogging about 10 miles per week, though his interest has shifted more to biking based on how he is feeling.
So when we went to his house to visit and help him moving stuff from the old family house as he got ready to close on a townhouse, he asked if I wanted to go for a run with him. YES! Didn’t need to ask me twice!
There was nothing special about the run itself – I had cruised all over the roads of that development while I stayed at his place when he was in the hospital, so I knew the territory. As I mentioned, the pace was slow – I never really got breathing hard – and my brother had to stop after any hill to walk for a bit. I could tell he felt bad – more than once he said I could ‘run ahead’ or take one of the road loops at my own pace for a bit, or whatever. He wanted to give me an ‘out’ if I wanted to push my workout. As I told him – that sort of thing is very much NOT what this is about.
Because I really didn’t care about pacing or distance or aerobic activity level … at all. For me, this was a MIRACLE run. I still have fresh feelings of not knowing if my brother would make it out of his unconscious state; what his brain function would be; what activity level he would ever manage to handle. I really never thought about him running again – it was just not on my radar of ‘possible things’.
This past weekend I got the opportunity to have another ‘run that matters’ – with the crew at GearFest. We have already done posts showing off the fun that we have getting the editors (and spouses) together, but heading out for a run together was a very special thing to share. Last year Carly and I headed out for a 4 mile run which was great – I learned loads about her I didn’t know, and it was just fun. I am generally a solo runner, I don’t seek out social runs or group runs or whatever – I run at 4AM and in the evening when local groups run I would rather be with my family.
But I have found through races and the occasional social runs I have done that I really like running with others. So when something special comes along, I grab at it! Like with my brother … and like we did at GearFest.
This year we all went out – Carly, Judie, Dan, and myself. We are all at different places in terms of what races we are preparing for, other things going on, or what babies have just entered our lives. But none of that mattered – all we wanted to do was get out on the road together and get moving. We ran, we walked, we talked, and we had an absolute blast! Again, it wasn’t about pace or miles or anything else – it was about sharing the experience with people who matter.
And that is always something to remember – to make the most of the shared joys in life.