Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Run

I think this was one of my best runs ever. It wasn't particularly fast. I didn't worry about my heart rate. I didn't even stick to my training plan, but it was absolutely wonderful. I never want to forget it and what it meant to me. I got to spend time with all three of my best best friends - two in the flesh and one in spirit.

I spent Christmas weekend with my dear, dear college friend j00j in Evanston, north of Chicago, and her family. It was absolutely wonderful: we baked cookies, watched Doctor Who, went for walks, attended late night services at the church where her family has been going for generations, and generally enjoyed just having time together. I took a big chunk of smoked salmon from Pike's Place Market and it was absolutely delicious. And there was duck! QUACKQUACKQUACK. Yes, I did walk around quacking. I think it's a sign when every single member of the family bought everyone else dark chocolate for their stockings. It was the perfect Christmas.

But, of course, marathon training does not take time off for Christmas and I had a couple of short runs and a long run to get in. I set off after brunch & present-opening on Christmas under beautiful, sunny blue skies for six miles. I know it was Chicago, but the weather was perfect: it was warm enough to wear long sleeves and a vest and it was completely dry. I set off from my friend's house toward Lake Michigan, which was almost exactly a mile away. I loved that my route took me along the water front, where there were loads of families out on walks and kids trying out new bikes. There are beautiful views of the downtown skyline. And, I was listening to the new Christmas Wittertainment podcast, which was hilarious.

My first stop was supposed to be 3 miles away, but with some meandering (read: getting lost), I got there in 4. My other best college friend Jules is a very, very devout Baha'i and her grandmother is in the hospital, dealing with high fevers that have stopped her from having a procedure that she really, really needs. She's had a lot of ups and downs over the last few years and it's been very hard on Jules' entire family, especially her mom. I knew it would mean a lot to her if stopped by the Baha'i House of Worship (the only one in the United States) and read a prayer for her. I've always been an agnostic, but one who I believe understands how important religion is in the lives of others, particularly Jules'.

The House of Worship is an absolutely beautiful building (see above), covered in amazing, intricate carvings. I've been several times and it always takes my breath away. I left my Garmin with the volunteer at the door, because I knew it would beep when it lost satellite reception and took a seat. I read the prayer that Jules had texted to me several times, trying to concentrate on her grandmother and on the things that I wanted for every member of her family. It made me cry, but eventually it was just so peaceful. Earlham might have given my a Bachelor's degree, but I also learned how to center myself and open my heart. I was so glad to be there and to do what I could do to help Jules and her family go through a very hard time. (Even better, j00j & I skyped with Jules later that evening!)

My last stop was another mile away at the childhood home of the husband of my third (although, first) best friend, Duchie. It was so awesome to essentially give her a big, sweaty drive-by Christmas hug! We live on opposite coasts (FOR THE MOMENT), but it seems like we're never very far apart, really. It was pure luck that her husband grew up so close to j00j and it made me so happy that I could see her on Christmas.

After all the detours, my 6 mile scheduled run turned into 6.2 for the Home for the Holidays virtual 10k into 7 miles because I didn't feel like walking back so far.

This was a run where I got to spend time with the three most important women in my life, who are so different from each other, but who always inspire me (and who are so patient and supportive, even though I'm sure all three of them are ready to muzzle me when I start talking about the marathon and training). That was the best Christmas gift I could have gotten. (Second best: the Christmas running mix j00j made me with a techno remix of C is for Cookie!)