Saturday, September 29, 2007

Erika's Freedom

My first marathon is one week away. Seven days, fourteen hours to be exact and I am extremely excited! I've been training for five months and I can't believe that when I started I could hardly run twenty-six minutes let alone twenty-six miles!

Just before I hired running coach Patti Finke from Team Oregon my wife and I ran a 4k race in Central Park. We were huffing and puffing from the start but it was a beautiful day and the crowd was friendly so we continued to grin and bear it as best we could. Around a mile or so into the race a little girl around ten or eleven years old came skipping past us with energy bouncing and beaming from her every pore. Erika, we came to learn was running her first race with her Big Sister. Erika was as beautiful as only innocent children can be, having fun, enjoying the day and being truly present and in the moment. I couldn't help but make a connection with her and told her that I liked her running style as she seemed as loose and limber as an elastic band. Ah, to be that free in mind, body and soul! She slowed to our pace, flashed a 100 watt smile and said, "I'm having so much fun!" It showed. She was and her energy, innocence and joy filled my lumpy legs with hope and energy. My wife was smitten too and after Erika sped away towards the finish line like she was running on a fast moving cloud, my wife and I had a smile plastered on our faces grateful for our meeting Erika.

Leave it to a child to be so free such as Erika. Every weekend when I run my long runs in Central Park I hope that I'll see Erika again and when I become tired or uninspired to go any further I think of her and her presence and joy and it carries me another step, another mile. Erika, wherever you are, thank you. I hope that you never lose your sense of freedom, your joy, your smile and your sense of wonder. Don't become an adult who takes life too seriously, who makes excuses that you have too many 'adult responsibilities' to laugh, to skip, to bounce, to wonder, to run, to just be.
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