Going the Distance

I couldn’t believe how awesome I felt after running 8K Tuesday night. Last week I decided to go 6K and felt confident. But after last night’s distance, something happened inside of me. Something was released. Something was finally freed.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always held the runners and bikers that went past me in life in a certain respect and awe. I was so inspired (and still am) by their physical endurance, by their strength, by their personal willpower that kept them moving forward. I wanted that. Whatever it was, I wanted it.

Biking was easy to get into for me. My dad bought bikes and helmets for me and my sister, so learning how to bike and biking around the neighborhood naturally worked its way into my childhood recreation. Running, however, remained an ideal and random activity until college. I ran around all the time and enjoyed physical activity. I just hadn’t developed a consistent fitness routine outside of being on sports teams. But who does that in high school anyway?

In college, I tore my ACL. Suddenly, the shape of my physical body was no longer something to be taken for granted. I wasn’t invincible anymore. The doctor told me that 6 months after my surgery, I could run again. Monday morning at 7:30, on February 11, 2008, I went under the knife. 6 months later, I was in Cannon Beach, Oregon, on the beach, out of breath after 15 minutes of running with a limp.

I got back in shape that summer, regaining all the lost muscle and strength in my right leg. Before being able to run, I had already been out faithfully power walking and biking as soon as physical therapy had taught me how to walk again and my range of motion was restored. But there was still so much muscle lost. I kept up the running and, as college graduation approached, started to think about training for a marathon.

Then I moved to Taipei, Taiwan, to be a missionary and teach English. Two months into my new life in a foreign country, I contracted an infection in my knee that sent me right back to the operation room and kept me in the hospital for 12 days; after the surgical removal of the infection, it was necessary for the medicine to be constantly fed into my veins until the infection index of my blood was significantly decreased. Motivation to get right back into shape afterwards was muted and set back quite a bit by the loud and immediate demand to make up everything that was lost after 2 weeks of absence from work and life in general.

There were inconsistent patches of going to the gym or getting on a treadmill. But there was still no streamlined focus for my physical goals. I would even watch movies about marathons and runners to inspire myself, but nothing pulled me out of bed in the morning to go do it.

Nothing until my friend Andrew died. 

I’ve always heard that death is great teacher and through great loss comes great gain. But these inspiring words really mean nothing until one experiences them, and I feel between my grandma’s death back in August (read blog post) and my friend Andrew’s passing in January (read blog post), I’ve experienced them. And my life has been changed as a result.

As a result, I love life life even more than I did before. As a result, I see every day as another chance to make dreams come true, for yourself and for others. As a result, I go for the goal and make productivity happen, rather than waiting for those ever-elusive moments of productivity I’ve wasted so much time waiting for. As a result, I love the people around me more. As a result, I have more intentional conversations. As a result, I’m going the distance, not only on the river when I’m out running, but in life.

My friend Andrew was given a great gift. It was 24 years of life here on this earth that he never took for granted. So I’m done taking life for granted and allowing precious moments to pass me by.

I’m going the distance. 

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