Saturday, December 27, 2014


Yesterday was the third consecutive Friday that I structured my life to run with Team Christopher's Place with the Back on My Feet Baltimore program.  There was a time when that would not have been a big deal.  I consistently made three workouts a week with Back on My Feet.  But since my job change in April 2013, I had gone less and less.  And with my training for the Philadelphia Marathon, I went even less.  But after I achieved the marathon on my life and a half marathon personal best a week later, I decided it was time to refocus my running a bit.  And, so, the journey to other running goals began.  One of them was weekly participation in Back on My Feet.  I had continued to run with many non-residential members of the group (i.e., volunteers from the community who run with the members of the residential facilities who participate) but in workouts outside official Back on My Feet activities.  The goal was to get back to feeling like I was part of the team.  And, I have started to achieve that goal.

What was fascinating about yesterday was that it was not just "any run".  On Christmas Evening after we returned to Baltimore from Philadelphia (another city with Back on My Feet), I was surfing the Internet for just a bit before going to bed relatively early.  The current Team Leadership posted on social median that neither would be able to attend the next morning and asked if anyone wanted to lead the circle.  I volunteered and also asked about routes.  Our coach was supposed to be there but just in case, I wanted some suggestions.  So, armed with all the information I needed, I went to bed early and felt comfortable with the idea.

Friday morning came along, and I took care of some work emails and prepared myself to run.  It was a bit chillier than it had been recently, so I had my running tights, a pair of shorts over top (to provide pockets), a long sleeve tight shirt, a short sleeve lightweight shirt, and a windbreaker.  Plus the little belt to carry my phone.  I drove to Christopher's place and did a quick half mile before the official start because I wanted to get 4.8 miles total yesterday.

Then, I went inside at Christopher's Place to see who was there.  One other non-residential member and seven residents.  I must say, in all the time I have run with Christopher's place the number of times the residents have outnumbered the non-residents has been small.  But we went with it.

We waited just a moment or two to see if a third non-resident member (the current coach) showed up.  He did not, so we just went with it.  Circle involves announcements (in this case, only one, that the long run for the weekend would start at 7 AM at the same location the next day).  Then, a quick look around to ask for any others.  Then, the question, "So, who woke us up this morning?"  The "So..." at the start of a sentence is not a necessity.  It is just a mannerism of mine.  In almost four years with Back on My Feet I have been a member and I shared coaching for a little less than a year.  But I had never started circle.  The "Who woke us up this morning?" is followed by the serenity prayer.  I have written abut the serenity prayer on multiple occasions.  I find the prayer comforting.  I find the prayer a call to action.  But I had never given the invitation to the prayer before.  There is something quite moving about calling people together to utter the words asking for serenity, courage, and wisdom.  The presence that members share in that moment is amazing.  The act of everyone saying it together is amazing as well.  (As readers can tell from my past few entries, having multiple voices together does tend to make a big impression on me.)

While running, we had only give go with us rather than seven.  The other non-resident went two miles with two of the residents.  I ran ahead with three others.  Two went four miles (yesterday's maximum).  I ran three miles with a gentleman who goes by Junior.  We talked about Christmas Day and our kids and our families and the food we ate.  Then we got to talking about how long I'd been with Back on My Feet and how I was trying to come back more often.  Junior told me that I was always part of the team and always welcome.  I had not realized how much just running with one person even one time would be appreciated.  When I finished the 3.1 with Junior, I circled back to help to get the distance I had set as my goal and ran in with one of the two gentlemen who had gone to run 4.  Again, the appreciation of the company was clear.

Sometimes, it is easy for someone who has run more than 4000 miles in the past two years to remember how much the presence of another can help when running even just 3 or 4 miles.  And how much keeping that presence can be worth to others who are looking for direction in their running and in their lives.  And while I had posted that starting circle was part of my #PayItForwardFriday by helping my Back on My Feet Team, it turns out that (as so often happens in life) by giving I received in ways that I had not anticipated at all.  

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