Yesterday, I ran 10 miles on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has been a strong running day for years. I'll trace back to 2011. In 2011, I ran 12 miles by myself--warm enough for shorts but encountered some sleet. In that year, I ran a little alone, then with Back on My Feet Team Christopher's Place, and then with the team coach a little bit extra. That was fun. Two years ago I did a track workout by myself. Last year I ran a half marathon distance by myself. And yesterday, I had a 10 mile run that concluded a wonderful year of running with the training partner with whom I ran the most times and most miles this year.
The temps were in the mid-60's. It was raining when we began at Lauren's house. It rained for about half the time we were running. It was windy, and the wind was most often coming toward us--blowing the rain at us making the caps that each of us had on less useful for keeping rain out of the eyes and slowing us down. But we carried on our run and carried on a conversation about everything from what we knew about different races (particularly ultras) to seeing the latest Star Wars movie (which neither of us had done) to my lack of attention to where we were running yesterday. Lauren concluded that a lack of attention might actually benefit me in the ultra race that I am going to run in May--it might make the miles feel less challenging. The "back" part of the out and back run was less rainy but just plain humid. The water in the Inner Harbor was very high--indicating the abundance of rain we'd had recently. And for the third day in a row there was really no sunrise to speak of as the clouds and rain continued. It was so warm that a cold drink of water immediately when we finished was incredibly useful.
We also went to mass yesterday--as we have every Christmas Eve since I was a young boy. Yesterday was the first time since we were a family of five (I'll even count 2004 as Daniel was only three days from being born so everyone knew that he was with us) that not all of us were at mass together. Four of us were already at the family resort where we have vacationed at this time of year for many years. Our oldest was still back in Baltimore to play at a Christmas Eve mass and another gig on the day after Christmas before he eventually joins us. The mass was at the Holy Infant Catholic Church in Elkton, VA. We arrived early (we didn't have to arrive quite as early as we did, but we got four seats together) and were chosen to bring up the gifts. This year the boys were old enough to carry both the unconsecrated hosts and the wine so Sherry and I were just along for the walk up the aisle.
The readings the priest chose to use were from the midnight mass. They began with the reading from Isaiah in which it talks about how the people in darkness have seen a great light.
And that is where today's tie-in between running and spirituality comes is. Over the two previous days, I'd had the opportunity to hang with two other fellow runners with whom I don't often have a chance to hang outside of running. Each of these people is part of the light that I find in running. And with one of them I had a long discussion about being light for others and how runners are people who tend to be seekers of self and seekers of light.
So, despite the little natural light that we saw on the run yesterday (there was plenty of light from the streetlights) the light of running itself is something that was experienced in full yesterday. Physical challenge with the cardio and strengthening. The joy of spending time with others. Conversation (everyone who reads this knows I love words.) And the spirit of being connected to something larger. Running the streets of Baltimore is not like running on the open plains chasing wildlife for dinner as our ancestors did, but the fact that our ancestors did shows just how primal running can be.
And the ideas of all this--the challenge, companionship, conversation, and connection--are my part of my path to being light for others not just through running but through life in general.