Run Your Own Race

I watch the trail of trail runners—traipsing through the forest, each on their own mission.

Some run the 10K course; others the half marathon.

Some run for speed; others run for bragging rights to their children.

Some run for the finish line; others run to enjoy being surrounded by moisture trapped under dense tree cover, sharp rocks embedded in Virginia clay, and the somehow soothing sound of insect warfare.

Though traveling the same ground, each runs her own course.

Life should be approached this way. We all run the same path, setting our own pace and choosing with whom we travel. Not allowing others to persuade us to run their race, and most especially not allowing anyone to steer us off course.

Often, I’ve allowed the choices and decisions of others to impact my actions, and either gotten too far ahead or too far behind the pace I want for my own life.

When my ex-husband chose a house for us to buy—a 3,100 square foot, five bedroom house with an intricate yard and an undeniable charm—I knew we couldn’t afford it or take care of it. I think I even said at much, at least once. But, allowing him to set the pace, I sprinted ahead into a home loan solely in my name and based on false income reporting.

Five years later, as I filed bankruptcy and awaited foreclosure, the terms sub-prime mortgage and greedy borrower had become the vocabulary of everyday. Had I followed my intuition and stuck to my personal motivation of financial caution, I may have avoided stepping into that first deep crevice which eventually led to so many more bumps and bruises.

In this case, and so many others, I strived to be the person he or others wanted me to be. I didn’t pick a trail and run it to completion. I wavered and faltered and struggled to remain constant, or motivated or positive.

Over the years, I’ve learned to set individual goals, representing my own abilities and motivations, and make each small decision based on whether it will help me reach that goal.

I began running trail races a little over a year ago. The challenge drives me to compete, but the real benefit of running comes from the practice I get in setting my own pace and running my own race.

Choices in life, as on the trail, must be made wisely, without attempting to catch someone too far ahead or pull someone along who remains behind.

I cherish the site of a forest crawling with determined faces and filled with the thunder of feet carrying runners to the goal calling them out onto the trail. I cherish, more, the time I’m on the course—without anyone audibly or visibly in front or behind me.

In these times, I know why I am here. I am here for me. I am here because I decided to be here. I am here to run this course and to go home tired and proud and ready to do it again.

Thanks to the Mountain Junkies for putting on the races that keep me coming out on the trails of Roanoke, VA.

2 Responses to “Run Your Own Race”
  1. Helen says:

    Great post! Love it!

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