I can’t always tell when stars are lining up quietly around me to present me with a gift – a lesson, a bit of happiness, or exhilarating joy. But this time it’s simply unmistakable.
Shortly after my half marathon in May, I was browsing in a bookstore, waiting on my children, and my eyes focused on a book called Running on Empty, by Marshall Ulrich, an ultra-runner and adventure athlete who ran across America in 52 days at the age of 57.
It called to me.
After a mental debate about whether to buy the paper version or the less expensive electronic download, I decided on the latter and left the store empty-handed.
The next morning, I sat in my chair, opened the book from my virtual bookshelf, and lost myself in a most extraordinary story.
I read every word – right up to the end, and then I cried.
I felt sad. I felt the author’s loneliness and what seemed to be self-punishment as he pushed his injured body through the 3063 miles. While friends and supporters joined him now and then, he covered most of the miles alone, averaging two full marathons and a 10k daily. He surrendered unseen demons in the arms of his loving and supportive wife each night and he entrusted his body and its care to his support team while he was helpless to do anything other than run. I could feel the torture of his healing process.
What made the story even more dramatic was that he knew early on that he would not reach his goal of setting a new overall record for his effort, though he did set new records for his age group.
A good friend quietly suggested that perhaps the painful transcontinental run was symbolic of my former marriage. Determined to make it work, I pressed on, despite my injuries, but fell short of my goal of a lifetime love affair with Mr. N/A. The challenging journey made me stronger and brought me unexpected gifts, as only the masterful Universe can.
Yes. That’s it. I cried some more.
When I learned a couple of weeks later that this amazing man was going to be signing books locally, I jumped on the opportunity to meet him in person. Not only did I meet him, talk with him, and get a hardback copy of the book personalized for me, but I had the incredible, life-changing experience of running 3.4 miles with him in a small group run.
I am forever changed.