So today I ran the Narragansett Half Marathon in Easton Mass. It’s July so I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking but I expected it to be hot so there was no surprise there. It was also humid but the big complaint I have is that it was hilly on the first half of this race in the sun, in the humidity which made it seem harder than it probably was. My legs started swelling at mile 1 which didn’t really please me but it’s July so suck it up buttercup and drink a LOT! I did and I also sadly walked a few times. Now it isn’t a bad thing to walk, I just don’t like doing it because I feel like a wimp but the hills felt so hard so when I needed a little break I walked a minute then moved on. I drank every mile and at every water station but by mile 8 I started beating myself up about being a bad runner and why do I do this and feeling like everyone else was just better prepared than I am. All lies I know but it always happens when you start struggling, at least it does to me. So here I am at mile 8 or so having the nastiest talk with myself and willing myself to not quit and keep stopping if I need to because I refuse to DNF (did not finish for those of you who may not run). I just won’t do it. I took a corner and ended up next to a nice guy who started talking to me. Now I have my headphones in but I’ll almost always take them out to talk to other runners. I love talking to people during a race. So out they came and we chatted a while about the heat and hills and in this short discussion was God’s message to me reassuring me that I wasn’t some stinky old runner. This guy, whose name I wish I had gotten, was from MD. He was here with his girlfriend who wasn’t running on a little mini vacation which included this race. I learned that he is running 17 half marathons in 2017 as a personal goal (WHOA!). I also learned that he was a pack a day smoker a year ago and just started running 6 months ago. Amazing to me. Here comes the lesson kids… when he asked me what my best half time was I told him 1:57 and he was floored like that was so amazing (I think so but you know, that’s just me!) and all of a sudden I felt like a good runner again. I was still struggling but I felt like time was passing faster and somewhere in the hilly heat of the last 4 miles I found strength in weakness if that makes sense. I pulled my head up and suddenly felt like I was pacing him. He in fact did drop back around 11 because as my poor running friend Barbara knows all too well, running with me can push you to the red zone without much effort. I’m not super fast but faster most days than she is so when we run I slow it down so I don’t stroke her out. So my friend from MD did drop back to catch his breath and on I went but with a renewed strength or maybe it was determination. Either way, I wasn’t in so much of a down spiral after meeting him and I have him to thank for that. You see God gave him to me as a pat on the back just when I needed it most as per usual with most of his lessons/ gifts to me just when I need them. I am grateful to have Faith and God in my life. I didn’t see my new friend again after we separated but he’ll stay in my memory as one of those interactions that bring you back to center when you’re teetering on the verge of losing your humility, reality and strength or your perspective in general. I’m glad I met him because I finished my race strongly and happy instead of dragging my ass over the finish line. Every race is different and we need to find the blessings that each one brings.