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Nice Things Happen Sometimes

August 8, 2014

Just the other day, something rather amazing happened to me.  It really took me by surprise.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve sort of been trying to meet new people over the past, I don’t know, six months or so.  For too many years, I’ve been a shut-in recluse, and I knew that needed to change.  So I started doing things I don’t normally do.  I’ve actually met all kinds of people.

But throughout all of that, I met a new friend.  She’s a just a tad younger than me, and very thoughtful.  It’s not romantic at all.  She’s actually engaged to marry a very nice guy, who I’ve met several times as well.  They’re both great.  I was hanging out with her the other day, and for whatever reason, I told her that over the years I’ve given myself to daydreaming too much, and she pressed for details.  I laughed and said, “Alright.”

I told her how I’d been running eight miles every day that week when I normally only run four.  I was determined to keep it up for an entire week, even if it killed me, but I didn’t know if I was going to make it.  I was getting so tired and my body was giving out.  After four days of doing it, I ended up eating an entire baked chicken and then passed out for fourteen hours.  My body was going crazy.

I told her how it was such a challenge for me and I had a silly daydream that once I finished my last lap that Friday evening, a news crew would run up to me exclaiming, “Ladies and gentleman, this man has run eight miles every day this entire week! Absolutely incredible!  How are you feeling right now?”  Then they’d stick microphones and cameras in my face and I’d reply, “I’m so tired, but exhilarated.  I can’t believe it.  I actually did it.  I’m so proud of myself.”  Just as I finished, a crowd of cute girls would surround me, cheering, while others would open champagne and throw confetti in the air.  As the crowd sprayed me with champagne, another person would dump a Gatorade cooler on me, and I’d just sort of put my arms in the air and think, “Life is good.”

She listened and laughed, “You should do it.  Go the whole week!”  Then I told her, “Just two more days.  I can do this!” I didn’t think anything of it.  It’s just me in my own little world, being silly.

So Friday came and I’m at the track.  I’m pretty tired but keep reminding myself that this is the day.  Nobody’s around.  It’s just me, the trees, and the few squirrels who were running across the green lawn.  I’m in a Zen state, at one with the track.  The breeze is blowing.  It’s not too hot to run.  I chug down some water in preparation and start stretching my legs.

I gently lift myself up and down off the track using my toes, and make my way to the starting line.  I can feel the rubber beneath me through my running shoes.  I place my hands on the track and bend over, just like I did back in school when I ran track.  My thoughts run over and over, “Eight miles.  Thirty-two laps.  It’s not so bad.  I’ve done it before and I can do it again.  Whew.  Ok.  Here we go.  Let’s do this!  I got this!”  Then I take off at a nice, brisk pace.

First six or seven laps?  No problem.  Ten laps come, I’m feeling it, but I’m still good.  Fifteen laps.  Twenty laps!  My goodness, I’m feeling it.  Can I go on?  I can’t give up now!  I press forward.

Then I got to lap twenty-six.  The sun’s setting and I’d been out there a while.  I’m pretty well exhausted, just trying to make it through the final few laps.  All of the sudden a car pulls up and in the distance I see my friend entering the gate.  What is she doing here?  No matter!  I had to finish.  That’s all that mattered.  I was going to run thirty-two laps, and nothing was going to stop that.

She goes and sits in the front row of the bleachers, not too far from the track.  I ran by, waved, and she smiled and waved back.  In a very tired voice, gasping for air, I said, “I can’t stop. I’m so clos….”  I didn’t have enough air.  She seemed to understand and I kept at it.

Finally I was down to the last three laps, two laps, and then the final lap!  By that time it was hard to say what was keeping me up.  When you’re at the track, all alone, you wonder why you’re pressing yourself so hard.  But this time I had a spectator and I knew I couldn’t quit.  I kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing.  I trudged around the final turn and made it to the last one hundred meter stretch.  I normally have a policy of finishing hard but not this time.  I just wanted to finish.  I had to finish.  That’s all that mattered.  I just had to go the distance.  It wasn’t about victory.  This was for me.

Then I crossed it.  Thirty-two laps.  I had run eight miles for seven days straight.  Impressed?  You should be!

After crossing the finish, I put my hands over my head, gasping for air, and then walked in circles.  Realizing I’d finished, my friend stands up, approaches me, and then threw confetti in the air.  As I struggled to catch my breath, exhausted and bent over, I looked up at her and was greeted with a gentle smile as she said, “Congratulations.”  Then she did a little cheer.

I went and sat down in the bleachers, drinking some water with confetti stuck to my sweaty forehead.  I’m someone who can space out.  I sort of looked over at her and then looked off into the distance while blankly staring off into the distance.  I don’t think I was thinking about anything, I was just exhausted.

Once I sort of came back from wherever I was, I looked over at her, smiled, and said, “Thanks.”  What a nice person!  It’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time.  I was just in shock.

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