Today I ran 30 minutes and nearly three miles without stopping.
I am beyond thankful. I am weeping with gratitude.
It's not a huge accomplishment for most people but it is a big deal to someone who has lived a life of asthma inhalers and emergency room rushes, and then, years after breathing was enhanced, a tumor was discovered and a hunk of lung removed.
And so, running is a big deal. While my childhood was largely sickly and sedate, my adult life has not been inactive; I hike, ski and swim. Respiratory treatment has greatly improved since my first visit to National Jewish Hospital, where I lived as a child.
Still, until recently, running alluded me. I envied those lean, long runners. I wanted to experience legs and lungs working together. A few years ago, with encouragement from my husband, I started a slow jog — to the end of the street. I'd pant and wheeze and nearly cry with discouragement, and he would rally me to go just a bit more.
And then last winter my asthma flared. I couldn't run. A murky x-ray suggested infection, demanded stronger medication. This was no emergency. This was how I had always lived: try, progress, stall, repeat.
Last summer, my lungs stronger, I began to run regularly again. Encouraged by my sister, my friends at Daily Mile, and coaching from Running Mate, I have now — this week — achieved a 30 minute run without resting, stopping or stalling.
Now I realize how much running is like writing. I never really want to run but once I start a sense of wonder and accomplishment kicks in. I can do this! Each time, my body surprises me with its ability.
But, really, it never feels easy.
Writing often feels the same. Some days words flow and everything clicks. And the very next day I am stuck in the sludge wondering, How do I do this?
On the difficult runs, when the lungs shrink and the couch calls, my husband nudges me: Look how far you've come! And in the writing life, too, it helps to have friends and mentors, or just a crazy neighbor who appreciates your pursuit.
Running, like writing, like asthma, will offer both struggle and ease. I will start and start and start again. On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the chance to keep showing up, slogging through, and shining on.
It's Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a possession? A story, a song, a poem? What makes your world expand?