That was the text that came to my phone at 3:30 this afternoon. Of course, there’s only one appropriate response:
The text came from a friend of mine that I frequently refer to as my “sprinting buddy.” We first met at the gym a couple of years ago. He was in the early stages of trying to regain his fitness after a knee surgery that ended with a staph infection and landed him in the hospital. When we met, he had been cleared by the physical therapist to lift weights again but his leg was still weak and shaky. I admired his spirit from our first meeting. He wasn’t moaning about the years he lost fighting for his leg. He didn’t complain about the loss of fitness he once had. Instead, he talked about his dream to play tennis again and, even more, to sprint again.
Our casual gym discussion eventually turned into a weekly “leg day” workout. I delighted in coming up with exercises that would challenge him and his strengthening leg. He never complained (only would text me the next day to let me know if his legs were sore or not). Although, I did sense a wary look when I pulled out the Bosu Ball or the kettlebell:) We did squats and lunges. We balanced and jumped. And his leg grew stronger while we shared giggles over the customs associated with our mutual Norwegian roots.
Throughout that time, he still dreamed of sprinting, something he enjoyed and excelled at in high school when he was on the track team. His first tries that year fell flat. He just wasn’t ready.
At the end of that school year, I switched jobs and gyms. We lost touch for a few months. Then, I got a text asking if I wanted to meet up to run sprints. I was thrilled. We met at a nearby park where I watched as he wrapped his knee in a couple of layers of protective gear and jogged a couple of test laps. The mind was ready to run, but the body still needed convincing.
The look on his face while running that day was amazing as he ran the dream that had kept him going through the ordeal with his knee. The joy was contagious. I found myself pushing myself harder and having more fun than I ever had before while sprinting.
We continue to meet up to run sprints whenever we can. He has since well surpassed me (I think there may be some cheetah mixed in with that Scandinavian blood). Every time we run, it leaves me feeling so refreshed and relaxed, even through the wheezes as I struggle for air.
The parallels between our recoveries these past couple years have been interesting. He was cleared by his physical therapist about the same time I was cleared by my psychiatrist. We were no longer “sick” yet we had quite a ways to go before we were fully operational at the levels we were accustomed to. We both tried to push the healing process along on our own timelines only to be reminded that it wasn’t within our control. And finally, we both came through the other side stronger and more grateful than ever before.
So, what was with the something different? Normally, we run 100 yard sprints. He had worked his way to 200 yarders while I was training and recovering from the marathon (sneaky!). Today was my first stab at them. And, I gotta say, they were pretty awesome.
I love the feeling of running while giving 100%. I love the satisfied exhaustion I feel after sprinting. I love having friends in my life that are an inspiration. But most of all, I love to see people accomplish their goals and delight in the fruition of a dream.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish catching my breath:)