On an early morning trail run with friends in Northern California, I uttered this prayer to myself. It was one of the first trail runs I did after coming back from my brush with death. A perfect morning for a run, crisp and clear with dew still on the grass – it was breathtaking. I felt great. I was in the zone. Moving effortlessly along the quiet fern lined path, my breathing and heartbeat were completely synchronized. I just took it all in. Every part of me felt strong, as if I could run for miles. “God, please,” I begged, “don’t take this away from me because I love it so much.”
Initially I was told I would never run again. I couldn’t hear that. I wouldn’t believe it. Doctors would say; “you are alive; why do you care if you can run again?” However, there is a difference between being alive and living. Running made me feel alive. It reduced my stress. It was an activity my husband and I regularly enjoyed with friends. Eventually, I understood and accepted that I would not be able to run like I did before my traumatic event. But I wanted, I needed to come back in some capacity. Luckily, I met and worked with a cardiologist who was a runner. He got it - how important it was for me to regain that activity. We worked together to make it happen. I went to cardiac rehabilitation, ran at a slower pace and paid attention to my heart rate monitor. I listened to my body and took better care of myself especially when running, eating and hydrating regularly, stopping if I needed to. It wasn’t the same - I wasn’t as fast and didn’t push myself as much, but I was enjoying an activity with friends that I thought was gone. Over time, I learned the true joy of running. I could see how slowing things down, taking better care of myself prevented injuries and gave me longevity in the sport. It has been 30 years since I ‘begged to run’…and funny thing, I got much more than I thought I would.
If you have something you really love, something you are passionate about and it is suddenly taken away, I understand how you beg, even bargain to get it back. I still love running. I go on weekly trail runs, realizing running wasn’t taken away; it was changed for me. I no longer sprint a 7-minute mile or win races in my age group, but I still run - and for that I am thankful. It brings so much fun and joy to my life. I took a sliver of hope and ran with it. Now, I enjoy running with my children and grandchildren. I take the time to appreciate what I have and what I can do. Like life, it is not important to get to the finish line first, it is to finish well. With this understanding and insight I now pray “God, please don’t take my appreciation and gratitude for life away from me, because I love it so much.”
With gratitude: Team Metahab