There are so many reasons why I love to run - far too many to count. There are the obvious physical and mental challenges and benefits, such as adrenaline and endorphin highs, calorie burning so I can eat more, and healthy lungs and heart. And there's also the fun - wearing tutus in public, playing with my family and friends, earning medals, being outside, accomplishing goals.
But the community is also a big part of why I love it.
Most runners are more than happy to chat with other runners about their passion, smile and wave when we pass on the street, commiserate after a hard or stormy or crazy run or race. While we are all very different and have different speeds and goals and stories, we have so much in common. We are bonded in a special way, just because we are runners.
I belong to several online running groups who support, cheer, encourage, advise and share online and in person. Though I've never met most of these people, and some are across the country, I can turn to them for an atta-girl or a pity party - whichever I need at the time.
We also know how to come together in tough times. I've run many times in honor or in memory of someone I never met - someone whose story was shared on social media, someone who needed a hand or someone who died while doing something we all do every day.
Those stories are sometimes gut-wrenching, and they hit hard because there's not much difference between me and a woman out on her morning run in Montana, a man on his run in Texas, or a bunch of people at a race finish line.
Last week, a 53-year-old man was running on a trail in Texas when he was "hacked to death" with a machete. The suspect is in custody.
Immediately, the running community stepped up. His local running club organized a memorial run in his honor. The news spread on Facebook, and soon a virtual run was planned around the world.
"For your last mile, we ask that you pause your conversations, turn your music off...and just run. Run fast. Run slow. Run because you can. Run because there are so many who can't. While it is a fantastic thing to be able to celebrate...let's collectively, respectfully, and silently dedicate that mile to David Stevens."
So yesterday, people gathered in Texas to run for Dave. And people around the globe dedicated their runs to a man they've never heard of, but he's one of us.
I did my tempo run on the treadmill. And when my Netflix show ended, I turned off the TV and ran the rest of my miles in silence - in reflective prayer and thanksgiving.
Today, I nearly cried as I scrolled through the Facebook page at all the photos and short stories of people around the world who came together to support our community and to support Dave's friends and family.
Just a tiny sample:
** Ran 6 miles today - the farthest I've ever ran - in honor of David Stevens. My prayers are with his family and loved ones. #runnersunite #irunfordave
** Silent run all the way from Sheffield Lake, Ohio #irunfordave #RunnersUnite
** This is the view I saw when my one silent mile run in honor of David Stevens ended. Though I didn't know David, I like to think he would have enjoyed running here.
** Walked a little over three miles on deck of my ship this evening, in Dearborn, MI, in honor of cousin Dave.
** Today I ran to honor David Stevens. I ran loops around my pond in Grand Rapids, MI. Gorgeous autumn colors. The run felt very heavy. Stevens family, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Peace.
** Ran as hard as I could for 3.17 miles in honor of David Stevens, who was
brutally murdered during a run last Monday. 7:15 minute miles...fastest
pace in a looooong time, just for him. Many prayers and thoughts for
his family. #irunfordave #RunnersUnite
Run on, friends, run on!