When I was in middle and high school, my best friend (and cross country teammate) and I would frequent a local park with a 1.1 mile loop. We would run our entire workout together and then, sometimes after even seven, eight, or ten mile days, we’d race.
We’d line up near one of the mile markers and sometimes enlist one of the soccer parents to give us a countdown. Then we’d take off in opposite directions as fast as we could. We ended our workouts with a 1.1 mile race.
I can still recall hitting the last turn and seeing her (90% of the time) cross the line about 20 seconds ahead of myself. Sometimes, when it was really close, we could even get the soccer parents to cheer us on. We’d high five, fight to catch our breath, and talk about how we would know who was winning by where we crossed paths going opposite directions on the 1.1 mile loop at the local park in our hometown.
Earlier this month, I shared a blog post entitled, “This Year Has Been Really Hard.” It began, “This year has been really hard and I don’t know that I’ve always been the best version of myself.”
Earlier this month, I talked to a friend and shared the stresses of 2019, telling them that “at least it was almost over.” Surely flipping the calendar in 31 days would equate to walking away from all future negativity forever.
Earlier this month, I was ready to write off the last month of the year as another thing to get through, rather than a time to be enjoyed, a moment to be lived.
Earlier this month, I sat down and picked my final Essence of 2019: Vitality. Vitality being defined as the state of being strong; active; energy.
And it was declared. And it was so.
I told my family that we should do a step contest leading up to Christmas Eve. Even though I was the only one really participating, you best believe I was on those western Pennsylvania hills every morning. I fell in love with the quieter vitality too, the morning routine of a cup of tea and an hour of reading. I ran. I laughed. I danced. I cried. I let myself feel everything and I accepted every single beautiful and treacherous thing that this month and this year had gifted me.
Earlier today, I went to the local park with the 1.1 mile loop and ran a timed 5K. I walked a mile with my dad and then ran another loop for good measure. It was 61 degrees in the middle of December in Western Pennsylvania.
And suddenly, I thought about something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. There was nobody on the soccer field. My dad was done with his walk. But it was beautiful at the local park with the 1.1 mile loop and I felt unstoppable.
I didn’t have anyone to race against. There weren’t any soccer games and the fields were empty. But I jogged back up to the path, reset my watch, closed my eyes, and ran.
Vitality was never just about what my body could do. Vitality was getting body and mind on the same page. Flying up that last hill with the breeze at my back and the finish line in sight, I finally felt, even if for one beautiful, perfect, fleeting moment, like I was doing the exact right thing.