taking the long way

I’m not being judgmental here. I realize that just by making that disclaimer, I’m probably being judgmental at some point. But,

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I was just thinking…

A while back I had the pleasure of running the Savannah Publix Women’s Half Marathon. And by pleasure I mean that it was rough – through no fault of the organizers or the city or the man who single-handedly cheered runners on even though he appeared to have absolutely no clue as to what was going on. In fact, all those folks made the race a resounding success.

What made it rough was the one thing that is beyond anyone’s control. Yes, you guessed it. The weather. The night before the race, I was pretty sure it would be cancelled. And even the morning of, had I not gotten an email from the organizers saying it was in fact still on, I would have easily and without malice or regret, rolled over and gone back to sleep. But alas.

I was ok with a little rain. I mean I had done all my long training runs (um, all two of them) in the rain. I felt completely prepared. But lo and behold, the rain held off and it turned out to be only partly cloudy! But anyone from the south (and I guess other regions?) knows that “rain holding off” and a sliver of sunshine (translate that to mean heat) usually results in the dreaded humidity. And that, my friends can make a race rough, no matter your pace.

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Crawford Square Photo Credit: http://www.savannah.com/crawford-square/

The race was scenic. Savannah is replete with beautiful squares – the intersection of several streets with a bucolic garden in the center surrounded by historic homes.  One of the hallmarks of this race is to run around these squares. And by *around* I mean not through them – you stay on the road. You don’t make friends with the statue, or the fountain, or the big tree that is in the center of the square – you do the miles and run around the square. Unless you are that runner.

Cause if you are that runner, you run through the square. After seeing runner after runner cut the course short, the kind soul next to me, who became my serendipitous running partner, shook her head and rhetorically asked, “Why?”  And we just shook our heads in tandem. Was it hot? Yep. Humid? Like you wouldn’t believe. Did those little short cuts make much of a difference in anyone’s pace or time? Doubtful. But watching runners take the short cut seemed to take the wind out of our sails over and over again.

What made me think of that race and those squares so many months later? I think it has something to do with what we’ve all witnessed lately. It’s this weird juxtaposition of moments when people in leadership shirk their sense of responsibility alongside those moments when people with a fishing boat cross state lines to save strangers in a flood. I guess I’ve just been reminded in the last few days that the long way has the power to make the race worth running.

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Photo Credit: staff photo by Travis Spradling, TheAdvocate.com

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