100 Mile Running Challenge: Mile 1

Andrea found this challenge online to run 100 miles between now and the end of the year. I have been wanting to run more consistently and have also been wanting to write more often, so I thought it was perfect. I figure I could run and document it here in my blog.

Now, this is likely to be boring and odd to some (and I’ve probably already lost half of you meaning only two of you got this far) as it is an excuse for me to just get writing again. And, no, this isn’t really going to be a running blog because God knows I hate running! This will be more of the thoughts I had, songs I enjoyed or things I may have seen along the way (as I type that out, I don’t think it is something I would want to read!).

Anyway, here goes…

Miles Run: 1.0
Time: 10 minutes, 55 second (probably closer to 10:15, but I stopped a couple of time to wrestle with my ear buds)
Miles to Go: 99
Days to Go: 134
Average Miles Per Day Needed: 0.74

The run got off to an interesting start as my literal second step landed on a rock sticking out of the ground and I immediately rolled my ankle. However, I managed to shake that off and continue on what was a pretty miserable mile. This summer and past spring, I probably have worked out more than I have in years. This time last year, I weighed more than 20 pounds than I do now and before Covid hit, I was nearly 10 pounds lighter than I am now. However, I am proud of the progress I made and I know I still have about 30 pounds to go to get to my optimal weight and trying to exercise more is part of that goal. All that said, I have only run one other time in the last four weeks, so I wasn’t really ready for this.

My runs usually start at my house, go through the park our neighborhood is adjacent to and down to the school campus. With these short runs, I like to get the distance goal running straight out and then walk back…It gives me a chance to think about things other than how much I hate running.

As I was running, a song from the Hamilton soundtrack came on and I felt that was appropriate when it comes to writing…but I’ll write more about that another time (sneak peak: I am so amazed by the creativity of Lin-Manuel Miranda that I find inspiration and envy in it) because another song came on that hit me like a ton of bricks on my walk back.

I have a very strong personal faith. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school all my life and we send our boys to Catholic schools. However, we don’t attend church every week and I hold my beliefs close to my heart, rarely speaking about them. I have some issues with the Catholic Church as an institution, but believe strongly in the message of faith, hope and love that is at its core and often buried beneath a lot of other noise.

I also believe in signs…I think there are little things God puts in front of us to remind us that he is with us and that everything will be okay.

As Ben gets ready to start his freshman year in high school, I find myself thinking a lot about my own high school experience. While the early part of high school was difficult for me, the last year and a half was pretty amazing, mostly because I became involved with spiritual retreats. One, called Search was through my high school and the other, Antioch, was through my home parish. I don’t want to get into a lot of details on these, but they both had similar formats…Peers giving themed talks to their peers with other spiritual activities worked in. The talks had themes and we spent a lot of time and energy working on not just the talks, but the whole weekends.

In the interest of not boring you anymore, I’ll skip over most of the details (for now) and get to my point. The first Antioch retreat was at the end of my Senior year and my talk was the last one of the weekend. Its theme was “One Bread, One Body” with the point being to talk about how we, as a community, are the church. At the end of my talk, I incorporated the song “Show Me the Way” by Styx. I forget the context of using it in my talk, but since then, it has been an important song to me. In my mind, it is linked back to a time when my life changed as a result of my faith, my ability to write and my ability to write about my faith. It has always stirred something very deep down inside of me whenever I hear it.

So, today, as I was walking back, with a lot on my mind, this song came up from the depths of my running playlist (which is not really a playlist, just every song I own thrown together in one big pile) and it nearly knocked me on my ass. It feels like nearly the exact right song to come up for me at a time when I am not only struggling to to re-find my voice as a writer but also struggling with the process of writing. It swept me back to those days when I was finding my voice to begin with and learning what it meant to be a writer. And it moved me very deeply today as I wandered through the meadow of the part.

For me, it was a sign that I need to keep looking for my voice and a reminder of my faith. It also served as a vehicle (not quite a DeLorean) back in time to my high school years and reminds me of things I want to share with Benjamin as he starts his journey there (more on that another time).

The other part that got me, was the lyrics, which I included below. They hit home for what they mean right now. They seem so fitting in this world that seems so scary and dangerous right. It’s been nearly 30 years since this song came out (ugh…that means it’s been nearly 30 years since I graduated high school), and I still find the lyrics amazing for a pop song and that they are still so relevant (how does Styx get from Mr. Roboto to this?).

Anyway, those are my deep thoughts and emotional catharsis from a pretty crappy run/walk. Domo Arigato.

Show me the Way – Styx
[Verse 1]
Every night I say a prayer
In the hopes that there’s a Heaven
And everyday I’m more confused
As the saints turn into sinners

All the heroes and legends
I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside
So afraid that I’ve lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Please show me the way

[Verse 2]
And as I slowly drift to sleep
For a moment dreams are sacred
I close my eyes and know there’s peace
In a world so filled with hatred

That I wake up each morning and turn on the news
To find we’ve so far to go
And I keep on hoping for a sign
So afraid I just won’t know

Show me the way, show me the way
Bring me tonight to the mountain
And take my confusion away
And show me the way

And if I see a light, should I believe
Tell me how will I know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that I’ll get there someday
And please show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hopes that there’s a Heaven

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