Dave Griffin On Running: In the Midst of Heartache

Dave Griffin On Running
In the Midst of Heartache

I sorted through my clothes but couldn't find the black socks. I made a note to stop at the store on my way to the church, and then went outside to start my run.
It was a January morning in 1988. The cold air almost stunned me and snow covered the ground from a storm just days before, but I needed a run to calm my nerves. It was going to be a big day.
It was early, and the streets of town were vacant. As I moved past the buildings, I could see my reflection in the windows from the corner of my eye, and I couldn't resist the urge to watch myself. It felt good to be running well again.
The year before had been difficult. In a blessed life, it's the one time I'd rather forget. As if the days weren't already hard enough, I had to face them without running because I was enduring a serious injury. Since the pavement was off limits, I found myself in the pool to maintain my fitness.
It was in the midst of all of this that I first met her. I remember the moment vividly. She introduced herself as I was walking to the locker room. We talked for a few moments and then went on our way, but we said hello each time we saw each other after that. Before long, I was looking for her whenever I went to the club for a workout.
As I continued running through town that day, I saw her apartment in the distance. For a moment I considered stopping, but afraid she might still be sleeping, I ran past.
My pace quickened as I headed back home and I realized the tempo would have been impossible just months before. Progress had been slow after the injury, but I was starting to set goals again. To a competitive distance runner, goals equal survival. The hard work is impossible without understand what's at stake. And, by this time, I was working hard for both of us. I wanted her to be proud of me.
When the run was over, I walked for a while before going back inside. I've always enjoyed the quiet of morning, and the peaceful feeling was going to stay with me for a long time. I wasn't likely to forget anything about this particular run.
I showered, shaved and then got dressed. I stared at the mirror for a few moments thinking how much I hated the tuxedo, but I knew she'd think I looked handsome. I stopped by the store for the black socks, and then went on to the church.
In the years between then and now I've smiled at the irony many times. It was in the midst of heartache that I found my greatest love.
It seems somehow appropriate that it was running that led me in the right direction at a time when I didn't know where I was headed. Maybe you've noticed; running is the thread that holds most of the pieces of my life together. She holds all the rest.

Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at dpgflyingfeet@aol.com