Why I ran around the Lake

This past weekend my family and I went to my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house on Cossayuna Lake, near Saratoga. I love visiting; they are such wonderfully hospitable people. Aunt Christa is a magnificent hostess, cooking the most delicious food, sharing stories and pictures and great conversation. Uncle Ron is also a conversationalist and is great at asking thought provoking questions. This trip was no exception.

I’ve written many times about our visits to Cossayuna, mainly about the runs around the small lake. The road encircling the water is 7.15 miles, mostly flat with a few rolling hills. I’ve run as many as 4 laps around the lake at one time, and ridden my bike around as well. Christa and Ron now joke with me about my loops. I’ll return from a run and Ron will tell me he came out to run with me, but I had already left, or he’ll ask what took me so long, he had finished his run long before I came back in. I of course laugh every time.

This trip Ron asked me one of those thought provoking questions. He asked me why I ran around the lake the very first time.

He got me thinking, why did I run around the lake that fall day in 2005? This should be an easy question, but I had to think about it. It was a few months before I got the Train to End Stroke postcard in the mail, so it wasn’t part of a training plan. I had tried running in the past, never getting further than a few miles. Why did I decide that day to keep going that day?

I remember telling Chris and his aunt and uncle that I was going for a run. I started out heading north around the lake. It was beautiful, the ducks, geese, a heron, homes along the road… I was really enjoying it. Then I got to the north end of the lake and started to wonder if I could make it all the way around. It was a crazy thought, the distance seemed unrealistic for sure, but I wondered. I kept going, up a hill to the west side of the lake. I remember struggling with sweat pouring down my face, but still wondering, can I? I didn’t want to stop. Then I looked across the lake and saw their house. I was half way! I realized I had no choice; if I turned around, the distance would be the same. I was excited about doing something I’d never dreamed was possible, but at the same time, I was scared.

As I continued on, there was a section of road that had no view of the lake and had very little shoulder to run on. I was nervous and tired and hurting. I walked a good amount of that section and feeling hopeless, I cried. Then I passed a house that had a bunch of chickens in their yard, clucking about, making me smile. Then I could see the lake again. It looked different from that side. I made it to the south end of the lake, part of which was on a major road with more traffic. I wished Chris would have been worried enough to drive the car over to pick me up, but alas, no hero. I was nervous, but made it to the turn to head back up the east side of the lake. Then came a huge hill, seemed like Mount Everest! I walked up that baby with no shade from the hot sun, seriously doubting my sanity. I made it to the top and headed in my last mile of the run. With about half a mile to go I saw Chris coming towards me on a 30 year old motor bike, what a comical site it was! He couldn’t believe I had decided to go all the way around and seeing my exhausted condition, he offered me a ride on the back of the bike. After coming this far, no way! I was running all the way around! And so I continued, right back to the house. Total time was nearly 2 hours, and everyone came out to greet me, congratulating me and taking pictures after I decided to lie on the ground. What an accomplishment! 7.15 miles! Around a lake! I did it!

So back to uncle Ron’s original question. Why did I run around the lake? It had nothing to do with bettering my pace or qualifying for Boston. I ran around the lake to push myself in a way I had never done before, and prove that I could.

Running around the lake has now become a metaphor for me. I’m not sure what my next “lake” will be, but I hope to always prove that I am strong enough to achieve something I once thought impossible.

So, what is your “lake”? Is it to run around the block? Is it to go back to school and earn a degree? Maybe your lake is to complete an Ironman? Whatever it is, I know you can make it all the way!

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