running because you need to

A while ago, I wrote on one of my social media updates that my soul had told me where to run that day. It was a little bit of a throw away line but, after writing it, I realised it really was true. My training plan tells me how far I have to run and my brain (with its ingrained need to follow rules) makes me follow that. My soul tells me where. Sometimes it needs to be close to other humans and is satisfied with my neighbourhood. Sometimes I need the familiarity of my home parkrun course where my brain is free to think of whatever it needs to because my feet know where to go. Sometimes I need to run beside the ocean. If I listen hard enough, I know where I need to run.

Yesterday I needed the You Yangs. Last week my friend, Vanessa, passed away at the age of 42 after a 4 month gutsy battle with cancer and yesterday I was travelling to her memorial service. I knew I had to fit in a run somewhere amongst that but really didn’t feel much like it when faced with an emotional day and a long drive. And then I thought about running out in the natural environment and knew that it was the right thing to do – a run Vanessa would have approved of and which I needed to make peace with exactly how unfair and awful it was.

Needless to say, it was an emotional 10km. I was glad to be out there on my own as anyone who came across me would have thought I’d lost my mind. I’d remember some funny story and start laughing maniacally. Or a song would come on from our college days and I’d start singing it at the top of my voice. Then the tears would flow and I’d have to manage the whole running while ugly crying thing. It was one of those runs.

I’m not generally a religious person but it’s hard not to feel the spirituality of running somewhere as beautiful as this. At one point, a kangaroo bounded across the track in front of me and I thought of Vanessa, how much she loved animals and nature and wondered if it was a sign. When the kangaroo stopped at the edge of the trail and just looked at me, completely still until I had run past, I knew it was. In whatever way, she was out there with me on the trail yesterday and I was grateful to have known her and to have been able to spend the time yesterday morning remembering and honouring who she was and what she brought to the world. I was grateful to have running as my medium to do that and that I’d listened to my soul when it told me where I needed to be.

So this one’s for you Vanessa. The world is a much better place for having had you in it.

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