Azalea 10K...goes by a lot faster with friends

I have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with running. I love the idea of running and the feeling when it’s over. The rest of the time, not so much. But for some reason I keep coming back for more. Or at least I pretend to.

You see, I really only like running when all conditions are perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too sunny. Not too dark. Not too windy, but not too still. Not too many neighbors hanging out in their yards, but not so few neighbors that I feel like there might possibly be a natural disaster looming of which I’m unaware. I can’t be too hungry or too full. My knee can’t hurt that day and my kids can’t need me. I get that these are really lame excuses, but waiting for perfect is the way I roll.

Today, I was actually feeling pretty motivated. Kids doing homework. Check. Cool, but not cold temps. Check. Dusk, but not dark. Check. A healthy dose of stress that needed releasing. Bonus check.

So I head outside, walk across the grass, turn on my Garmin watch and iPod. Hmmm, a little cold and maybe it’ll get dark in a few minutes. But then a distraction – my friend Whitney is headed my way, and she is (ahem!) walking. We exchange hellos, and then I announce as if anyone cares that I’m going to run three miles. Wow, she says. She tried to run, but it was too cold. And off I go.

Soon I’m gliding past neighbors, singing aloud to some great tunes (yes, I know this is not socially acceptable, but I was in the groove). I pass Whitney a couple of times going the opposite direction and she gives me a thumbs-up – and I keep on keepin’ on. Three miles pass pretty easily. I even start to question why I don’t do this more often. Oh, yes, the waiting for perfect.

As I cool down, my favorite song from college starts on cue: “I’ll stop the world and melt with you..” Also, on cue, I stop and think of how many times I intended to wait for perfect. The perfect time to get married. The perfect time to have a baby. The perfect time to have a second one. The perfect time to buy a new house or start a new job. If I had actually waited for the Norman Rockwell painting in my head to come to life, I wouldn’t be married to my best friend or have two wonderfully quirky kids just two years apart. We wouldn’t live in our beautiful house that sat on the market a bit too long and really needs a bit more attention than we can give, or a job that is both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

I think how like running, life is hard. And with each stage, it’s the best when it’s over. I mean, have you ever noticed that the moms who say they just love the toddler stage are old ladies who have been renamed “Nana”?  Or the guy who gives you the “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life speech” is not so much working now, but instead playing a lot of golf? Marriage is hard. Babies are hard. Pre-teens are hard. And moving just plain sucks. But we do them, because they’re the things that keep us moving forward. And bring us unbridled joy from unexpected moments.

So back to the running. I think I’ve decided to try it a little more often. Even if it’s a little too warmish. Or windy. Or my knee can tell rain is in the forecast. Because while the running itself is hard, skipping it means I miss out on the really good stuff – Whitney’s thumbs-ups, the moon breaking through the clouds,  a song that takes me back to my sorority days.

For now, perfect is just going to have to wait.