Twenty-one miles ago, I drove to the University of Oregon where I was to meet my coach, Joe Henderson. Joe is quite a guy, and though I've written about him before, I don't think I have quite captured what he means to me. Anyway, I ran a few miles early, to get ahead of the heat and ahead of the team. The group run was only supposed to be seventeen, so I needed to add some of my own. I did a two mile out and then two miles back, which gave me four. Then I followed the path of the others.
(Insert heavy sigh)
So, here's the thing. I was so exhausted and emotional at mile twenty that I knew I had to just run to my car and get inside and cry. Seriously. I would have cried out on the bike path, but the last time I did that (right after Lij was killed in a car crash a few weeks back) I thought one of the walkers on the path was going to call a paramedic for me...or Cahoots. Anyway, I sent my coach a text and said, "I'm just going to run back to my car so please don't wait for me." Then I ran to my car and cried, as planned.
When I got home, I showered and then I collapsed on the couch. I may have slept. Who knows. But after a very long while, I got a text from Coach saying "I assume you just went home because I don't think you are running a 16 minute pace."
I wrote back immediately and said, "yes Joe! I went home. I am so sorry. I sent you a message and I am not sure who I sent it to."
Then I check my texts and it looked like I tried to text it to him email addressed. I felt terrible to make him spend his day waiting at Hayward field.
Here's the thing about Joe, this man who has never singled me out of having MS, never made me feel like a mascot that "we can all be proud of," never treated me any different than any other runner on the team. He said, "Hayward field is one of my favorite places to be and I don't mind at all." And even if he did mind, he would never let on. He's one of the best people I have ever met.
So, 21 miles ago, I was not in the mind set thinking about how much faith I have in humanity because of the actions of another. But right now, I surely am. Thank you, Joe.