Memorial Day 2008.
Several of the Wild at Heart Staff annually run the Bolder- Boulder 10K. It’s a huge rite of Spring where 53,000 people and 26 Elvis’s run through the streets of Boulder Colorado. This was my inaugural.
Julie J. a Boulder native and Sue an Ohio import led the blitz… gazelles in motion, fluid poetry. Following them was my Lovely…Lori; sporting the new Lululemon line; a natural beauty firing on all cylinders. Soon thereafter, the always fleet of foot, the unfatigue-able and graceful one: Polly. At a notably reduced pace from previous years were long time runners Julie & PJ… (one of my life long memories will be of Julie in her seventh month of pregnancy, the most pregnant of the 53,026 tapping into her well stored reserves to “sprint” the final 75 yards into University of Colorado’s football stadium… with PJ, the Team’s designated Sherpa carrying sundry sweat shirts, change of clothes, sunglasses, a beach chair, half a carnitas burrito and a block of ice at her side). Rounding out Team Wild at Heart were some dear friends and family and of course… me; just a guy out for a run.
So… as I’m “running” I’m taking in all the regalia… the bands playing along the way (some of which were good and some not-so-good); one half-of-a-mile into the race there’s a wannabe comedian on the corner with a mega-phone cracking jokes that we’re “Almost there”; on the next corner were the unabashed belly dancers. Spider man passes me and I pass a guy in a cheap suit with an accordion. There’s a banana, a pine apple and a couple of M&M’s running. There are sombrero’s, short shorts, glitter, somebody’s favorite funky uncle… active duty soldiers. There was every shade of body paint, every age size and dimension, someone wearing a Nixon mask. The frat houses are hosing down runners; families cheering us on and offering free cookies. A woman twice my age passes me wearing a bridal dress…; the volunteers handing out Gatorade/water and doing traffic control…., a Hulk Hogan type, a few scoundrels, 16,000 hard-bodied fit runners, six gladiators, five Uncle Sam’s, four rainbow wigs, three frogs a hoping and a colonel Sanders in a pine tree. I pass a nut in a Steelers outfit (it wasn’t Morgan), a stoner on a unicycle playing a kazoo zips by… and everyone’s favorite, Big Bird,is running backwards… and did I say ever age size and dimension?
So many different stories in motion.
I couldn't’t help but wonder what is every one running from or to? I found myself laughing, crying, at times disturbed and mostly trying to remember the deep breathing techniques I coached Lori with at our first child’s birth 29 years ago.
We all finished the 6.2 mile course, quickly downed the legal limit of Advil with our complimentary Power Bar, Potato chips and vitamin water and then hung out together watching others cross the finish line. We swapped stories and purely enjoyed one another and the ecstasy of finishing well. It was one of those moments. A moment you wish you had more of, a, as my French friends say, Jae ne sais quoi… that elusive quality… an unspeakable time of community, life, freedom, grace, joy… we are people who work together well and were now having fun with one another… together.
I wasn’t expecting what happened next… the organizers squeezed a ceremony between the 10 K the masses run and the 10 k a few elite athletes run. In the middle of the stadium was a platform and podium… a politician/big-shot welcomes us and introduces a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War, Major-General Patrick Brady, to a standing ovation. With the crowd on its feet the Thunder-birds fly over, we sing the National Anthem and General Brady shares reflections about the supreme sacrifice that so many have made for our freedom… and I’m in tears… it’s all fresh again… my father’s death in combat, his loss, my loss… how I wish I knew him… how very much he, my mom and I missed out on...how I look forward to being with him… his life.. a Larger Story… courage… life… my God and Father… hope, heaven… and a governing desire: I want to live, heroically, to live well.
I am frequently without words for all that’s swirling about within me… but in that moment I loved God, others… life… and want so much more… another all to small of a taste of the Eden we were designed for. - Craig