Yesterday morning I was finishing up my run and I ran into a celebrity of the running world! Well after you hear all about him, you will think so too! This tall man, who looked like he could outrun me any day lol, ran up to me and said, “I kept trying to get your attention, but you run too fast and I can’t keep up with you.” We both laughed. He was so witty. He introduced himself as Jim (Jim Ottinger) and asked if I knew who he was. I remember hearing or seeing his name somewhere, but couldn’t quite recall at that moment where. He asked me my name, then got into his story of how he started running at the age of 54 (mid 1980′s). At the time, he weighed around 270 lbs and was diagnosed with heart disease. Per doctors orders he needed to change his lifestyle or he wouldn’t be around long. He decided to make changes not only for himself, but also for his family. He set a goal — and a marathon it was! (That’s 26.2 miles for those who didn’t know). It’s been history ever since.
He said, “Out of all these years of running, I’ve never had an injury….you wanna know why?” I said, ” Why?” he said (with a big smile on his face), “Because, I got Jesus!” — I said “AMEN”! We talked a little about my church (Church of the Highlands) his church, (Mountain Top Church), Jesus, how I started running, my passions, and some of my fears, concerns, etc. Me trying to pick his brain a little, I shared with him how sometimes I get down on myself because I don’t run very “fast”. With a puzzled look he said, “Fast? What’s fast?…You don’t have to run fast, you run easy. When you run, take it EASY.” At first I thought he was just trying to make me feel good, but he stressed “Easy” and “You don’t have to run fast” several times. At that moment, I knew someone was listening. I stopped comparing myself long ago, but every now and then that “fear” (or whatever you want to call it) will creep back in. I know I’m not the only one on this journey that has felt like they had to go faster or be stronger. But yesterday — I realized that I didn’t have to be. Not taking away from anyone who has shared encouraging words along the journey, but yesterday I needed to hear it.
Back to Jim…
You wouldn’t believe it if I told you he is 80 years young, would you? I sure didn’t! He ran the original marathon in Athens, Greece (involving TWO mountains) <<< did this in five hours AND in 96 degree heat (yikes!), ran across the Great Wall of China, ran the 100th Boston Marathon, and ran on six continents. Over 100+ marathons later, 53,000+ miles of pavement — he’s still going strong!
Meeting Jim yesterday was totally unexpected. It was a true destiny moment — a God moment. Before leaving, he gave me a magazine with an article for inspiration. He said to me, “I’m so proud of you, keep running!” This totally made my day. I’m so thankful to have been at that place, at that time. It felt great to hear words of wisdom from someone who has been doing this thing for 25 years+ that many people respect and esteem highly.
I was the girl that finished with the last half of mile run finishers in P.E. class in grade school. I wasn’t last, but it was close enough. Back then, it was a big deal! I was a cheerleader, clogger, dancer, flute player for goodness sakes and I did them all well, but running…so not my thing. As an adult, I could barely run 30 seconds without having to stop and walk (btw there’s nothing wrong with doing intervals either, especially if you are trying to build up). I even completed my FIRST half-marathon (13.1 miles) this past February (running with short brisk walk intervals). However, for the first time last week, I was able to run almost THREE complete miles nonstop (no walking). And guess what? Today, I’m running a 5K without walking. I can’t wait to keep building up to see how far I can go! Instead of trying to hurt myself reaching a distance by a certain time, I focused on how far I could go and endure by just running freely — Easy. I started off with a goal of 15 minutes, then 25 minutes. I would’ve kept going had Jim not stopped me lol — but, I’m so glad he did. I will never forget him or that moment. I now realize that everything comes in time. I’m not competing against anyone. This is MY race, my race for life!
Jim was so excited to take this picture. He had on his shades, but he wanted to make sure you saw his eyes!
(No really, that’s what he said! *smile*)
So he took them off! Gotta love it!