Crossing the Cooper

There is never a problem too big or too small….that you can’t run from.”

I read that pithy piece of philosophy on a t-shirt bouncing in front of me as I ran the 6.2 miles across the Cooper River Bridge this weekend. I hate to admit it, but sometimes bumper stickers and t-shirts are all we need to sum up what’s going on in our life.

This weekend, broken toe or not….I needed to run!

A long time ago, the only thing that would make me run was a promise of cake at the end. In reality…that’s how this whole mess started. A few years ago, Jordan signed me up (without my permission) for the Girl Scout Thin Mint Sprint. I was furious….until… I learned that each participant would receive a free box of thin mints at the end of the race. Not kidding, my whole focus in training was on getting that out of season box of cookies (Tuck is not alone in his affection). I know it’s counter intuitive to run a race to eat, but my sense of logic has never matched the masses. To make a short story long, a cookie race introduced me to the world of running. I learned to like running even without a delightful treat dangling on the gates of the finish line.  Sugar and endorphins are good bedfellows.

When Chris was deployed, my first reaction was to find a race to run. I am sure psychoanalysts would have a field day with this one, but save the dissertation, it’s already on a t-shirt.

The 33rd annual Cooper River Bridge Run was my emancipation.

My best friend from Winston-Salem, Kathy Littlejohn, threw her support behind my method of madness and agreed to run the race and spend the weekend with me in Charleston. Little did we know in December what the three months in-between would bring…. If you read this blog regularly, you know.

At the starting gate we were grouped according to our running time. When I registered for the race, I was a runner. Nothing had changed. I was still a runner, but now I was one with a broken heart and toe. It was a moment of choice, a defining moment. I looked over at Kathy, my running buddy, and she completely understood what it meant; we were not going to walk this stinkin’ race…we were running! 

We looked like the “wonder twins” (did I mention…Kathy showed up without planning in the same cute running outfit as me…she has an excellent fashion sense:) and maybe we bumped fists and transformed into something better. I don’t know. All I know is that from the starting shot we were in this race to run. Surrounded by a menagerie of people, I have never felt so free…anything was possible.

Crossing the Cooper River was symbolic for me. When I was in college, the old bridge was our only option. I remember being scared to death to drive across that rickety bridge. I would close my eyes for the entire span. Unfortunately for my passengers, I did this while I was driving…which added another layer of danger to the trip. Now, many years later I stood on the other side. There was a new and improved bridge, but my fear was still present. I’ve spent the first three months of this year covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers only when I was forced to look. It has been gut wrenching. At the end of everything….if anyone says that this year has just flown by…I will slug him square in the jaw. Overcoming fear and doubt is a daily chore. The wolf is always at the door and each day I have to step over….or in the case of the race….completely run over him.

The theme of the Cooper River Bridge Run has always been “Get Over it!” 

On this day, I got over it!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Crossing the Cooper

  1. Brenda

    Great job Janie!!! It’s one step at a time… and you are doing it!

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