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How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories–Part 4

How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories—Part 4

Welcome back to the final installment of the  Inspirational Running series. In this post, I explore the healing power of hitting the pavement from two very different perspectives. In one case a woman tells how running brings back memories of a beloved father.  On the other hand, running becomes a saving grace for a daughter after her mother’s death because that daughter  had an abusive father. These opposite but compelling experiences inspired me to write a short story–with kind permission of a friend who told me about her connection to a beloved father–called “The Girl Who Missed The Rain”.

My Story

I lost my father when I was only thirteen, 45 years ago, but  I still have fond memories of him. I especially feel the connection when I am running. As my feet hit the pavement, I think of sunny butterfly days and dad laughing as he saw mango juice slip through my tiny finger tips as I eagerly devoured the juicy fruit  he had given me. So I can definitely  relate to  the sentiments expressed  in the article, “Running brings back memories of my dad.”—Heather H., St. Petersburg, Florida [1]

Heather’s Story

Heather’s father passed away in 2014 from cancer. In describing how running helped her deal with her father’s loss, Heather states:

“ The running then turned from helping me cope with his illness to helping me mourn his death. I don’t run as much as I’d like to anymore, but to this day running still brings back fond memories of my dad and that time I had with him.” [2]

If you have kept up with my posts, you’ll also recall that I  wrote a post about  war tech now repurposed to find fluid in lungs. I dedicated the post to my friend, Lucy, a fellow runner  who lost her father  to heart failure. Though she likes running in the sun, Lucy  is a woman who often says she misses the rain because it reminds her of her father. Sometimes just for the hell of it she’ll run in the rain when she has the urge to feel close  to her father.

I was moved by the poetry and beauty in which Lucy described her experiences with her father. She said:

“When I was a child, I walked in the forest with my dad. Oh mom would get so mad, thinking the whole thing was foolish. But it wasn’t. It was beautiful. The rain washed the dull grass shiny green and the brilliance of the green grass seemed to make the forest, well, a sort of heaven of  flowers. Life was perfect and I looked at the sky and thanked it for the rain. Rain that danced for the soil.”

The Dark Side of Fatherhood

Just as a father’s love can provide  fond memories, a father’s abuse can have devastating consequences that reverberates  years after the abuse has happened. This is the subject of “Running was my saving grace after my mother’s death.”—Amy De Seyn, 29, Denver, Colorado [3]

Amy’s Story

In speaking about her mother’s death—someone she was close to—Amy states:

“Her death brought up a lot of difficult and painful feelings for me and I wasn’t sure how to handle them at first. But then I remembered how I used to use running as a way to escape my abusive father. I knew running could save me again. I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement.”[4]

After reading the stories of these two amazing women, I gave Lucy a call and told her that I was inspired to put these experiences in a short story. She was all for it.  So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

The Girl Who Missed The Rain

Old Fear

As Joe Lance got out of this jeep and stepped onto the parking lot, he could smell the dripping asphalt scorched by the sun. Behind the parking lot, the trees ravaged by the heat looked to Joe like tall ugly skeletons. “Where’s the damn rain?” he asked out loud. He was tall, well built with an oval face. His thick, black, almost straight hair and brown skin hinted at his mixed extraction. He wore short-sleeve tan summer shirt and matching pants, and looked in his early twenties.

Suddenly a well-groomed dog sprang in front of him, and for what seemed an eternity, Joe could not move. The owner, a neatly dressed middle-aged black man, quickly called the dog.

“I’m sorry about that, but you were never in danger.  He’s a little bit rambunctious but he doesn’t bite.”

“When I was a child a large dog attacked me. It knocked me off my bike and really went at me. Just brought back old fear I guess,” said Joe.

“I understand, and once again you have my apology.” The owner held the dog close to him and away from Joe.

“Don’t worry about it. No harm done,” Joe said  and walked away from the stranger. Lucky I didn’t piss in my pants, Joe cursed himself.

The Sad Girl

Tips on overcoming Sadness
Sad Girl

He walked through a gap between the trees and reached a pebble path that led to the library. Ten  minutes after he got in the library, Joe noticed a girl sitting across the table. She looked 19 and  Middle Eastern, with long ebony hair and a perfectly proportioned face. She wore blue jeans with a dark long-sleeve shirt which she kept buttoned. He smiled.  She was the same girl he had seen taking laps around the track field a couple of weeks ago. She was fast, and he was sure she could beat anyone on the track team including the guys. Yet she was a loner and never participated in team competition. A lot of townies just thought she was some hot chick who was full of herself. Joe, however, thought they had pegged her wrong. He sensed, maybe because of his own recognizable fear, that  some deep hurt was going on with this beautiful runner. He was so deep in his thoughts that he had lost track of how long he had been looking at her.

“I don’t appreciate you looking at me like I’m a taxi ready to give you a ride,” she said.

“Didn’t mean to offend you.”

Great going, Joe. Now she thinks I’m just another jerk trying to get into her pants.

“You did.”

The girl picked up her pocketbook and walked away when Joe reached for her.

“What’s your problem?” she asked.

“Just want a chance to clear up the misunderstanding ,” Joe said.

Hey, you are the same guy I saw help that old man with a limp tie his shoes at the store not so long ago. Okay, maybe I wan’t kick you in the balls.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Joe Lance. Yours?”

“Kate Anderson.”

“Let me buy you lunch at the diner.”

Shit, I hope that  didn’t come across as creepy.

You don’t have to.”

“ I want to. Actually, You would be doing me a favor. You would be stopping me from using my money on beer. Last thing I need to have is a beer belly at my age,” said Joe.

Kate said nothing and didn’t even smile when she and Joe left the library.

Daughter of A sculptor

He watched  her walk towards a giant wooden sculpture and just stand there. “What’s wrong, Kate?” he asked her.

My father was a sculptor.”

“Was?”

“He’s dead about three years now.” She lit a cigarette, and took a couple of puffs, said nothing and took more puffs, than turned to lance and dropped the cigarette on the ground. He put the cigarette out.

“A real southern gentleman, aren’t you?”

“My accent that obvious?” he asked.

“Just a bit.”

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Louisiana.”

“Are you Cajun?”

“A bit.” He smiled. “I have seen you run at the track, and you have excellent form. You’re a natural.”

“ I sense a but coming up, “ she said.

“ I was just thinking that you might be a lot faster, maybe even good enough to run one of those marathons  if you gave up smoking.”

“Me, run a marathon ?”

“Well, it wouldn’t have to be a full marathon. It could be one of those quarter marathon. You can do it.”

She shook her head. “You’re sweet. Crazy, but sweet.”

Memories and Rain

tips on seeing beauty of nature
rain drops on leaves

Joe sat on the ground. He reached for Kate’s hand and coaxed her down, and they faced each other. “What was your father like?” he asked Kate.

“My father  was good, like the rain.”

Enjoying the peace of nature
Rain drops on grass

“What do you mean?”

“When I was a child, I walked in the forest with my father. The rain washed the dull grass shiny green and the brilliance of the green grass seemed to make the forest a heaven of flowers. life was perfect and I looked at the sky and thanked it for the rain. The rain that danced for the soil. And three months after my father  died, my mother  married. She might as well have danced on his grave—she and the bastard.”

“Your stepfather?”

“Don’t ever use the word father  when referring to him,” she said with such force that he could feel a trace of spit on his face. he wiped the spit and got up. She straightened herself up and never said she was sorry.

“No big deal. let’s have lunch.” Joe chose to take her silence for an apology. They drove to the diner.

Unseen Monster

The jeep came to a halt in front of the diner. At the nearby bus stop, a bus going to the Village of Cooperville pulled over. Joe and Kate entered the diner and headed to the corner table, from where he observed the driver pouring coolant into the radiator. He noticed that Kate was also looking at the bus, but it wasn’t long before lunch came. It began with a pitcher of ice cold lemonade, followed by steak and fries  with a side order of fruit salad. Joe enjoyed the passion with which Kate ate. She didn’t take delicate bites the way lots of girls he knew did. She took good chunks in her mouth and savored every bite.

“ It’s been a long time since I had a sit-down meal,” Kate said. “My mother is a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. She’s not around much so most of the time I just pick something up. I definitely  won’t cook for that vermin.”

Joe reached for Kate’s hand to comfort her, and the sleeves of her shirt moved, exposing two vertical scars. She ran out of the diner and, before he could stop her, got on the bus which quickly took off. Joe ran to his jeep and followed.

Facing Monsters

Tips on facing our fears
A German Shepard bares its teeth.

A few miles down the highway, Joe caught up with the bus. It had broken down and steam was coming from it. “Listen mister, you gotta drive to Cooperville and get help. It’s only a mile away, “ said the driver.

“No problem. Where’s the girl who boarded at the diner?”

“That one ain’t right in the head. She went running into the forest,” the driver said, and pointed Joe to the woods across the highway. At that moment, a wild dog came out of the same woods. In its mouth was a bird torn to shreds and blood still dripping down its jaws. The dog ran back into the woods.

Joe felt the sweat run down his face and before long his shirt was sticking to his body from the dampness. He felt a burning sensation down his throat and realized he had vomited and some of it had back up his mouth. He spat everything out. His heart was beating fast, and his chest ached. He wanted to flee, but instead grabbed a tire jack and headed to the woods.

When he got deep into the forest, Joe finally saw Kate. She was on her knees and crying. She turned when she saw Joe.

“The sun burned everything. The flowers are dead. I miss the rain.”

“Gotta go , Kate. Crazy dog on the loose.”

“He raped me, that snake.”

Joe put down the jack and embraced Kate. At that moment he could feel teeth biting into his leg. The dog dragged him like he was a doll. Kate screamed, but was too scared to help him. The pain was intense, as the dog tried to bite straight through the bone. With all his might Joe threw  himself near the jack and brought it crashing into the dog’s skull, killing it instantly.

Kate rushed to Joe and helped him up.

“I’m sorry, Joe. It’s my fault.”

“No Kate. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s over. All of it. You have to go to the police.

“Will you go with me?” she asked.

“Yes, I will. You can trust me, Kate.”

“I Know. I truly do.”

For the first  time Joe saw Kate Smile and they both knew that soon it would rain again.

After The Rain

Joe kept his promise and accompanied Kate to the police station  few days after the event in the woods. It also turned  out that Kate’s mother  had no idea of the monstrous nature of the man she had left her daughter  with. She begged Kate for forgiveness, and Kate found it in her heart to forgive her mother. With Joe’s help, Kate quit smoking and trained to run in her first quarter  marathon. Joe loved to watch  her run. She had perfect form, and this time he knew she wasn’t running away from something  bad. She was running to the day when everything would still be great long after the rain was gone.

As for Joe, his fear was gone. He had confronted it in the woods and had triumphed. All he wanted to do now was to be with Kate. She was going to be hard to keep up with. I guess I better tie up my laces and hit the pavement, he thought  as he saw her  run around  the track. I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Tips on running with a friend
Running with a friend

I hope you enjoyed the series. For those who want to read the series from the beginning here are the links: 

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-1

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-2

https://healthybacksupport.com/how-to-be-inspir…g-stories-part-3

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1. https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/these-women-prove-running-can-help-you-get-through-tough-times

2. Ibid

3Ibid

4Ibid

4 thoughts on “How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories–Part 4

  1. This is an unexpected payoff to the wonderful series. I really enjoyed reading “The girl who missed the rain.” I think you managed to tie the two opposite experiences of the women runners in a compelling narrative that was engaging and thought provoking. Do you plan on doing something similar in the future?

    1. Hi Rose,

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and I’m glad that you enjoyed the series on how to be inspired by great running stories. I think this was a unique opportunity to reinforce the theme of my topic with a short story. I feel strongly that fiction and non-fiction writers can often use each other’s tools to make their message more appealing. So, yes, I might use similar a technique of combining fiction and non fiction in relating my message in the future.

  2. Wow! This story is exceptional, I’m really moved and inspired by the way running has helped many people get back on there feet.

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Running has indeed helped many people deal with devastating emotional challenges like the the loss of a loved. As I said in the post, I lost my father when I was only thirteen, 45 years ago, but I still have fond memories of him. I especially feel the connection when I am running. As my feet hit the pavement, I think of sunny butterfly days and dad laughing as he saw mango juice slip through my tiny finger tips as I eagerly devoured the juicy fruit he had given me. So I can definitely relate to the sentiments expressed in the article, “Running brings back memories of my dad.”—Heather H., St. Petersburg, Florida

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