Grace Afoot

Friends, I'd like to introduce you to a new member of the planet's running community. Meet Kelly Grace:

K.Grace took her first running steps this morning. Nobody had to talk her into this. She's been quietly psyching up for it for weeks, clearing all the medical and mental checkboxes. Running looked like fun; she decided it was for her; and she's doing it. Bingo.

She's light years, light years I tell you, ahead of where I was when I started running. After a warm-up walk and a quick tutorial on form basics, we ran 30- to 45-second intervals on the bike path with a minute or two of walking between. And oh my god, K.Grace is a runner. Easy midfoot strike, natural but not exaggerated arm pump, great posture, and impressive quick learning on diaphragm breathing. Wow.

I wondered what was going through her mind when we approached people on the trail, especially the table of volunteers prepped for the Indian Creek Half Marathon runners. (Who even knew this was a race? The trail wasn't blocked. Fast traffic, too. I might put this on my calendar next year.)

"At first I thought I would be anxious," she said, "with them seeing me running. But it changed so fast, and I'm kind of mad if I'm walking and not running when they see me! Hey, I'm out here! I want to be running when people see me!" Light years, I tell you.

We moved down the trail and talked about comfort zones and how everybody has them, even people who seem utterly confident in their athleticism. In fact, those people can be some of the most encouraging to someone who is publicly moving out of her comfort zone. Not as a form of charity, but because they viscerally connect with the effort. Because they often are also, at this very minute, challenging some comfort zone that isn't immediately obvious.

Sometime I will ask K.Grace herself to explain the "floating head" phenomenon. For now I will say that it meant worlds to both of us when she said, "I feel my legs. I mean, I can feel them in a different way." LIGHT YEARS.

Which means no one can say how far she's going to travel. From today's five minutes and thirty seconds (you hear that? 5:30 of running time! Way to work it, K.Grace) to wherever you want to go. And yes, today's was as brilliantly enjoyable a run as any I've had.

See you on the trail, runner, and in the meantime, stretch after you walk and drink a lot of water.


K. Grace said...

Wow. Wow wow wow. I was there, I took the picture, and I will never forget how it felt to RUN, but wow. I can't believe this is a story about me. I ran. I'm a runner. I run. I feel miraculous today, Ann. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

WOWFlipper MOM (WOW is MOM turned upside down) says go K. Grace GO! I want to run too...when I come to Kansas for your MSW graduation. Let's do it!

Anonymous said...

Great story, wonderful achievement!

Anonymous said...

K. Grace... I'm looking for a KC Marathon relay partner. You in?! So proud of you in so many ways! K.K.

Linda said...

All I can say is: you rock! You both rock! Way to go girls! :-)

Jr Sanford said...

Good Job Kelly. I knew you had it in you. I hope you can inpsire the rest of STC group to get fit and healthy.