Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, December 25, 2011

The stars were still there, even as the first hint of daylight appeared.  The cloudless sky let the air get cold, and I could already feel a chill creeping under my skin. 

There’s always a moment of regret on winter mornings, when it seems silly to have left the comfort of warm covers.  But getting out in the cold is more a matter of habit than decision anymore.  Experience has taught me that a run means more than another hour of excess comfort.

The first stiff, choppy strides hurt.  If you had seen them, you would have thought it was my very first run.  I’m pretty sure I made an “ouch” sound each time my foot landed.

I was comfortable soon enough, moving easily down the road that leads away from our neighborhood.  I didn’t pass any cars; there are always less on Sunday mornings.

I treasure the solitude.  It’s a time to remove myself from everything that’s going on in my life and return to peace.  I imagine it’s similar to meditation when my thoughts disappear into the quiet rhythm.

I moved up the hill toward McDaniel College and onto the campus where I knew the students had only been sleeping for a few hours.  I started running around the grassy fields where I give my legs a break from hard pavement.  The frost on the grass made a soft crunching sound and left a trail of footprints behind me.

After a while, I ran through the heart of the campus, moving by the old buildings that could tell a million stories if only they had a voice.  I went down toward the little chapel where my wife and I were married and passed the theater where I had been the night before. 

Among those I watched on the stage was my son, Paul.  When he was younger, I never could have imaged he would be an actor.  He was shy and unsure, much like I was as a boy. 

Now, he commands a stage, luring the audience to believe in the character he plays.  He’s made me feel excitement and joy, sadness and despair, all as if a father was watching his son experience the scripted emotions.

My daughter, Katie, just began her chosen career.  To get where she is now, she’s overcome setbacks and uncertainty.  I know there were times when she wondered if it was all worthwhile, but her passion never wavered.

As I ran back toward my home, a few cars passed by; the world was waking up around me.  But I stayed with my thoughts, remembering all the lessons my children have taught me.

Running removes mindless clutter, and helps me see my life as it really is.  I don’t always have to be the teacher; my children have wisdom to bestow. 

If I didn’t take the time for reflection on quiet runs, I know I wouldn’t see it all so clearly, or have ever realized who my true heroes are.