Running on Christmas Eve with My 15-Year-Old Sister Rachel (Heaven Bless Her)

My 15-Year-Old Sister Running Ahead of Me, Christmas Eve 2008 (Heaven Bless Her)


2008 was The Year of 100 Runs.  I made the goal last January to run 100 times before this January (technically, by midnight on December 31, 2008), my very first proactive, must-actually-do-something-for-a-whole-year goal.  It sounded like unmitigated awfulness—but also good and consistent and hard—so I decided I’d do it.  Me, a non-runner, a non-exerciser, and The Year of 100 Runs.

The Rules: (1) Each run had to be at least twenty minutes; (2) I could only count two runs in one day if each of those runs was at least thirty minutes.

I remember most of my runs.  Some I only remember because I kept a little journal, writing down a blurb about each run, identifying where I ran, when, what I did to keep myself occupied while my feet were moving along the pavement.  But some I remember because they were, in and of themselves, great.  A sampling:

  • Around Salt Lake City, in a snowstorm, with my brother Joseph.  We ran (literally) into my cousins who were stopped at a stoplight on their way to the university.  “Hi, cousins!” they yelled.  “Hi, cousins!” we yelled and waved back, and ran on.
  • Around Palo Alto with Michelle, a roommate, on a lonely Friday night.  After this run we drove to Blockbuster, where the cashier asked for my driver’s license.  When I pulled it embarrassedly out of its safe place (tucked into my sports bra), the cashier held it in his hands and said quietly, “It’s warm.”
  • Along cornfields in Ohio, when I was driving Reija cross-country to start her new life at med school.  I ran through the heart of America, while Reija slept restlessly in a shady motel.
  • Around my new neighborhood in northern Virginia, with my roommate Stephanie, when she didn’t want to run but she did want to be prepped for an upcoming job interview.  So I ran and grilled her with mock interview questions, and she ran and tried to answer (with poise) between gasps for air.  I timed our run so that just after I said, “Let’s take this interview up a notch,” we tore up a hill.  I thought it was so funny.
  • Around the National Mall in DC with Jeanette, when we ran in the cold night past the national Christmas tree, to the empty World War II Monument, behind the White House, to the street corner where my little sisters waited in the wake of the NY-DC Chinatown bus.
  • With my father to the post office.
  • With my mother to the pharmacy.
  • With almost my whole family, when they came to California for my law school graduation, and we all agreed to run to our favorite ice cream store.  We ran in pairs (matched by speed and ability), so we could get there about the same time, streaming into the air conditioned shop, all sweaty and pink and family-like.

And then, on December 31, 2008, my 100th run: a wimpy, closely timed jog around my neighborhood, calculated to get the run checked off but get me home in time to make the 9:08 bus.  (The 9:08 bus waits for no man.)  I wanted to feel triumphant and fast and hardy, but I didn’t.  I jogged my 20, stretched my calves, and called it a year.  And I thought, “What ends with a whimper still ends.”

RIP The Year of 100 Runs.  You were good to me.  And I totally kicked your trash.