Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Running with Rahima

View from Brown House this morning
I'm off for a run this morning on the trails above Woolman Hill, and Rahima goes with me. One of the things she loved most in this life was running. She ran 15 marathons and at one time held classes for people interested in starting long-distance running. In Iowa City, she trained with a group of women she called the Goo Girls, after the nutritional gel they consumed during races.

Her running career began when she was sixteen years old in Scituate (pronounced SIT-chew-it), Massachusetts, the seaside hamlet south of Boston where she lived with her family, the oldest of five children. She ran with her father, an engineer who had a passion for all manner of physical activities. He admitted to her that he didn't really love to run; he just knew it was good for him. Rahima, or Carol as she was known by her family, felt differently—she had a deep and abiding passion for running.

One of Rahima's unique talents was her sense of timing and orientation to place which I think was honed over years of running nearly every day. She could leave the house for a 7- or 10-mile run and tell me the minute she would return, and she would be exactly right.

When she broke her hip on February 5, 2011, it ended her running career. It was a terrible loss for her, and hard on us. In the previous months, we had started running together and found ourselves well-matched for short distances, although I had neither the experience nor the endurance. For a time after her accident I would go out on solo runs but it was just too upsetting for Rahima to know that I was running and she couldn't. So I reverted back to hikes in the woods which became part of her recuperation.

On these hikes, she had a funny little run loop the she would do, jog out a few paces then swing around with a big smile, arms wide as if flying, and return for an embrace. I miss that childlike joy in life and her delight in our sharing it together.

Now with Rahima's passing, I am feeling a push to get out and run. I don't go out every day or nearly as long as she did, but some days like this one I feel the urge to use my body in that way, to see the world at running speed, to invigorate my lungs and stretch my legs. And when I do, I feel in a sense I am running for Rahima or with Rahima. Her spirit goes with me, and it is good.


What are your memories of Rahima running or running with Rahima?

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