Running is usually a solitary sport for me. Yes, sometimes I run with other people and we talk about whatever comes to mind, but most often it’s just me and my thoughts. One foot in front of the other, time and time again, sometimes for hours without stopping. My i-Pod provides music for my ears and I usually listen to it, although on long runs I sometimes get into a “zone,” a state of mind where my mind is thinking about something pleasant while my legs churn away the miles. I can look at my Garmin GPS watch and realize I covered two miles and can’t remember the songs I heard or any real specific details about the route I just covered. I usually call this zone my “Happy Place.”
Today I ran in a race called “The Frozen Feat.” The temperature was barely above zero, and the strong wind was creating wind chills way below zero. I knew, for a variety of reasons, that I wasn’t going to have a record breaking run during this frozen race, but I didn’t care, because today I wasn’t running for myself, I was running for Sherry Arnold. Sherry was a mother, a wife, a math teacher, and a friend of many people in her town of Sidney Montana. She was also a runner like me.
On January 7th, Sherry went out for a run in the early hours of the morning, and never returned. It was later determined that she had been abducted by two men only a mile from her home and brutally murdered. The only item recovered was one of Sherry’s “Brooks” running shoes, which was found along the road where she had been taken.
Today I laced up my own pair of “Brooks” running shoes, and pinned the “Sherry Bib” on my outer layer. I left my i-pod at home, as I wanted to run in silence for this particular race. During the cold 6 mile run, my thoughts drifted to this woman that I had never met. Running is a solitary sport, and being alone had cost Sherry Arnold her life. All runners are vulnerable to vehicles when we are out on the street, but it’s nothing compared to being a woman alone on a deserted road. We runners become a close knit group, and my heart ached for all the people, both Sherry’s family, and her friends, that are left hurting and angry because of her tragic death.
All of these wretched thoughts prevented me from entering my “zone” today but that was what I wanted. This run was about something larger than me and I didn’t want to think about anything other than Sherry’s courage, strength and grace. I hope and pray that Sherry’s soul is running at this very moment, in her own eternal “Happy Place.”