First of all, I was kind of lost.
When you do trail running, part of the adventure is that you’re not really sure where that last bend will eventually end up, so there is some guesswork. And when your guesswork turns out to be faulty, there are sometimes other human beings that help.
John (pictured above) was that human being last Saturday who helped me become not lost.
“Excuse me, do you know where the North Loop picks up again?” I asked to the thin, wiry gentleman stretching by a post. He wasn’t sure, but he was friendly, and I was tired, so I talked with John for a few minutes. Now, look at that picture. How old would you guess that John is?
Lean muscles and bright eyes belied the fact that John is 88 years old. I was tempted to scream GET OUT and shove him in the chest at that point, a la Elaine Benes. He didn’t look a day over 60. He went on to tell me he was a long distance runner who held most of the world records in his age group. At first, I wasn’t that impressed, because, come on: 88. I’m guessing the competition isn’t that rigorous in his age group these days. But he told me that he was also an actor and musician. So I asked him his last name. “Keston,” he replied in his beautiful British accent. John Keston then explained to me that I could google him if I wished to do so.
When I got home, I did google John Keston. He started running at age 55, because he had high blood pressure. In 1996, the year I ran my first Twin Cities Marathon in a respectable 3:49:16 (at age 25), John also ran Twin Cities, finishing in 3:00:58, at age 71 (first in his age group). In 2001, he set a world age record when he ran a 3:22:59 marathon in the Portland Marathon, when he was 76. And that was after he broke his hip in a biking accident in 1997, broke his leg in 1999, and badly injured his foot and tore some tendons when he stubbed his toe on lava rock while running ten months later. While running on lava rock. You know, like you do.
Before I resumed my trail run, I told John about my caper that involves running the Grand Canyon to rescue 50 girls caught in trafficking. His bright eyes lit up when I told him about the mile descent from the North Rim down into 100 degrees on the floor, and the mile ascent back up to the South Rim, totaling 25 miles and lots of pain.
“Huh. I should do that someday,” he said with a smile and a determined look on his 88-year-old face.
And I am convinced that he will.
Here’s the thing: I hate getting lost. Most of the time I make sure I know exactly where I’m going, and what I’m doing, in just about everything I try.
But when you try some things that take you off the paved roads and onto the wild frontier of maybe, you will get lost. And when you let yourself get lost, you will find fascinating people like John, who will inspire you to keep running until you find your way again.
Two weeks ago, I set out to raise $50,000 with little more than a blog, a twitter account, a Facebook page, and some friends. As of today, we’ve raised over $30,000, and I feel like I’ve run about as many hills. That will put 30 actual women out of trafficking and into the Keziah House, where they’ll get counseling, education, love, and a new job. And we have a dream to do that for 20 more women.
On this unpaved trail, I’ve met the most spectacular people, who are willing to go off of the paved roads and get a little lost. I can’t wait to write a few more stories about them in the final couple of weeks as I prepare for my run.
We’re way out on the unpaved trails, friends, and I am finding it exhilarating.
If you’d like to join our adventure and donate, click here.
And if you have a story of where you’ve gotten lost because you dared to venture out on the wild frontier of maybe, I’d love to hear it. Email me or comment below.
In it together, friends.