It was about 95 degrees, but with the humidity, it felt well over 100.
Everything was saturated in a thick, heavy, sticky ick.
I was about two miles into a 5k race that was beginning to feel more like a half marathon.
Sweat had beaded up on my skin, soaking through my clothes and weighing them down. But it was really my thoughts that had slowed my run down to a jog quickly approaching a walk.
I had a two-year-old who wasn’t sleeping through the night again. I was newly divorced, and my ex-husband had just begun dating our former neighbor.
Our neighbor from what was now our “old neighborhood,” the one where I pictured my son growing up, waiting at the end of our driveway for the school bus and walking back up the driveway at dusk just in time for dinner after playing with the kids in the neighborhood.
But that vision of how I pictured my life and his had slowed from a run, to a jog, and now it felt as if I was trudging through quicksand to take the next step. Thick, heavy, and since I didn’t really know what the next chapter of my life held, I worried if I made one misstep, I might sink.
My mind was weighing down my body and I knew it. I was panting for breath, even though I had run a full marathon in the past, and I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.
I never usually thought about anything when I ran, especially during races, but this one felt different. Maybe it was all the recent change or maybe it was because this race landed on my 32nd birthday. One that I would be spending completely by myself.
“If you start to jog now, you can still get a decent time,” a fit woman who looked to be well in her 60s suddenly appeared on my left.
I was startled at first; I hadn’t really been paying attention to anything around me. I thought for a beat then asked, with a hint of optimism creeping into my voice, “Really?”
“Yeah! C’mon!,” she motioned with her hand as she jogged ahead a little then turned back around and shouted, “It’s never too late!”
I found my feet moving quicker to catch up to her. Before I knew it, I was matching her stride.
We jogged together in silence across the finish line.
“Thank you,” I said giving her a sweaty hug, my clothes clung to hers in the embrace.
I walked over to a tree and sat down in the shade. “Maybe it’s not too late…” I thought to myself. Not too late to paint a new picture for my life, to start over again and build it differently this time around.
I hadn’t thought about that day in a long time. It was nearly seven years ago now, but as my new husband and I signed our purchase and sale agreement on his birthday for our first home together, nestled in a neighborhood much like the one my former life almost began in, I reminded myself it’s never too late to start over.
We sometimes get so caught up in imaginary timelines and visions of how we picture our life to be that when it doesn’t work out that way, we let our fears run wild and weigh us down…making it feel impossible to move forward.
But if we just put one foot in front of the other until we cross the finish line, we might be surprised at how many goals we achieve, new chapters we begin, or races we finish—even the ones we never pictured ourselves entering.
Because it never is too late to start over again.