Shoes tied and water bottles in hand we headed out to try one of the local bush tracks. Together we walked from the car to the path. Together we set off. And together we hit the first hill. My muscles were already burning as we scrambled to the top and plunged down the other side. At the bottom we hit another steep hill. Up and down. Up and down. And up and down again. I puffed and panted, sweat rolling down my face as I worked hard not to fall behind. Somehow I kept up almost all the way to the end of the track.
At the end of the track it was time for triumphant photos, inspection of wounds where various family members had fallen over on the loose rocks, and a quick rest to catch our breaths. But then, we had to run all the way back. The track had led us deep into the bush, and our water bottles and picnic were 2.5km away, back at the car. I looked at the hills. I'd never make it all that way. 2.5km back, all up and down those hills again.
We split into two groups as we headed back. There was the slow but steady group, led by me, the tired, out of practice runner. And then there was the fast group, rapidly disappearing into the green of the bush way ahead of us. I looked round at my little group. 2.5km. We could do that together. I'd make sure of it. We set off after the quicker group, our tired feet carrying us steadily up and down the steep hills, heading ever closer towards the car, our drinks, and lunch.
"You can do it."
"Just a little bit further."
"You can make it to the top of the next rise."
"Careful, it's a bit slippery here. I'll help you."
My little team and I pushed each other up the hills, encouraging each other. I was tired, and my feet and legs hurt. But this was actually really fun. I had my team, and we were doing well. I looked around at my little group and had to grin. Even us really tired people were working hard and still going. No one said that they couldn't possibly run another step. And there was the end of the bush track and the concrete path back to the car. Why, we were almost there already.
My team and I looked at each other. We grinned and nodded, then picked up the pace, sprinting past little old ladies, dogs, and children on bikes. Feet pounding, arms pumping, we flew towards the car, pulling up, puffing and panting. We collapsed on the grass, red faced, but triumphant. It might have been a long run, it might have been hard. I might have been a little out of practice. But we'd made it the whole way. I'd made it the whole way. And it was picnic time.
Looking around the picnic table not long after, I was very thankful. I had my family. I was fairly fit. And I'd had a whole day of fun. It might have been a tough run for me. But it was worth it to spend time with my family like this. Yes, I was very thankful indeed.