When you think of Miami Beach, do vivid pictures of steamy salsa dancing, loud music, famous people, and fruity cocktails come to mind? Yeah, that’s what I think too. Would you ever think of a man who runs every day at 4:30pm from the 5th Street lifeguard stand? Probably not, right? I didn’t know about Raven either until Mama JC commanded “we’re going to find him” as we prepped for a work trip this past week. I thought OK, cool, a run in Miami Beach will be a good liver clearing from the night before. But I’ll admit, I was ready to take it or leave it. I wanted to lay on the beach for as long as possible – after all, it is January and we do live in freezing Pennsylvania. But Mama JC recently saw a short clip on TV about him and she knew we needed to be there to meet him. She was definitely NOT going to take it or leave it…and I’m glad she didn’t. With a laser like focus and practically a mile sprint down Ocean Avenue at 4:20pm after a work meeting this past Thursday, we met Raven.
Every day for 43 years he’s run 8 miles on the beach in Miami (with just a few exceptions like when there was a massive hurricane or when he was in the hospital). His 15-16 minute mile pace these days are “slow as heck” but they’re like a good meal with even better company. How can you not enjoy miles of turquoise waters and amazing conversation getting to know new running buddies? You can’t. The sound of the surf, the quiet pitter patter of the packed sand beneath your feet, and the fresh air is downright therapeutic.
We were only able to do 4 miles with Raven and Hitter, one of the long time runners that has come to run with Raven for years and “too much,” he said with a chuckle. We were so bummed we couldn’t do the full 8 miles, but we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for a dinner reservation (and salsa dancing lessons with our colleagues – AMAZING). We didn’t want to miss out on getting a nickname, so I guess we’ll just have to go back. The nickname is something you earn after you run 8 miles with Raven, which becomes your identity in their running pack. Nicknames are simple like Hitter’s, and go all the way to crazy like Sleaze Buster or Lobotomy (we didn’t meet them). But we were so thankful for the short hour we spent with these guys. We talked about our work with children with special needs and I shared freely about Soleful Mamas. The older gentlemen were quiet and thoughtful about what they were hearing. They didn’t say much, but I really feel that their few comments were solid acknowledgments that in every tough moment of these days we are right where we are supposed to be. As we worked the beach, Raven shared about his life. I thought about how that connected to the Tony Robbins reflection exercise we had to do for our annual meeting for work. I felt the pull of creating a few new rituals for 2018 that I think will really help redefine my year: Be simple. Be consistent. Live my purpose (still not 100% sure what that is yet). I think there are very few people left in the world that don’t compromise who they are, their “why”, or what they need to be successful. There are even fewer people who are 43 years consistent and dedicated to their purpose; who can fearlessly move forward in their truth with simplicity and freedom. Raven has that and I want it.
There are so many things that I wanted to share, so many tidbits and facts that I wanted to write in this blog – like yesterday Raven was completing his 126,000th mile. 126,000 miles – WOW!!! But I forgot almost all of them… then I realized it’s not about that. It’s about being in those moments, sand filling your shoes and joy filling your heart, and being so excited that happiness just flows out and around you. It’s about what your soles learn and I hope that’s captured in this video below.
If and when you are inspired, head on over to Raven Run and check him out! There is a book titled Running with Raven that was written about him (among other fun things). We’re ordering ours from Amazon and sending them down to him for an autograph! And we, of course, have to get ourselves a t-shirt. 🙂
For now, I’d like to leave you with the thought of going to Miami and running 8 miles on the sand with Raven. If you feel even just a little tug to go do it, you should. I promise, you will NEVER regret it!
One step at a time,