WHAT Was I Thinking?
Saturday, August 19, 2023 by Sandi Banks

August 19, 2023 – update

It seemed like such a good idea 47 years ago, on my 30th  birthday. Now on the eve of my 77th  birthday, dare I wonder: What was I thinking?

On August 20, 1976, the day I turned 30, I awoke with a  brilliant idea. Being fit, energetic, and committed to a daily  running routine at the time, I began what would become my first annual celebratory Birthday Run. 

Three miles. One-tenth mile for each year.  

"Well that was fun!" I panted as the pedometer reached 3 miles. "Next year I'll add another tenth-mile! How hard could it be?"

So, the morning of my 31st birthday, I laced up my trusty Nikes and breezed through the 3.1-miles happily, up and down the hills of Ruston, Louisiana. 

Each August 20th thereafter, no matter where I was, I continued the tradition, adding a tenth mile.

Those next three decades whizzed by. 

Gradually, as my age increased, my pace decreased. Alas, the Birthday Run in my 30's, became a Birthday Jog in my 40s, and eventually, in my 50s, a Birthday Walk.  

A few were … um … memorable:

  1. For my 41st birthday, I decided to kick it up a notch and do my 4.1 miles up a steep mountain road behind our home in Vicenza. Perfect. On the last stretch, a huge truck met me, spewing a trail of thick pungent exhaust fumes. I gasped, sputtered, and choked, all the way back down, certain that birthday would be my last.
  1. Last year, my 76th birthday, involved a positive Covid test, a flood that destroyed our wood floors, and other stories for another time. The happy surprise: accidentally clocking an extra 2 miles while engaging in a fun phone conversation with an old friend. (Try it!)
  1. But my 49th birthday jog in Vienna wins the prize for scariest. A loved one mapped out 4.9 miles the night before with pen and paper. "Just go up here to the Little Danube, down here, around there, turn here and arrive back at the hotel." Simple. I velcroed the visual to my brain.

"I can do this," I mused. "I'll be back in time for our day of sightseeing."  Tiptoeing out the hotel room at dawn, I began my trek. After 2 miles, I saw a sign: Big Danube. 

         "Hey, I'll just take a teensy detour, pop over and take a peek."

So, a few jigs-and-jags, over-the-bridges-and-through-the-woods later, nothing looked familiar. I seemed to                be a wee bit off-course. Okay, so I was totally, utterly, hopelessly lost. 

          Houston, we have a problem. 

 Foolishly, I had taken off empty-handed: no map, no hotel name, no contact information, no money, food or                 water. And cell phones? Yet a thing of the future. Panic set in.

About that time, a stranger approached me for directions, pointing and babbling in some language. Me? Directions? I laughed. Then I cried. By now it was mid-morning and I knew everyone would be up and worried about me. They were. Search teams had gone out, two by two.

As the hours passed, so did my hope of ever seeing my loved ones again. I continued to wander, and                             pray. "Lord, You know where I am. You know where they are. Please bring us together."

Eventually, He did. Miraculous. Everyone hugged. I apologized profusely. It turned out to be a memorable                   birthday and by God’s grace, I lived to see my 50th the following year. 

The good news is, I’ve carefully banked the extra 4.5 miles I walked that day to withdraw on my 90th, when I              venture out on my 9-mile birthday crawl. Or roll. Or scoot. 

          Or maybe they'll come in handy tomorrow on my 7.7 mile Birthday Stroll, we'll see. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I am profoundly aware of what a blessing it is to be able to do such a thing. My heart aches for those dear ones who struggle to breathe . . . or move . . . or even dream of a chance for a birthday stroll. 

Every breath we take, every move we make, every sunrise we see, every birthday we celebrate, are gifts from God. With every candle we blow out, may we be ever more mindful, and grateful, for these gifts, and to pray for those whose journeys have taken them through deeper valleys and harder places.

Lord, may we who enjoy Your gifts of good health, mobility, and abundant provisions, to any degree, say thank You! Let us never take them for granted--or presume upon our tomorrows. We are so grateful. We lift up those today who would love to take a birthday stroll tomorrow, but for whatever reason can't. Give them an extra measure of Your grace today. Your healing. Your bountiful blessings. Your help, and Your hope. Let them feel Your pleasure, and Your presence, in all they do. Your name be praised, Amen.


Share This Blog:


Pam Mitchael From League City, TX At 8/20/2023 9:02:46 AM

Always such an inspiration! I ALMOST feel like going for a run. ?? Love you, Sandi.

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Thank you, Pam! I’m almost standing out in today’s 108 degree Texas cheering you on! ?? Love you too, always great to see you. ??

Pam Craig From Midlothian At 8/20/2023 12:20:00 AM

Love this idea and had forgotten that you did it!! What an inspiration you are!!

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Pam, thank you, my friend! Hope you’re doing well. We both may need to head for bed now, for a sweet Proverbs 3:24 sleep ??. Blessings!

Tammy Douglas From Lafayette IN At 8/20/2022 8:31:18 AM

You are truly an inspiration and a blessing. The perfect story of the power of perseverance. Keep pressing on.

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Thank you, Tammy, for your kind words. Loved meeting you this summer! <3

Evelyn From Florida At 8/20/2022 4:07:18 AM

Sandi Happy birthday! I love that you do this each year and especially that you take us along each year. You go girl!!!

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Thanks so much, Evelyn, for your encouragement. I hope to "go" for more years. You can come along in person sometime! <3

Teresa A Moyer From Oregon At 8/20/2022 3:27:52 AM

This made me smile. When we met in person back in Oct of 2021 it was just before my scheduled knee replacement. Unable to climb stairs or walk more than 50 yards. Now that I have my mobility back, I need to create my own tradition.

Reply by: Sandi Banks

You do, Teresa! Let me know. :) You are a true testimony to the power of prayer, God's healing hand, and perseverance. So great to see you up and around, enjoying new things! <3

Phyllis Holcombe From Ovilla At 8/21/2020 11:32:12 PM

Hmmm. Do you think it's too late to begin a new tradition? I just love traditions! And you just inspired me. Surely my back will be totally healed by December. Getzendaner then White Rhino if I can still stand up. Hmmm. Love you, Phyllis

Reply by: Sandi Banks

What a wonderful tradition in the making, Phyllis. It's a plan! Praying for total healing for your back. Love you, my friend, take care! <3

Shari Minke From New Hudson, Michigan At 8/20/2020 2:19:54 PM

Oh Sandi! What a gift to us and a gift to God to share your birthday travels. May you have many more! Please keep sharing your adventures. You are a blessing.

Reply by: Sandi Banks

What a sweet note, Shari. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement so much. I hope you are having a great week. <3 Many blessings, Sandi

Wanda Morgan From Denison Tx At 8/20/2019 11:21:32 AM

Way to go Sandi, stay fit and forever young. I am right behind you with the 73 thing. Praise God we can still do way more physically than many our age. Love you, take care and kill that 7.3

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Thank you so much, Wanda -- we are hanging on by God's grace, aren't we. Praise! Hope you're doing well, my friend. I miss you. Take care! <3

Jeanne From Camano At 8/20/2019 11:03:13 AM

Enjoys your piece about Vienna. I have been there and in my minds eye can see where you may have gone. What a delightful goal of adding the .10 to each year while also demonstrating how little any of us can understand our future abilities. God bless your day! Thanks for sharing!

Reply by: Sandi Banks

Thank you for your kind words, Jeanne! Maybe you and I can go back to Vienna someday, with our GPS this time, and enjoy the beauty of it all. God did bless my day, thanks for writing. <3

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