I have had a lot of struggling runs lately, related to everything from the weather to leg pain to hangovers to no sleep to moving to St. Patricks Days (yes we’ve had at least 4 so far, with 1 more to go) and on and on and on. Tonight started out like one of those runs. It was colder than I had hoped and the wind was picking up with every step, and of course it switched directions every time I made a turn.
But then this funny thing happened. I passed this guy I’ve seen out almost every time I’ve gone out for a run. I must have passed him a hundred times in the past, given the obligatory nod but just moved on.
Tonight I was struggling so I was looking for someone else who was struggling as much, if not more, than I was. And there he was. Slowly chugging along at an excruciatingly slow jog. I smiled and continued down my warm-up path. I made it to the end of the boardwalk and turned around, absolutely dreading that little voice in my ear to pick up the pace for the next 5 minutes. And I’m miserable. Abso-friggin’-lutely miserable. As in I contemplated taking an alternate path home and cheating out of the rest of my run.
And then I turned the corner. And there he was chugging back along. Still going. In his Mets hat, Mets jacket, Mets shorts (yes apparently somebody did buy them) and his old Walkman that I’m sure was a hand-me-down from a grandkid with the ’86 World Series playing.
And the biggest smile on his face. He waved over to me and started cheering me on. Little Miss Doom and Gloom, who half a block earlier was ready to quit. And I started laughing.
And I spent the rest of my run thinking: Someday I want to be just like that guy (in Cubs or Bears gear of course). Mid-70s, a little softer around my middle than I am now, moving slower than I ever imagined was possible, but spending every step just happy to be there. Out in the fresh air, steps away from the ocean and alive.
And the only way I’m going to make it there is if I keep chugging along. Although hopefully at a better pace.