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Live and In Person

 


Live and In Person

 I ran up with an uneaten peanut butter cookie in my hand—timing my ingestion, chewing as I ran. It’d been a decade or so since I literally ate while running. So far I hadn’t wanted to puke, neither had I choked on cookies—only on water. Which I quickly learned to let it dribble like drool onto my face, then onto my windbreaker. As I sidled up to another competitor.

I inquired, “Hey. You mind if I run with you?”

“How you doing?”

We began to run together in the late stages of the event. He about ten years my junior.

“Ahhh dual adductor cramping—it abates when I begin to walk a bit. Then doesn’t seem to reoccur till about a mile of running again.”

“Drinking water?” He asked wearing a camelback the whole time of the event.

“Yeah. I had like forty ounces before this morning before the gun went off.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Yeah. I’m not so sure why this insane cramping is happening. You?”

“Yeah. It’s happening to others today too.”

“I thought so. I saw it on their faces. I have had dead leg feeling since the first mile. I was going to bail after the first hour and drive 300 miles back home—but I decided to ride this storm out and just get time in on my feet. I haven’t raced in fourteen years—today may just be the exact date or I just passed that anniversary.”

“Wait. You drove up here from where?”

“Northern Jersey. Stayed up north from here last night.”

“That’s far. I won’t drive more than 100 miles before a race.”

“Oh. So, you like give it time.”

“Yeah. 300 miles. You’re not driving back home right after this?”

“Oh yeah. I have one child still home and three pets and we’re babysitting someone else’s pet this week too.”

“I have one at Northeastern and one in high school.”

“Sounds like me. Mine are eighteen and twenty. One in college and one in high school too.”

“Do they run?”

“One did with me till she was fifteen—well then you know suddenly running with your mom when no one else is doing that with their mom— is like uncool.”

“Both my kids run. What do they do?”

“Well, both stay in pretty good shape. My little one its shot put, tennis—she enjoys walking and lifting weights. Oldest she will go to the gym regularly. But the walking on campus and for her job she gets in about six to ten miles of walking per day.”

“My daughter is a good runner. She’s at Northeastern and got a scholarship there.”

“Wow! That’s great!”

“Yeah. Now my son—when it came to running. He was not the caliber runner she was. But I wanted him to enjoy it. He ran his own pace and stuck with it. I was surprised.”

“That’s nice that he has. Because I hate seeing kids get discouraged thinking they have to perform a certain way.”

“You know our school system has made it mandatory for graduation that every student every year must do one season of sports.”

“Wow. Seriously?”

“Yep. I think it’s a good thing. Its not asking too much.”

“I think you’re right. I think that is a better idea. I sometimes think having all the kids do all four years of science and or math in high school can be a bit much for most kids.”

“I think so too.”

“You know it’s a balance. And most kids they need to explore other interests in art and other stuff too. That’s where you begin to help expand understanding within a child.”
“You know what I love about having my kids be runners?”

“Watching them?”

“Yeah. My son all of sudden improved in his running. It’s something I wanted for him—but never expected.”

“Funny you should say that. I get so excited when I see someone improve. It makes me happy—you know?”

“Yeah. I do get happy for others.”

“I’ve coached a few teenagers. I get so happy when they improve. I just do it randomly—kinda’. I’ve got nearly five decades of long-distance running in me. I truly enjoy it.”

“Nothing like it.”

“Yep. Well, I got to walk a bit. Cramping again both legs—see you on the turn around.”

“Okay. I’ll have to take a pitstop soon too.”

“Okay. Stay safe. And thanks for the chat.”

“Keep strong.”

We parted as I slowed to a walk pulling a water bottle out of my back pocket—as he continued to trot ahead.---Jody-Lynn Reicher

 

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