On Saturday my family and I ran in our local Turkey Trot. Yes, folks, even Don, who hasn't willingly run, well, ever, ran the two-mile course. One of his Facebook friends quipped, "Was the liquor store closing soon and the car wouldn't start?" Our 12-year-old Patrick and I ran the 10K. I ran mine in 1:01.13, and Patrick ran his in 45 minutes. Patrick's ass-whooping of me is only going to get worse, as his legs and his cardiovascular system grow. That's OK. I'm happy for him. As long as I'm still running races at age 79, like someone I met on the course, I figure I'm doing well.
As I was running toward the three-mile marker, I saw a thin elderly man running along. As I passed him, I asked how long he'd been running.
"Hope I'm still running in thirty-five years."
For the next mile and a half, we took turns passing each other. I was doing what I call my inchworm intervals, running as hard as I can for a minute, then pacing myself for another two minutes. Damned if he didn't pass me for good right before the five-mile marker. I saw him at the finish line, where we shook hands. I congratulated him for his strong finish.
"You helped me out there," he said.
I couldn't imagine how. By encouraging him? By providing a target for him? I was too high on endorphins to care one way or t'other. "Thank you" seemed the best thing to say.
Anyone who knows me well knows I'm a big-time eavesdropper, and that usually leads to some butt-inskey comment. I usually can't resist the temptation to comment on what I've just so audaciously overheard. Here's the best one of the day: "Did you hear about that guy with one leg who ran a marathon in like, two hours?"
"Hell," I offered, "I can't run that on two legs. Not even on three."