I have written about my running efforts every now and then. At the end of the month, I’ll be running my first 10K in several years. That’s not actually true. In my solo runs, I’ve run a few six, seven and eight mile runs over the last few months. No. Since my groin tear of several years ago, I have struggled far too much with running to sign up for an organized run. The 10K at the end of the month is my first organized run. Some people call them races. But, at my pace, race would be a misnomer. It’s just a run, with a whole bunch of other people, to raise money for some charity.
So, then I did a really stupid things. Some co-workers having heard about the 10K I was running, signed up for it. And then signed up for a 5K that takes place about 90 minutes after the 10K should be complete. There’s a local running club called Moose Drool that gets together on a regular basis for a short run that ends at a local brewery for the all important post-run beer. The same day I’m running the 10K at 8:30, they’re hosting a Beer Week 5K at 11:00. And, yes, being the fool that I am, I have signed up for both.
And I don’t know why!!! It’ll be interesting. These days I just don’t feel very strong when I run. And typically, after a run, particularly one that is six miles, or 10K, in length, things might get a little tight. A little creaky. The idea of running a 5K only a little bit after a 10K — it’s something I’ve never done before, and it may just be a bad idea. But I’m doing it anyway.
The thing is, as much as I don’t enjoy running — and I don’t, I never have a truly comfortable run — there is still something about it that is just so fundamentally right. There are these people out there who can run any distance at any time, regardless of training it seems, and they are fine. They are good. They just don’t feel it. Me? That never happens. Every run involves something. Tight calves. Creaky knees. Hip pain. Tired legs. Something.
But when I’m running, something happens. My mood lifts. I open my mind and my heart to so much more. There’s an older woman who lives a few houses down from us. When I run in the morning, I frequently pass their house and she is standing on the sidewalk. Frequently in a robe or pajamas. It is clear she is suffering from something like dementia or Alzheimer’s. But, speaking two different languages, we’ve started a conversation. Yesterday, she introduced herself to me. Elsa. She is from the Philippines. I want to say so much more to her, but it’s difficult to do so.
There are many Sikhs in our neighborhood and the older ones can frequently be found walking the streets of the neighborhood. One of them has found a place for me. I’ve written about him before, but whenever I pass him on my runs, I stop and we stumble through a few broken words. There’s a connection.
That needs so much more.
And this is what I wish I could bottle. The feeling I have when I’m running. Where every person I pass is worthy of a “hello,” a “how are you?” a “good morning.” I felt this weekend like I’m in danger of becoming one of those old men who sits on a corner and waves and shouts “hello” at every car and passerby. But what’s wrong with that? In this world where we are becoming more and more disconnected from each other while we connect more and more — maybe we should step back and just say “hello.”
Maybe the lyrics aren’t quite right for this post, but there’s something there anyway. Stop. Say “hello.”