This summer during marathon training, mid-week was my medium length run; I was headed out the door to get in seven miles before work. I had been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall the night before this run, and read of these runners “kicking up their feet” … I started thinking about my stride and realized it is primarily a shuffle. Not much lift in the back, slide forward to the next foot and keep movin’ along. So, I decided to work on my “kick” just to see what it felt like, and boy… it makes a difference! I found that I have more spring, when the leg goes back, there’s more momentum for it to swing forward, and I think that overall it increased my pace, or at least increased my turn-over.
I was about half a mile into my seven mile run in the city, and while passing a restaurant, decided to check my form in the window, and … Bam! I found myself sliding down the sidewalk, six feet from where my right toe hit one of the infamous pieces of sidewalk lifted by a root of a beautiful Portland tree. I was practicing my Superman, and once again learned that it is true, I do not have hidden wings, and I cannot fly. Unfortunately, I found myself in a similar situation splayed out on the sidewalk only a few short months ago, and the memory of that injury had not totally faded. On that occasion, I was laid up with a swollen knee-cap for a week, icing every night, and was not able to return to my regular running schedule for over a month.
I cautiously tested out my limbs, slowly stood up, and recalled that unlike my previous encounter with pavement, there was no loud “crack!” when I landed this time, as I had magically fallen on a downhill slope which somehow let me catch most of my weight with my arms, and slide on my side a little rather than hitting my knee directly. The only noise I heard was the “ssssssshhhhhhh” of my shoes catching on the cement as they slid down the sidewalk. I took that as a good sign. I was determined to finish the run I had just begun, so after a couple careful steps, I gingerly tested out a jog, found my legs to be fine (except the quarter-sized raspberry on my left knee), so I continued on toward my daily hill climb.
As I was nearing the turn off to head up the hill, I found myself pacing with a woman who was running in the middle of the street. I gauged her to be in her fifties or early sixties, and she was keeping an outstanding clip. I decided to let her know I appreciated her pace and hollered “You’ve got a great pace going!” She looked over, and immediately grinned – “Well thank you! That’s quite a compliment for someone of my age!” We got to talking, and it turns out she is from Texas, used to flat terrain, has been running every day for many years, and has recently started working out with a trainer to build muscle to keep her bones strong. She was peppy, friendly, and just the person I needed to run into that morning after another fall to keep my spirits bright. And what an inspiration!
We chatted, introduced ourselves, and went our separate ways mid-hill, I was turning around, and she was continuing on up to the top. Pleasant, happy, and genuinely joyful was this woman from Texas. Any morning I want to meet the day with some cheer, I know where to run to meet up with this lovely lady.
I may have discovered I was not Superman, but that Wednesday morning, I met an Angel.
The people in the world that bring us joy make life that much more wonderful, and help us appreciate being on this planet. Shine your joy, and help others find their light.
With joy in running, and in all things…