Thursday, August 7, 2008

Goooooood morning!

I’ve been a runner for a long time. I’m about to turn 33 (in two weeks) and when I think back on my how long I’ve been a runner, I would say that I started running when I began junior high school, or 7th grade. I would have been 12 years old at the time. I’ve never actually sat down and thought it all out, but I’ve been a runner for 21 years – wow!

It’s funny because when I think back on all the miles I’ve run and all the cities I’ve lived in, the one thing that stands out to me is that usually there is someone that I see everyday on my running route that I see as one of my “running friends”. This person may or may not be a runner, but they are someone that I see every day and I consider them a part of my running.

For example, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to forget this man who I would call a “character” on the Townlake Trail in Austin, Texas. (Austin has a 4, 5, 7 and 10 mile loop that goes around a part of the Colorado River in the middle of downtown. This is the place to run in Austin.) I don’t know how this guy was (or is) but he seemed like he was about 80 years old. He was really, really white, had white hair, and always wore some sort of old-school running outfit, ya know, knee-high socks with thick stripes and a terrycloth headband.

There were two things about this guy that made him seriously interesting. One was that when the weather was cold, he wouldn’t wear a long sleeve shirt, he would wear a pair of his knee-high socks with stripes on his hands (and up to his elbows) as “gloves”. Sweet! The other thing is that he would say good morning to everyone, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e on the trail. His “good morning”’s were kind of long and drawn out. I remember laughing as I would run by him because he sounded like this…

Gooooood morning, gooooood morning, good morning, gooooooooooooood morning, good morning, gooood morning, good morning, goooooooooood morning…………

It was like this constant salutation that never ceased. I have to say, I loved this guy. He was a fixture on the trail. Always there. Always.

Now that I’m living and running in Buenos Aires, I have a new running friend to be appreciative of. His name is Ruben, and yet again, he looks like his about 80 years old. Almost every afternoon he sits in his lawn chair in a certain location at the Lago del Golf.

It took Ruben a while to acknowledge me, something like 4 or 5 months, but now, boy does he bring a ray of light to my running. I often run around the Lago de Golf, which is a 2k loop. If I’m running 15k I may see him 3, 4 or even 5 times in one night.

He is so sweet to me. When I first see him, he always opens up his arms really wide to show me that he wants a kiss. I, of course, always stop, give him a kiss on the cheek and chat with him for a little bit. If I haven’t seen him in a while he greets me with the ever popular “¡Tanto tiempo!” then asks how my life is going.

He also is my cheerleader. When he first started noticing me, he would just kind of do this Argentine gesture for “Wow, you are running really fast!”, and then as I got to know him a little more, he started calling out my split times for each loop and cracking jokes like “not good enough, faster!” He has always been a bright spot in my running.

I think what I’m really trying to say is that I’m thankful for all of the “characters on the trail” that have brought something special to my running. These people have been there for me day after day, to say hello, to ask how I’m doing, to cheer me on. They are there for me when I’m having a down day in my running, there to lift me up a bit in order to keep going. And for this, I just wanted to say thank you.

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