I felt really good this morning on my run, achieving the best times since I’ve moved here to Florida. It was still very slow but under 40 minutes at the three-mile mark with a stronger finish. Most of this I will attribute to the cooler temperatures, but I was also a little embarrassed by a woman’s comment last evening. We were all at the neighborhood ballpark watching the Braves play the Dodgers on the Jumbotron, sipping on a margarita. My wife had befriended her at the dog park, but when we first moved to town she noticed me running along the golf cart path that I travel every morning. I’m very self conscious when I’m running, worried about form and what other people think as I pass by. I’m often passed by other runners and very aware that my pace has deteriorated through the years. However, when I heard her say to me, “you run so slow, but at least you do it,” it must have stirred up some competitive juices.
I often feel awkward and out of balance with my arms flailing at my sides. It’s not the same smooth motion that I had ten years ago, although I was never an accomplished athlete. Also, I watch other runners and form does not necessarily dictate speed. There are some unusual running styles and I always hoped that I wasn’t a comical target. In fact, when I first started running I did it on a path through the woods where no one could see or judge me. These days, I too often feel like I’m moving in slow motion, about to topple over at any time. Moving faster helps with balance, but I’m not always motivated to make the additional effort to push off with each step. I tend to shuffle, even when I walk, and often fall behind the group when we’re moving from place to place. At seventy, I’m fortunate to still be able to run or walk without help, regardless of speed or style.
I hope that today was the beginning of a resurgence in my running speed, but most likely it was just a temporary uptick. There is a 5k race at the ballpark this Saturday that I had a notion to compete in, but with company in town I may have to wait for the next one. Most people see 3.1 miles as a long distance to run, but I do it every day. It’s taken a toll over the nearly 13 years that I have been running without missing a single day. In fact, today was #4,670 with an occasional mile mixed in as a “day off” when I’m restricted by travel or injury. Otherwise, it’s the same 3.1 mile route every single morning when I’m in town, passing by the same group of seniors on bicycles, golf carts, and on foot with their dogs often in tow. I’m like the tortoise in the race against the hare – slow and steady.