It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Okay, actually, it was 5K Fun Run/Walk.
As I ran today, alternating between running and walking, I kept exchanging lead with a man who was in the very small Age 80+ bracket. Sometimes I’d run, and get ahead of him. Sometimes I would walk, and he would overtake me. After about 20 minutes of this, it got to be a joke between us, and we’d wave each time we traded places. I took a moment to marvel at his endurance; he ran the whole way, and it was only because of the arrested shuffle that his body afforded him that I was able to maintain a proximity to him. A few times after we started acknowledging each other, I hesitated passing him, wondering if the fact that an overweight middleaged woman was momentarily besting him would upset him. The next time I caught up with him, I decided to say a few words.
“Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?”
He smiled, but didn’t slow. “Eighty-six.”
“I hope I can run as steadily as you when I’m eighty-six. I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. I am in awe. I can barely keep up with you.”
“Young lady, I’m proud of you.”
Laughing, I said, “Proud of me? What for?”
“Because you drop back and walk, but then you make yourself start running again. It doesn’t matter how many times you stop. What matters is how many times you make yourself start again.”