I have not been running regularly for some time. On Sunday the local annual half marathon that I usually try to enter happened, this time without me. It broke my heart, I had so wanted to do the Half Marathon a week after my 60th birthday! It doesn't help that nearly everyone I meet opens the conversation by saying, "Were you running on Sunday Dave?"Then I have to confess my lack of training and laziness. So the fact of being absent from the run and a friend's helpful goading has meant a renewal of my efforts to get fitter. Saturday I walked up the mountain. Sunday I ran about 6k with my friend who actually tricked me into running further than I wanted to. Monday I went for an early evening bike ride for about an hour and a half. Tonight a 5.5k run. Sunday's run was hard going! I puffed and panted my way around. Tonight's run was a little better, I ran more freely with less panting.
But I want to tell you about two strangers I passed. As I was feeling tired, hungry and about half a kilometre from the end I came up behind two young men, in basketball attire walking to the University gym. They looked like Kenyan runners, but I really know nothing about them and it was getting dark. Their walking was not that much slower than my running. They heard me coming. (Perhaps it was the wheezing?) They turned saw me and parted so that I had space to run through. I guess they saw my age and as I passed through they both said stuff like, "Wow! your doing great! Good on you!" and clapped their hands. It was a genuine bit of admiration for an old guy trying to get fit. It put spring in my step and a little burst of "speed" as I finished the straight to the car.
I have often found that some young students make fun of an old guy running. (I do look weird!) It does not worry me, I just vow under my breath, to come back and haunt them when they are my age. I did, however, appreciate these guys. It was a nice little gift of friendship and support on life's journey.