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August 14, 2010 / elodie kaye

Pace Setters

I ran my intervals this week with Tim and Mike who lead our informal running group.  It’s the only group I’ve belonged to where I will drive, bus, or subway to the designated location, and then do my run solo, just to hang out afterward.  I didn’t do that last night because we were at the track, but they commonly run 7:30 mpm on an easy day to my 11:30.  The rest of the gang fills in the gap between our paces, but sometimes if it’s just us three, I let them run their own workout without interruption, and I do the same.

Perhaps more than anyone else, Tim is the agent behind my lack of self-consciousness about my pace.  He’s an arrogant jackass, except when he’s trying to get in your pants, but he dispenses it evenly.  He doesn’t dismiss my ideas about running because they must be irrelevant to him, even though sometimes they are.  He’s the first to call me out whenever he judges that I’m letting myself off easy.  In his world, being slow is never a reason to expect less.

In the fall of 2008, I couldn’t run a block without tripping over my own feet.  My pity party was only interrupted in November when our entire group of eleven, descended on my house.  If I weren’t already blind with self-absorption I would have been embarrassed that they had to take me out for a walk, like a puppy that doesn’t know any better.  Because I live in the Frozen North where every run is a trail run from December to April, it became too hazardous for me to try to run outside and my progress stalled.  I had to fight my neurologist to keep my physical therapy case open.  Although I couldn’t run, I could walk without aid, and running is not an essential life skill.

The ensuing bureaucratic struggle seeded real doubt in me for the first time.  From the wheelchair, I had been safely deep in denial.  Of course, I would walk again, and I did.  The steam engine of inevitability halted there at the end of my block, the distance I could run without stumbling.  Through that whole dark winter, Tim or Mike, or both, faithfully came by once a week to walk with me.  As hardcore with me as they are about their own training, they were on my doorstep in single-digit temperatures, blizzards and freezing rain.  Although they are caring men, they’re stereotypically inarticulate in expressing it.  It took me a couple of weeks to understand their meaning, the whole season to feel the weight of their eloquence.

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