04.11.09

Running: An Infinite Community, A World of One

Posted in Monthly at 11:08 am by Pasha

By Pasha Carroll

April is the best time to be a runner. The weather is a perfect fan that breezes the sweat from a runner’s eyes. The trail that winds along Lake Michigan in Chicago is nearly bare, a stark contrast to the throngs of people who use it in the summer.

It is in these days that I am especially thankful. I look towards the sky and thank God for my heart that is pumping oxygen and blood to my fingers and my toes. I thank God for my legs that propel me forward, faster on command. I thank the heavens above for the sunshine warming my skin and the clouds that are so billowy and cottony. The turquoise blue water that stretches out before me reminds me to be so thankful for every day, for every stride, for every moment that I am blessed.

In these miles I feel in a world all my own. The music that I love pumps into my ears. The prayers that I hope for reach to the sky. I feel utterly isolated, like it is me and the beach, the sand grinding under my rubber soles, and nobody else exists.

But every so often a running neighbor comes knocking and I am reminded that we are a community with the same passion.

An elderly man, I am guessing well into his 70’s, hit his perfect stride and bolted ahead of me, taking the lead on the trail. I usually see through other runners and stay in my own world. But I was proud of this man, this other runner. To be at such an age and still have his knees intact, his hips fully functional and to still have the spirit to pass a 28-year-old woman. I thought, “Wow. That guy is the MAN!”

A half-mile later the man stopped and stretched a bit. As I approached he smiled at me, as runners often do to one another. He seemed to want to say some thing and so I slowed my pace and took one of my ear buds out so I could hear. The old man said, “You inspired me.” I winked at him and said, “No, sir. You inspired me.”

We were both telling the truth. While we were each in our own runner’s world, our community was well intact. As runners we pass each other in the streets, pounding marathons worth of pavement, sand and trails. We nod in acknowledgment of one another, grinning in our own secret language. While running is just a world of one, it really stretches into one infinite community. Members always welcome.