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  • There are "Runners" and those that run. There are those that have plaques and trophies with their names engraved housed in glass cabinets lining athletic institutions all over the world. They aspire to break records.Then there are those that enjoy a morning run before a cup of coffee.

    I fall into the latter category, plus or minus a few pain inhibitors.

    I run for what I call "the Zen of it". That is, I am not running against the clock, but to a state of matching heart, breath, and feet striking the pavement to the point where the world dissolves away. I do not tally "roadkill" or in laymans' terms, people I pass in a road race. I do not measure my heart rate, record stats, or even own a Garmin. I simply run because running feels good and do so for as long as possible as frequently as possible. Often, I enter sporting events such as triathlons, marathons, 1/2 marathons, and mud runs. I just love looking out over a crowd of a couple thousand folks and get giddy with delight at the idea of all of us gathering together and moving forward, despite obstacles, to a finish line. I run to complete not to compete.

    Or this is what I have been telling myself until here recently.

    I was out on a morning run, just enjoying my standard 3 mile loop, when a group of bouncy co-eds from the local university passed me. Now, runners by in large are a friendly group. When passing, most will throw up a hand or lip-sync a "Hi". But not these young ladies.

    I took at as a personal insult that they didn't acknowledge my existence with a "hello" or a "hi"! I'm not sure why I was so offended, come to think of it. Looking back, I don't think it was envy or insecurity that set in. Why in the world would I want to exchange my hard earned, stretch-marked flesh garnered through four pregnancies for their taunt tan-lined thighs? Better yet, why would I exchange the wisdom only time can bring for a sorority t-shirt commemorating a spring mixer?

    You see, timing is everything. And timing, like fine wine and a pair of good socks, cannot be understood or appreciated in your twenties. It just can't be. You don't have enough of it under your belt to comprehend the finesse involved in a well-placed word or in this case, a surprise attack from behind.

    I knew a rather steep hill was coming up ahead, around the bend, so I hung back, close enough to hear their conversation and watch their pony tails swish back and forth, back and forth. This was, after all my neck of the woods. So I waited until the grade increased on the hill and then steadily, casually, I, in all my 39 year-old glory, passed that trio of Tri-Delts. It can be said that on that day, on that hill, they could not blow this house down.

    I'm not sure what got into me. I have to say, I enjoyed hearing their conversation stop and a panting breath take over. I enjoyed giving them a run for their money. But more than anything I enjoyed knowing that, like the song says, "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."
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