Monday, July 08, 2013

Running in Another Man's Shoes

As a senior in high school, I was a witness to an incredible event. My uncle ran a marathon. I remember it so well. He seemed to run effortlessly. He would pick my grandparents, my aunts and my mom out of the crowd of thousands lining the streets. We followed him with amazement.

He was the first person we knew to ever run a marathon.

He went on to run two marathons after that first in Chicago.

When I got into running, he became a great resource for any question I had.

Years later, we ran the Shamrock Shuffle together.

As life happens, sometimes we move away from one thing to pursue another. I don't think many people, at least not us middle of the pack runners, throw ourselves a running retirement party. Instead, something happens one day or year that changes our path - a new job, family, a baby, or maybe less inspirational, like an injury or new found boredom with the sport. Regardless of what the reasoning may be, a lot of us have been there or will go there one day.

So back to my uncle's story.

This past week, we traveled a long, long way south on quite possibly the most boring highway in the United States to see my Grandma. Illinois is a different world south of I-80, and it's a complete culture change as you approach Kentucky. Life is slower there. Cell phones barely work. There's no internet. For a few days, we spend time talking, sitting on the deck, eating and drinking. I find it relaxing on these trips to go on a shorter run on at least one of the mornings. I can run for four miles and see three cars. A big change from Sheridan Road.

One morning, I laced up my running shoes and headed out down a road which is named only by the material it's made out of and a number. I saw one farmer, seven cows, a deer, a fisherman, and two pick up trucks during my four mile run.

When I returned to the house, instead of rushing inside to change and get ready for work, I was able to spend some time stretching on the deck overlooking the lake. It was during this time that my uncle passed by me. He asked how my run was and how far I'd gone. I showered shortly thereafter and had a second breakfast.

A short while later, I was sitting outside with a small group including my uncle. He asked what size shoe I wore. I smiled. I knew where he was going with this. "My running shoes are an 11" I replied, which sparked a quick conversation about women's to men's sizing. Then I was asked if I had a pair of socks and maybe a pair of shorts? Lucky for him, I'm the build of the average man, so sizing was working out in his favor.

Shortly thereafter, he was suited up in my gear and off on the roads. He returned some time later saying that the shoes were a bit snug, but it felt good to get out there.

Welcome back to running, Mark.

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