Once again, I've plundered my "From the Editor" pieces from my running club's newsletter, with this piece from 2009. Enjoy.
How do you know when something is over? I don't mean something like an event or a movie or a song; I mean something more abstract, like an era, a movement, a feeling? A season?
Don't tell me you haven't pondered this before. Everybody , at some point in time, has wondered "When will this be over?!" For us runners, we often find comfort in the concrete routines of our sport: the familiar local races year after year, the same runners crossing paths through the park or along the trail, the constant cycle of training/tapering/racing/resting for the marathoners in our ranks, and the smiling faces in the crowd, wishing us luck. Those things we can rely on, can't we? Take them one-by-one and mull over each awhile.
Local races: they seem to organize themselves, don't they? And yet anyone who has helped plan, organize, and direct a race knows this is most certainly not the case. Do we mourn the dedication of the race staff and volunteers when we search for a registration form, only to find a notice that the race is no longer being held?
What about the people we see along our regular routes? Or the same people we see on the treadmills next to us at the local YMCA? Do we notice when they don't appear around the playground at mile three, or do we only catch their absence once the run is complete? When do we realize and accept that they may have *gulp* stopped running?
I don't think I need to expound on the craziness that is the marathoner's life, but that constant motion is part of the collective memory we have in reference to certain friends, right? I mean, we all have a friend or acquaintance who qualifies for and then runs the Boston Marathon each year. What if...they stopped?
And those faces in the crowd! If you're lucky, you'll be running long enough to see certain shifts in the position of the crowd. The speedy middle-aged guy in front of you three years ago is now more comfortable pacing his buddy, and may even drop out of the race once he's confident in his charge's performance. Eventually he'll make his way towards the middle and then the back of the pack. Before you know it, he'll be relegated to collecting registration forms and fees and handing out race t-shirts.
Spring is a transitional season for runners: we move from bundled up freaks wearing face masks and shed our layers of gear to reveal the (hopefully) lithe runner's body underneath. Those bodies hidden in the dormancy of winter are just aching to go, to move, to be seen.
We are obligated to ponder the transitions around us, we are forced into the uncomfortableness of change. At what point does a runner become a non-runner? When does a passion become a chore? When does the relationship get so comfortable that it is taken for granted? When does the season really change? Who can pin-point that? Not I, said the cat. And yet, I'm not sure I'd want to know, lest I apply my runner's sensibilities to resurrecting something that just may be better off left to fade away.
Don't forget to give thanks for those daily markers in your life. Quick now, before they fade away.