A Blue Eyed Runner
I saw your father today, rather a man remarkably like him. I am compelled to say, that this man of some seventy years, held his body firm with the discipline of a rigorous youth. His hair still not white or grey but somehow staved off the changing of his years, was cut short like the military. He might have been nearly six feet tall, but this was hard to gauge for he walked with a slight stoop that belied his attempt for youth. He was decked out in biking garb, black spandex shorts, and tightly fitting biking shirt with a unrecognizable logo.
He looked at me and offered a smile and a pleasant good morning with eyes that twinkled a dazzling blue. And he hurried out the door of the public restroom. I had little doubt he was bent on a bike ride of some unforgiving proportion.
I thought of your dad and the camping trip at Cathedral Pines. I was wrapping up a run and saw him cross the intersection ahead of me, pedaling in the direction of Canada. He had his own special cadence, two pedals and a pause, two pedals and a pause, a pause that only someone studying him would note. His cadence was reminiscent of high altitude climbers as they make the final ascent where oxygen is thin and life is precarious, they take two steps and a pause, two steps and a pause.
I was impressed by this man in his middle 70’s on the start of his ascent. I was near the campground and I thought I could grab my bike and try to catch him, without the pause I probably could. I knew he’d welcome my company, as he had done years before in Bowie Maryland on an impromptu run.
I hadn’t run for several days and was felling itchy for my heart to pound and my labored breath to remind me I was alive. I asked your dad about a good 4 or 5 mile loop and he knew just the place. And he was going to show me. It was an imposingly hot and humid that evening and he was accustomed to the temperature. He started out strong and we matched a conversational stride. We spoke in spurts, as runners do, a bit about this and that. Then his words became substantive. He gave me instructions to run ahead and complete the loop at my own pace. I was in my thirties, he a man in his 60’s. I should have been more attentive to our pace. I was reluctant to leave my running partner, but knowing him a runner, I knew he was sincere, for every runner’s best runs are those runs where we find our own pace.
I think of those first years that I knew your father when his mind was sharp and his body strong. I recall your stories of him from your youth, and know that this man, your father, very much ran at his own pace.