Mind Games

During yesterday’s run I was met coming and going by packs of school kids. I don’t know if they were participating in an early morning fitness program or if they were training for the cross country team. Adults with stop watches and whistles were  encouraging the walkers to pick up the pace.

I jogged past three walkers. It appeared two of them were trying to encourage the third, a young woman who clearly did not want to be running in 82% humidity. I felt her pain. A while later the group of three ran past me. Still later I noticed the two had left their friend behind. She was walking alone with about a half mile to go before reaching the finish. As I continued to jog I closed the distance between us. I noticed she kept casually turning around to look at me. Then I realized what was going on. She didn’t want to be passed by a 50-year-old waddler! Bless her heart. When I got closer to her she started running and created more distance between us. Once out of breath she walked some more but kept turning around to monitor my whereabouts.

I didn’t care whether or not I passed her but I decided if she was going to be preoccupied with my pace, I’d give her a little nudge. I picked up my speed and before she knew it I was just off her right shoulder. When she saw me she began running again and ran almost to the finish before walking the final yards. She was one of the last of the kids to complete the workout; her coach was waiting for her with an encouraging word.

Yesterday was a three-miler for me. I don’t know how far the kids ran or what their time goals were. They were well into their run when our paths met. But I hope I helped my young competitor be a little better than she thought she could be.

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