I hit the traffic light just as it was hitting red, and I was happy to get a breather. The cloud that had been making my late-morning run a bit too chilly was starting to show breaks.
An older woman, probably in her mid-70s, was crossing the road, heading toward me and smiling. I smiled, and then she asked:
"How far have you gone?"
"About 10," I said.
"Wow," she said, just as the sun peeked through. "Enjoy it while you can."
By "it," I thought she meant the change in weather, but what she said next made an impression for the rest of my long run.
I'm pretty much the only runner in my family. When my grandmother on my dad's side used to take care of my brother and I on random summer days or on a Sunday, we'd struggle to catch up with her as she walked with purpose to her next task. Was she power walking, I wonder in retrospect? To this day, I remember her as a strong woman, who in her 60s was, it seemed, in the perfect health.
My dad, who is now a very strong and healthy 68 year old, spent 10 minutes of our ride in his minivan yesterday talking about the various exercises he does to stay fit. 10 pound dumbells, 50 times over his head. Stretches that he said baseball players do (I have no idea what he means, nor do I want to know). Walking up and down the stairs, pushups, situps, crunches.
He talked about how a few friends of his from high school have died recently. And he talked about how older men sometimes look "really old." This, my dad who took us swimming, biking, who as an engineer worked at so many job sites that he was toned and strong.
In that split second as the light was about to change green, the older woman completed her thought.
"Enjoy it while you can," she said, pausing. "I used to run too."
"I will," I said, "have a great day."
And as I sped off with the green light, I pictured this older women a lot younger, doing her runs. I see her now, looking back at them with fondness, and passing on this important nugget. "Enjoy it while you can."
So I ran a bit longer, looked up at the sky, passed the churches as they emptied of Easter worshippers in their Sunday best. I ran, breathed deeply, quicked my stride, then ran a bit more, and silently dedicated a few miles to this old lady, my father and my grandmother.
I ran 23.6K, my longest run since Chicago.
Weekly mileage: 34K (21.5 miles)
Time run: 2:56
Year to date: 485.5K (302 miles)