Running is not always about losing calories. Sometimes it is about making friends.
The plan was to put in a 11 mile run in the morning to bring up this week’s total to 25 as I continue to recover from the 22 mile run last Saturday. I was aware that the left leg was still stiff and had planned to stop often enough to stretch and loosen up the calf and the hamstring. Sure enough, right around the time I was getting ready to hear the beep from my Garmin signaling first mile being over, I felt the left leg stiffening up.
Fortunately, there was a bench around. So, I put my leg up as high as I could and kept stretching till I could not take it any more. Then I relaxed and just as I was going to straighten up, I heard an unfamiliar voice call out “Hello Rajib”. I looked up and saw two ladies approaching me. I had passed them on the trail a few minutes back but I was not sure who they were. I, of course, came out with a full throated “Hello! Hello! How are you?” to the lady (she was the Indian of the two) who was talking to me. Meanwhile, in my mind, I was going “Oh! Dang! One more time I have no idea what her name is. I am going to be in a pickle soon!”
She recognized my confusion and introduced herself “I am Sreerupa and this is my friend Allison”. You would think that would have straightened out the whole situation. And it would have, provided I could recollect where I had met Sreerupa before. At the risk of completely upsetting her, I confessed “I am getting old. You have to remind me where we have met before. I really apologize”. “Oh! We have never met before”, she said to me and then turned to her friend and said “He is the guy whose blog we read everyday”.
At this point, confusion was reigning supreme in my mind. We have not met each other – but she picked me out without any mistake in a trail. She reads my blogs. Am I in trouble? Quickly I tried to recollect all the idiotic blogs I have written. The list was too long to zero in on.
We did finally sort out the whole thing. She is the wife of Sanjib – somebody who I had met long time back in the work context and also has run with me once. If my memory (for once) serves me right, her husband and my wife went to the same engineering college. I did have a great time with both the ladies and I certainly hope to run into them in the trail again!
That was just the beginning. Around the third mile marker, ran into a bicyclist Chandresh (relax! that was not literal) with whom I had worked in my previous job. Got to make another friend – Roy from England – who was biking with Chandresh.
Sure enough, Lia was there on the trail. I stopped for a minute to let her know that I am planning to visit her mom (who is in her nineties and I have heard great stories about her) and take her out for lunch or dinner during my next visit to Oregon. I also made friends with Kristin (spelling?) who was running with Lia.
Just as Lia was taking leave, another Sunday runner from our group Malobika whizzed past us. I caught up with her and asked her if I could join her. We ran a mile and a half together. And ran into yet another friend – Thomas Trotter – as we ran.
Finally I ran out of friends and just finished up the rest of the miles by myself. It was an average of 9:45 min/mile with peaks at 7:30 min/mile. But then again, who is counting the calories or pace? It is all about creating “intersection points”…
As I had written almost two years back… “in runs, as in life, we start from different points and end at different points. The line between those points – or the speed at which we traverse the line – does not define us. What defines us are the intersection points with others’ lines. For, it is in those intersection points that life offers us the opportunities to acknowledge each other’s journey, celebrate each other’s presence and make a difference to each other’s arc of the lines. And that journey is what it is all about.
That is why we live. That is why we run.”