Since I began running I have encountered a few strange run ins with, “the others.” The others are those who acknowledge runners in unique ways. These individuals motivate, intrigue and baffle me. Take last night for example; we were out on our Wednesday night group run when a little boy came running up a hill beside us. He stopped for a moment as he watched 5 of us approach quickly. As we passed by him, he yelled, “How are you not tired?!” We all burst into laughter and responded with, “We are, but we just keep going!” The boy was no longer in our view. We were nearing the end of our run when we encountered the young boy. Before his words we were growing tired and more quite with each step. His simple question, “How are you not tired,” rejuvenated our spirits. I thought about the exchange on my jog home. Is fatigue within the brain or muscles? Do muscles physically give way (due to lactic acid build up) or does the brain signal to us enough is enough? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I have begun research on the topic. I will form a conclusion of my own, until then I have a lot to think about. A simple question from a boy playing in the park triggered an array of questions for me personally.
A few weeks ago as I ran down Eastern Parkway I was ready to quit my run and walk the rest of the way home. As I began doubting myself I noticed a guy walking down the same sidewalk as me. As I moved to the right, he moved to the left, and then he raised his left hand. There was no expression on his face. I wasn’t sure what he was signaling to me. As I approached I realized he wanted to give me a high-five. I raised my left hand as I was passing to engage in the friendly jester. He continued to walk as I continued to run in the opposite direction. I giggled to myself; what a neat exchange. No words, no head nod, no looks, just a simple high-five from the expressionless man. I was running on clouds for the remainder of my training session. By saying nothing and providing a jester he empowered me to continue on stronger and faster. The high-five was a statement; “Get it girl! I understand! You got this! Don’t give up!”
I love running the parks because there are always follow runners to provide motivation. I feel like being a runner is like owning a Jeep. The phrase, “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand,” comes to mind. The parks are nice when it is cold outside because only the truly dedicated come out to play. It can be lonely for most of the run until another runner comes into sight heading the opposite direction. The exchange is effortless, a head nod or smile. Once the exchange is made you realize you are not alone; which is a tremendous feeling on long cold runs.
My favorite exchange came on a very cold and snowy day in January. I was covered head to toe in my winter gear ready to run. As I was taking off a minivan stopped and a woman’s head peeked out. “Oh my god, thank you, you inspire me!” I have shared this story with you all before but I feel it is important to share it again. I did nothing nor did I say anything to inspire this woman. I was out for a routine run, nothing special to me. It was just another day in the life of Camille. My action of running inspired a stranger who in returned quickly reminded me why I partake in the sport. Running inspires, motivates and changes everything. I hope our small exchanged caused her to go home and wipe the dust of her running shoes. Who knows she may be running this very minute.
There are always the hilarious exchange from the others during runs (meaning those individuals who hit on you while you are pouring sweat and ready to die from exhaustion). I have been hit on more in my ugly running gear with no make-up on than I have been dressed up and out with my girlfriends. The, “WooWhoos! Heeeyyyy! Ooohhh Yeah!” and whistles echoing from truck windows gets old. If you are one of these individuals please refrain. There is no motivation in this form of exchange from the passerby to the runner; only annoyance and distraction.
I love the others on race day. From their posters, to their smiles and words of encouragement, they make race day special and unique. I have tons of fun reading the posters along the way. “You are all Kenyans in my heart!” “While you are running, I’m hitting on your girlfriend!” “FYI: You are not in last place.” They provide distraction, emotion, and motivation. They make race day worthwhile. Without the others I would never run. They fill me with pride and gratitude. I am thankful daily to be able to leave my house and hit the payment. I have my health, support system, and the others who I have never met but have lasting exchanges with. Thank you to all the others, as long as you keep supporting I will keep running.