run, stop, turn around off the path backwards forwards s l o w d o w n stop.
I’m running. I’m stopping and turning and watching for my kids, who are in various places, getting behind or ahead. My youngest keeps veering off the path, or getting tired on his plasma car. This isn’t what you would call my best run ever. It’s better when my husband comes and helps to watch the kids, and walks with them when they want to go off the track and into the park. I have tried this without him before, and it was a disaster. But, it’s exercise, and I’m grateful for the beautiful (hot) morning, and the kids who agreed to come with me, to our beautiful park.
I see a woman park her jeep, and get herself ready to run. She puts her headphones on, and does that little head tilt of readiness. I’m jealous. She’s alone! Her run will just be about her run. We cross paths often, as she runs and I stop with E, my 4 year old. Occasionally we pass when I’m actually running too. We smile at each other each time. Her smile is kind, while mine most likely looks a little like a “I-can’t-believe-I’m-trying-to-exercise-still-with-these-kids-becoming-less-and-less-cooperative” smile.
E is done. He stops his plasma car, takes off his helmet and shrugs his shoulders. “I’m hot.” So I do some lunges while he does some 4-year old jumping jacks, and we go under a tree to do crunches (E does the cutest crunches you ever saw, with his legs down, basically a nap with some slight head movements.)
The runner approaches me, with her same kind smile. “Keep it up! You’re doing a great job.” She hands me a bottle of water, I thank her and she walks away.
My eyes are about to tear from this kindness and morale boost, but luckily I’m with my three children. E and H jump on top of me as I try to do heel touches. I stop for a drink of my gifted water, and H says, “I hope she didn’t poison the water.” I pretend to be poisoned, we all laugh and we are ready to go home.
Thank you, stranger, for the water and the encouragement. In my inconsistent and slow running life, I’ve so far been impressed by the kindness of other runners. Everyone cheers other runners on, nobody seems to care that I don’t look like a runner. Best of all, none of the encouragement I’ve gotten seems condescending to me, even though I should wear this shirt for all my runs: