In my continuing quest to finish a 100-mile foot race, I have been logging in some long runs. Over this past holiday weekend, I was out on the trails, ticking off the miles. Not enough, not what I had planned.
It’s funny, just a few weeks ago I would have been thrilled with 34 and 10 the next day. But it wasn’t what I had planned (which was more like 40 + 20, or 35 + 30).
As the sweatiest girl on the planet, though, I have trouble running in the summer. Do you remember those commercials from a few years ago – probably for Gatorade – with the athletes bent over in exhaustion with sweat pouring off them? Well, that’s me when I run. Except that I do that for hours and hours. It’s hard to stay hydrated when all the fluid in your body is running out of you in rivers. So, I had to make some adjustments to my plans. For my health. I rehydrated as best I could. I walked when I needed to. I took a couple long breaks to cool off.
I was running on the Long Path – a very long trail that starts at the George Washington Bridge, connects a whole lot of parks up through the Hudson Valley, and ends somewhere in the Catskills. I ran from the GW Bridge to Piermont and back. It’s a beautiful trail, mostly along the top of the Palisades, affording lovely wooded trails and stunning views.
During one of my rests, I was admiring the view over the Hudson when a large group of young boys from some camp program came along. As they came up the trail, I could hear them grumbling – they were tired, it was hot, when would they get there? The leader, who was being overwhelmed with complaints, brought the boys to a clearing where they could see the river. He asked if the boys knew what the town was across the river. It was Yonkers, he told them. No way! Yup, Yonkers. And for the boys who live in the Bronx, just there, that’s the Bronx. Really, that’s where I live. Where’s the Bronx? That big building, that’s the hospital. You know where the hospital is? Yeah, my school’s right near that hospital. Hey, is that my school? That’s my school…. Suddenly, all the boys were busy looking for something they might recognize.
I asked a couple of the boys where they were headed. We have to go all the way down there. And then back up. It’s going to be so hard! Wow, you’re going all the way down to the bottom? That is so cool! I’ve never been down there – I’m just running along the top. That is going to be so much fun – a real adventure.
And then they were smiling. And they laughed when they talked about how steep it looked. It was still going to be hard, but now it would be an adventure, something that almost no one else they knew had ever done.
For just a moment, they were seeing their world from a different perspective. Where we live can be the whole world or just a dot in something much larger. Difficult things will still be hard, but can be enjoyable or rewarding. It all depends on how you look at it.