For a couple of runs or so lately I shared paces with my long time running buddy, Cris, and on another occasion with his son, Klent Reymon.
It has been a while since I ran with someone.
I have been a lone wolf in much of my running life. I am either too slow for the speedy ones or too fast for the rest. I therefore burn the pavement and sweat on my own. On dirt roads, it's only my breathing and my footsteps that mingle with the sound of chirping birds and babbling mountain springs. I see myself as the living version of those photographs of the lonely long distance runner, lonely in the sense of being alone, though definitely not inside where the joy of doing something so loved engulfs the entire being.
There were a few times though when I and some running buddies got together for a run. Cris, his children, a number of other fast friends and me - we ran together. We ran long for marathons. We ran hills. We ran dirt roads where once we chanced upon a man harvesting coconuts and asked for some young ones for a swig of water. It was perhaps the best mid-run refreshment I have tasted. We even ran in a downpour once braving the rain until we were too wet and cold that we had to stop and crowd ourselves on a small roadside shack, the only shelter available to us on that farm road we were on.
Those runs will never be forgotten.
As Cris and I ran together a couple of weeks ago, talking about my latest race performances in Davao, he brought my attention to a younger man running parallel to us on the other side of the road.
"That guy has been tailing me since I started. Let's show him what we old ones can do."
He told me to pick up the pace. I smiled, and matched his strides. The young man on the other side of the road did the same. We picked up the pace a bit more. In less than a kilometer of running, the young man was behind us by quite a distance. It was again like before.
Running friends encourage each other and push each other to run faster and be better. They may not run together or race together always, but the memories of runs shared and enjoyed together is forever an unbroken bond between brothers-in-arms.
(photo from kimbia.net)