Skip to main content

A Perfect Stranger

Friday night I went on a 12-mile training run along Bayshore Boulevard. I had made it through the toughest part--the halfway turnaround--and I was about three-quarters done with the run when some instinctive calling told me to stop and turn around, observe the sky. It was about 8:20 p.m., and an earlier storm had left behind a sky of cloud that veiled the intensity of the summer sun. And even though the sun does not set over this particular bay, the Hillsborough Bay (the shore of which faces east), the muted sun did a couple of magical things that I had to stop and take pictures of.

The first thing it did was cast a golden gleam onto the buildings of downtown Tampa. From the distance at which I stood, the buildings were not so recognizable that they were familiar; instead, the golden speckles made the downtown area look to me like a gilded city, another place entirely.


Still smiling from this encounter, I continued on my run. I was about 8.5 miles in when I decided on a whim to look up at the sky behind me. This is what I saw:


I won't say I was as emotionally overtaken as the notorious double-rainbow guy at Yosemite, but I was touched enough to get the attention of the guy running behind me and to show him the rainbow that was cutting through the clouds in the pink-tinted sky. I said, somewhat in awe, "There's a rainbow." He looked up and said, "Oh, yeah." So maybe he wasn't as moved as I was. But he did thank me before carrying on with his run. The sun went down so quickly after that, that had I not stopped him in that moment, he might not have seen the glory in the sky. 

I eventually continued back on my run, now a bit exalted from nature's impromptu slideshow. I looked up ahead and saw the same guy I had stopped, now stopped again on the sidewalk. But he wasn't doing anything--just standing there. Once I caught up to him, he turned to me and asked if he could run with me. I was a little taken aback, but the first thought I had was, maybe he did care about the rainbow! No stranger has ever asked to run with me before, and it was almost dark out, but after a slight hesitation, I told him, "Sure. If you can run as slow as I can." He asked how far I was running, and I told him just a couple more miles. We talked about running, mostly--our backgrounds in it, our goals, etc. He turned out to be a nice, harmless guy. He also alluded to his wife somewhat early on, which made me feel a bit safer. After almost two miles, I told him I was about to go off of Bayshore and onto an upcoming street, hoping that would signal our departure (friendly or not, I didn't quite want him following me home). Then he thanked me for running with him. He said he wouldn't have gone as far if it weren't for me, and that made me feel really good. I thanked him, too, for his company made those last couple miles of a long run much easier to bear. Almost as an afterthought, we exchanged names. He told me he runs a few times a week on Bayshore, and I said I'd keep an eye out for him. 

Though I started my run solo, by the end of the run I had felt the warm companionship of both nature and a fellow runner.

Comments

Runner said…
Nice post! I love those moments when a long run is brightened by nature!

People Liked to Read...

Surgery Chronicles: Start Here

I alluded in my last post to upcoming foot surgeries I'd soon be posting about. I'm now 19 days away from the first one, and my thoughts pretty constantly revolve around how my life will change after that when I wake up from my "twilight" sleep after the first operation. In my best frame of mind, the scenario is like this: I'll spend a few weeks out of commission, getting some forced rest, spend a few weeks in a boot, limited exercise, and my right foot will be recovered. Then I repeat on the left foot and by fall I'm back on my feet again. That's the Twitter version. But the version that most often plays out in my head is more like a volume of books, with the details of every day painstakingly planned, agonized over, and wondered about. How will I make food? Bathe? Focus on work? Get the mail, take out the trash, do laundry? Will I be in a lot of pain? Will I go crazy during my long days isolated at home? Will people forget about me? Will I get the resul…

2017 and Beyond

If this sounds like a very late new year resolutions post, that's because it is. I never quite finished expounding on my goals for the year, but I wrote 10 things down, so I figure it's worth posting. Plus, I'm going to have lots of cause to post more in the coming months, as I (plan to) chronicle my upcoming foot surgeries, so I may as well resurrect the blog now.I started out last year's resolutions post saying, "This past year was one of the most challenging years of my life." But 2016 has proven to be a hearty rival. The year was heavily mixed with positive and negative events, emotions all over the place. The good: I ran again, I swam, I came back to yoga, I wrote a lot (just not here), I blossomed at work, I loved my family hard. The bad: I injured myself again and couldn't run, I gave up on biking (but later picked it back up), I floundered trying to find purpose, I distanced myself from friends, and I nearly drowned in my anxiety. But I tried, in …

Let the Training Begin ... Please. Please Let It Begin.

Just in time for the start of the summer Olympics, for added motivation, I've laid out my marathon training for the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in November. And having just come home from a few days of fun family vacation at New Smyrna Beach, during which I managed to run once, I'm feeling the need more than ever to get back into a routine. I've been working out most days, but with no real plan or goals. That's been sort of fun, I guess, but it's also left me feeling anxious—that I'll have a hard time adapting back into a routine, that I've lost the drive to train hard, or that I simply care less about training. And if that latter scenario is true, what is there instead? I'm getting ahead of myself, but those are the fears. 



My training plan is adapted from The Complete Book of Running for Women, by Claire Kowalczic, published in 1999. This was my running bible when I first began distance running, about eight years ago now. I find its essenti…