Saturday, July 16, 2011

Setting The Pace

     I've never been a runner, but I hold a lot of respect for them. By virtue of their preferred sport they are literally willing to go the distance, with few stops and all sorts of pounding and pressure against their joints. While I too am willing to go the distance I prefer a very fast walk and an occasional pause. It's less painful to my body.
     I'm fortunate to call Central Park my backyard, a place where I can walk for miles in calm surrounded by trees, great expanses of  green lawn and little automobile traffic, especially on the weekends.
     Unless of course that weekend includes a race. There are a lot of them this time of year. Which is why I generally avoid the park on a weekend morning. But today I forgot. In fact it didn't even occur to me as I entered at 7:50 this morning. Until I saw the cones and the people standing guard in their neon vests. And that big overhead sign.
     I asked when it was starting, hoping I would hear 9. That would have given me plenty of time to get in my walk and be gone before the herds started. But the man said 8. Ten minutes  was barely enough time to decide if I should go East first or stay West. I thought about turning around and heading straight to Starbucks for a coffee, but then I remembered this is my park too. I have a right to enjoy it. I would figure this out.
     Within no time the swarm of runners were next to me. I hovered as close to the edge as I could. But if you've ever been in a pack of road racers and not running, you can understand how people not moving fast enough can get trampled in a crowd. I got a little uneasy and stopped close to the Boathouse and watched.
     I thought if I waited the thickness would dissipate and I would find my own lane. But from the way things looked that might be around Noon and I did not have that much time.
     Then as I watched the faces staring straight ahead trying to find their pace, their numbers pinned to their shirts, it hit me that this was a great big metaphor for this crazy, busy world we are all living in. Everyone pointed forward, trying to stand in their own place, not necessarily caring to make room for anyone else, but trying desperately to get to the finish line in their best time. Some were running very fast and some running about as fast as I walk. Some had people cheering them on and some were doing it all alone.
     I'm not one to stand on the sidelines so when I saw my opening, I took a deep breath and I fell back in to my walk. No one seemed to notice I did not wear a number pinned to my t-shirt. No one seemed to notice much of anything except where their next step was and who was in their way. I kept myself out of the chaotic middle which is how I like to live my life. But I also kept myself in the game, at my pace in my time, and yes, walking not running, I reached my finish line. 


Are you setting your pace or is someone else setting it for you?
Do you hold yourself back when things seem to get too crowded or do you forge on?


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