Dear Other Runner, Thanks for Being There

Dear other runner,
Just seeing your tracks
in the skim of snow
Made my legs stronger
Gave me strength to finish
Thanks for going before

This morning I ran my first 10k in more than a month, and my only outdoor 10K this winter. Parts of the path were very slippery, forcing me to slow to a shuffle to avoid falling on my backside. Everything had a light skiff of snow on it. Well into mile 4, I came upon footprints in the shallow snow. They were the definite tread of a runner’s shoes, with long strides and footfalls almost in line with each other.

Someone else had been there!

Post-run, not looking good!
Post-run, not looking good!

I’d seen no one, been the lone crazy on the icy trail. The painful clench that I’ve had in my chest for nearly a month was returning, and my mind was screaming at me that I’d never make it all 6.2 miles. I’d been away from that distance too long. I’d gone soft. I was still sick.

But just knowing someone else had run that way was a reassurance. I held my pace. At the end of mile 5 I found tracks again. I kept going, spurred on by that invisible runner.

I finished my 10K. Despite the negative self-talk, my time was quite comparable to previous runs. Thanks, other runner.

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