SEVERAL WEEKS AGO I was running with some others in a moronically long race. I was struggling, but was determined to not stop. I would pass as many people as I could, resolved to not let up.
I came around a corner and was confronted with a long hill that gave no indication of ever leveling off. A sort of despair set in, as I assumed by the incline that I'd see snow up there, perhaps a sherpa, or the ionosphere.
I began my ascent. No surrender.
It was then that I realized the older lady in front of me, who'd been in front of me a long time, was walking now. Aha. Weakness to be exploited. I decided to really dig in and close the gap out of some darwinian opportunism.
I smiled malevolently as I gained on her, huffing and wheezing. Then she started running again.
I had gotten close enough to establish that she was probably two decades my senior, and had better running shoes. But she was pulling away from me again. So I decided to talk to her, despite being in dire need of more oxygen.
"I've been trying to pass you for some time," I yelled up to her, " but having already run 8 miles today, I can't seem to do it."
"Well, this is my third leg of the race, I've got in about 17 miles total."
I laughed loud enough for her to hear me but I didn't think it was very funny.
"Well it sounds like you know what you're doing," I offered. "I'm running as hard as I can but there's just not very much left in my tank. Must be the heat."
"Well honey," she yelled over her shoulder. "I'm a trail runner. And us trail runners know when to run, when to walk, and when to stop. I could do this all day. I guess I will!"
I stopped to gasp, my hands on my knees, waiting for my tunnel vision to pass. The lady walked briskly up the hill another hundred yards, then began running again. She went around a bend and out of sight. I didn't see her after that.
I didn't get a chance to tell her it was the best sermon I heard that weekend.