Why Do We Run?

The time for a decision was really getting close. The subway platform was full, the stalled carriage  before us full but with doors stuck open, another car was approaching but backed up, and time was ticking away on the clock. If I was going to have any chance of making the 5:15 out of the bigger station, I had to go NOW, run up and out the exit and begin to power stride across the under-construction bridge, through the muggy Boston Basin air, and “go for it.” Making up my mind, I ran out.

I hurriedly began the worm-like passage: up, across, back down, through a walker’s tunnel, back up to the other side, and across the bridge. Various folks I’d asked were not even sure the bridge was open to pedestrians despite their having seemingly come across it. Never mind, I was passing people with bags, backpacks, all the trimmings of people heading home from the office yet also toting part of the office appended to themselves.

Picking up the pace, I kept a close check on my phone, that is, my watch. I’d walk-run,  then jog a little, then mentally give up and walk normally for a bit. It was easy to oscillate between hope and sweet resignation.

Why try to make it? It was near 90 degrees.

Why NOT try? People at home had meetings to get to, and I didn’t really relish standing around the dark station another 40 minutes.

OR better yet, this mental exchange:

Why try to run this and have a health incident?

Why NOT try? You still have some remnant of fitness, don’t you?

5:11 at the parking garage across from a stretch spanning traffic on two busy roads. 5:13, inside the station, now at a near break out run. 5:14, fall into a train car seat. 5:15, train pulls out.

Why do we run? What makes us “try” to attain these small goals? It’s not just that we seek to reach home quickly on a beautiful (though warm) summer day, or that we long to put a tough day at the office behind us. We run because we like to be as young as we once were AND have the miles behind us we do at the same time. Somewhere inside us, we like to pose and meet a challenge, even if we are the only one who knows. Today I know luck played a role in my reaching my seat. But I  also know I would have been faster without the office strapped onto my back.

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