Not only am I terrible with names but I’m not much better with faces. I need to meet someone a couple of times before my brain stores their information, their name, face, where we’ve met. And context? Yes, please. If I meet someone Bill works with at the Whole Foods prepared food counter I don’t immediately recognize him/her at Starbuck’s a month later. If I run into a friend of a friend who I’ve met several times, but not in the last five years, I’m not quick with their name, have to root around my brain trying to tease it out of my grey matter.
When I see someone I haven’t seen in a while, anyone who’s known me for the last fifteen years, they almost always ask “are you still running?” immediately after “hello.”
Until now, I’ve been able to say “yes,” with confidence. But, this year I’ve scaled way back. I haven’t run any races since the NJ Marathon (not that I race them), don’t have plans to run any the rest of the year. I’ll be skipping the New Haven Labor Day 20K for the first time since I started running the course in 2001.
A couple of months ago I started meeting a friend twice a week, Tuesday and Friday mornings, at 5:30. It’s been rough getting up at 5:00 am, mainly because I’m out of the habit of early to bed, early to rise. But, once I’m up I’m ready to go. And running with my friend, sharing secrets, solving our own and each other’s problems in that first hour of the day is a great way to start it.
But when I get asked “are you still running?” I hesitate.
The correct answer is “yes, I’m still running,”
I want to say “yes, but here’s the caveat.”
“I’m still running but not as much as I was when you last saw me.”
“I’m still running but not training for anything, no marathons, no half marathons.”
“I’m still running but not enough to stave off gaining 10 lbs.”
All true statements. But also true? Nobody’s scrutinizing my activity level and nobody cares. People are being friendly, asking about something they know I enjoy, making small talk. They’re not interested in how many days I run, how many miles I log, what my average pace is (unless they’re another runner).
Ego. I’ve got one. And it’s huge at times.
I know people are being polite when they ask me if I’m still running. Most aren’t sure if 5K is more or less than 5 miles, think running either distance is an achievement; they’re right.
So, next time I see that woman who looks familiar, the one I’d see walking her dog on my street before moving out of the neighborhood 7 years ago, and she asks me if I’m still running I’ll tell her yes. Then I’ll ask her, hopefully by name, what she’s been doing and how her dog is.