Running long distances is good for the soul and the sole.
|Word Count: 581
By Donna Lowich
“Hey, you ready to go?” Nick stopped by to get my son, Jeff, for the first of their daily runs together.
Nick was a friend of Jeff’s former roommate, Jim, and all three had become close during the previous year. Jeff was now a junior, while Nick and Jim had recently graduated.
Nick graduated with a degree in criminal justice, and was now providing security at the county courthouse. But, his goal was to join the ranks of the state police.
Qualifying to be a state trooper included running 1-½ miles in fourteen minutes. Nick and Jeff were weight lifters, lifting partners in fact, and while the bench pressing requirements weren’t going to present any problems for Nick, the running might. He had been training but was suffering from shin splints, an occupational hazard for long-distance runners.
Jeff wasn’t a devoted runner, but had run cross-country track in high school for several years in order to train for the baseball and basketball seasons. Immediately upon hearing that Nick had to train for his state trooper job, Jeffrey offered to run with him; they would then keep each other company and on schedule.
Nick readily agreed and soon the two were running four or five days a week. Depending on the weather, they chose different areas for their run. The local park had a track that they liked to use, so when the weather made the track slushy or icy or just plain snowy, they experimented with different types of running shoes to see which would work best on the track that day. Pretty soon, Nick and Jeff could run in just about any kind of weather; they knew how to adjust quickly. It also made running on a dry track that much easier by comparison.
Their conversations ran the gamut. The topic visited most, of course, was girls. Nick had recently met his future wife, Linda; Jeff was casually dating. They also talked about running strategies. Jeff used to love sprinting at the end of cross country meets no matter how tired he was, so he was always trying to convince Nick to do the same thing during the test just in case his time ended up being close to the qualifying time.
Their love of the New York Giants was another frequent topic. The Giants made it to the Super Bowl that winter. Before the big game, they marveled at how the Giants made it this far and how well they had been playing. However, after the 34-7 loss to the Ravens, this topic was removed from the list of possible conversation subjects.
The day and time eventually arrived for the qualifying run. Despite the pressure and nerves the situation imposed on him, Nick ran the course, and passed with plenty of time to spare!
He completed the courses at the academy and now his lifelong dream has become a reality. Six years later, Nick still loves being a state trooper, he and Linda are happily married, have a family and own their home.
Friendships are built over time and in a variety of ways. Nick and Jeff were good friends before they started running, but their runs certainly brought them closer together. Their paths crossed while at college. But the journey towards a solid friendship began during their daily runs, built on the foundation of common interests, a discovery that began on a slushy track one snowy day in January. That friendship continues to this day; “sole” mates forever.