Northbound: And the sun will rise

I have an update from last week’s column about falling behind on running.

This week, I did something a bit crazy (and unadvisable) — I ran three days in a row. Usually, your body needs time to recover, or your stiffness and soreness could become a pulled hamstring, shin splints, or worse. Maybe I need to make up for lost time. Maybe I know, deep down, what I’m capable of, and how unlikely I am to feel any physical repercussions from pushing myself.

I’m pleased to report that my runs were successful — my finishing time was garbage, sure, but I did it, and it feels great. Runners feel this daily muscle tension, firmness, when we’re active. I love having that feeling back.

My week culminated in joining a weekly run group, which I’ve frequented before. Our group leader was happy to see me again, and about 25 of us ran up and down the coast for 3 ½ miles or so. This wasn’t nearly as physically punishing as I thought it would be, though admittedly I was in perhaps the middle of the pack. It was great to see so many familiar faces again, and join them for some beers afterward.

Our group leader, however, wasn’t his exuberant self. You can tell when someone is having a bad day. Surprisingly, he was sporting lots of gray hairs on his head. “I’m having the worst year of my life,” he told me. Dumbfounded, I had a hard time putting any consoling words together.

Admittedly, last year was the worst year of my life. I lost my last two living grandparents, and said goodbye to other loved ones and friends I’ve known in my life. It’s never easy to say goodbye, to come across changes in our life that we’d like to avoid. Sometimes we try to look for a deeper meaning, but there usually isn’t.

Running regularly last year helped me stay focused in my life, to divert the pain and loss I was feeling. My running group was some sort of therapy I suppose.

I’m reminded of a line from a film, “There are no answers, only choices.” Pain, grief can paralyze you, and pin you to the floor if you let it. We can do something about it — we can live our lives and remind ourselves that there’s so much more to see, to experience, especially love and joy. It’s out there.

I sent some friendly, reassuring texts to our group leader afterward. He’s a tough guy, and I know he’ll get through this — and we will be there with him through it all.

My father likes to recount what his Marine Corps drill instructor used to commonly say: “And the sun will rise.” Despite all that life throws at us, there will be a tomorrow, a new day — a fresh chance.

Get out there, everyday, and move forward. Run forward, if you can.

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.

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