Getting passed: More thoughts on running.

I’ve been a runner since my teens. Not a serious one – I’ve never done a marathon or a half marathon or even a 10K – but I’m reasonably dedicated. Why do I like running? Two reasons: it helps my health and it helps me think, and it’s that latter reason that is the more important of the two. What do I hate about running? Getting passed.

Before my accident, I almost never got passed, and when I did, I stopped thinking about whatever it was I was thinking about and sped up, passed the bastard who passed me, then kept going hard until I was far enough ahead that I could turn onto a side street and, more often than not, stop and heave heavy breaths for a good long time. Stupid, I know. After my accident, I was just glad to be out there running, and if someone passed me – even a girl, god forbid – I would remind myself that I had a brain injury, dammit. 

But lately, getting passed has started to irk me again, only it’s not for the reasons you might think. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that I’m a bit slower than I used to be. As I’ve made clear, I have a brain injury and it’s a pretty solid excuse, I think. No, what bothers me is that those runners passing me by have become metaphors for life passing me by. Some are career opportunities, some are simple, feel-good situations free of dizziness, some are just plain old what-ifs that are no longer what-ifs for me. It’s upsetting.

But I’m not going to stop running. It remains one of my favorite and best times to think. And now when someone passes me, as though I am walking, I no longer snap out of my running reverie and transform into some sort of competitive crackpot. Instead, I try to count my blessings: I remind myself that I could be so much worse off, given the nature of my injury; I remind myself that I am loved and in love; I remind myself that I am writing songs again after years of not writing a single one; I remind myself that I have grown closer to my parents, that I got my Les Paul back, that I live in beautiful city — and most important of all, I remind myself that life is still very much worth living. And then I speed up, just a little.