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Early Morning Runs

For some reason I couldn’t sleep in this morning. Doesn’t it figure when you have the chance to sleep in, you wake up long before the time you would have ever set your weekday alarm to. As annoyed as I was, it afforded me the chance to watch the sunrise over the mountain, something I must admit that I am not often up in time to see. Who am I kidding, the sunrise has been hidden behind overcast clouds for the past three months of rainy season? But, what does that matter, I wouldn’t have been up to see it anyway. It is breathtakingly beautiful – something most people would only have the opportunity to see on vacation in the mountains, yet it is just a part of the everyday scenery around here. Since I was up, I decided to go ahead and get my run on and watch the sunrise.

I was already headed out on my run when I found some new and unlikely running partners hanging around town. As I was running down the road, two members of our local little league soccer team saw me and asked if I was running. Since I was mid-stride I didn’t really understand the point of the question, but I agreed that yes, I was running. Then one of them asked if they should come with me. We often have kids who like to run alongside of us for a minute or two, but that is not what he was asking. He wanted to know if the two of them could run the whole distance with me. I told him I was running a distance of 3 miles thinking that might change his mind – he couldn’t have been more than 8 – but he said, “No problem.” So I said, “Come on.” He then summoned two other friends so there were four of them and one of me running down towards the asphalt. I don’t really like running on the asphalt, since it is not very scenic and is much more crowded, but I wasn’t in the mood to run my usual route which consists of running the first mile and a half almost all uphill. For some reason, the idea of gasping for air for the next half hour did not sound appealing to me at 6:30 this morning. Can’t imagine why. As we hit the asphalt which is a major highway running through town (and the only asphalt around), I know we must have been a sight. A white girl masquerading as a pirate (I was wearing capri length, ultra baggy sweatpants and a bandana on my head as is the cultural mandate for female sport attire here) with four little African children running behind me. The youngest was probably 8 and the oldest couldn’t have been more than 12. I hadn’t been thrilled this morning about running through town by myself, but now I didn’t have to worry. I felt well protected and in good company with my new little friends.

One little kid, the one who asked me about running to begin with, and the one I will refer to here on out as “Speedy Gonzalez” had all the spunk and energy that an 8 year old boy should have. He would kick it into high gear and run ahead and then slow down and trot alongside of me checking often to make sure he was right beside me, as if it were his duty in life to run side by side with the white girl. Then occassionally he would freely zig zag in front of me or do a little dance along the way. I was beginning to worry that my pace wasn’t fast enough for him and all his energy, but that changed later on. Apparently, the kids weren’t conditioned to run the hills – I think most of their running is on a flat soccer field – but they didn’t want to tell me they were tired. Over and over again, I would ask if they were tired and I would get a finger wag (similar to what you would do to a small misbehaving child) which can be paraphrased as “Absolutely not.” Culturally, it is very difficult for them to admit when they are tired. You will rarely get someone to say that they are tired even when one glance at their worn out faces tells you differently. Finally, at the top of one of the last hills, Speedy Gonzalez, who was in his place right beside me, looked at me and said, “I am tired.” My thought was that I would continue and he could rest, but he would have none of that. So, I rested a minute and as soon as I said I was going again, he and all the others came right along with me and we finished our 3 mile early morning run together. Did I mention that two of the boys, including Speedy Gonzalez, ran all 3 miles in flip floppy sandal things with no strap on the back? If that was a hindrance to them, they certainly never let on.

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