Today was one of those reaffirming days, affirming why I run. Beautiful late August. Indeed the last Sunday in August which meant heading up to the Rockies. Of my little group, Bobby P was the only one to appear. The Sleepy Hollow HS parking lot, though was full and large groups headed out at 8, with Bobby and me starting shortly thereafter.

Now running with him meant there was no group-cover. He is kind, though, and takes it easy on me. But it was still a bit much. On the first climb I said “I don’t know how long I can handle this pace”, to which he replied (truthfully) “You’re setting the pace”. I push things (not “push” so much as retain a rhythm) on the uphills because I’m afraid that I’ll collapse otherwise, and this is often an issue running at the Rockies since I’m frequently running harder (albeit relaxedly) than I would on a flatter course.

It was sunny and warm but not crushingly so, and I elected the no-shirt approach given the amount of shade. And I hurt. But never was I in any danger. The thought of the upcoming route — we headed to Swan Lake but decided to head down after the Visitor’s Center to do 13-Bridges counterclockwise — was more of an issue than the route itself (although I was a bit stressed on the 13-Bridges uphill) and I covered the final mile in a pretty quick pace. The final mile, I should say, is a fairly flat if not slightly uphill stretch on the Old Croton Aqueduct, finishing at the high school. After what’s been left behind it’s a natural place to open up a bit to finish strong.

Bobby headed out for some more miles, seeing some guys he knew as we neared the end, and I hung on to finish (according to my Garmin) remarkably fast (I was trying, successfully, to catch a small group ahead).

I write about it, though, not to speak of the run itself but to note the communal aspect. With my recent ups-and-downs I’ve been up-and-down on the whole running thing. But it was the chatting with other runners of my acquaintance waiting for Bobby that brought me back. Drinking nice water on a clear summer day. And being a part of it.