March 9, 2013, early on in my first ever half marathon, we passed a mile marker, and someone shouted, “Four! Who likes four? FOUR!!” While I always enjoy enthusiasm, I was thinking to myself, “We’re only on mile 4?” We still had such a long way to go. Though I wasn’t feeling it at the time, the joke’s on me in end, because I’ve thought of that guy on just about every single long run I’ve done since then. I felt like I’d never be done, and now it’s a long time ago. Well played, ‘who likes four’ guy.
Going much farther back, to a year I decline to state, when I was 19, I read something in a magazine that has resonated with me ever since. When young people were asked what time of their life they most looked forward to, they typically chose their 30s, because they’d have the house, the career, the marriage, the kids…all the questions would be answered. On the flip side, when people over 70 were asked what time of their life they remembered being the most stressful, they chose…their 30s! Because they had thehousethecareerthemarriagethekids. Surprise! When you have all the answers, everyone keeps coming at you with their questions. They say 40 is the new 30, which puts me smack dab in the middle of all of it, and I have to say, I think about this article all. the. time.
Lately I’ve been running a new route in the mornings, and I keep seeing the same couple out for a walk together. We see each other often enough that we’re now on a wave hello basis. (I don’t know if we’ll upgrade to stop and chat level though.) I try not to project too much backstory onto total strangers, but they do at least look like they’re enjoying the golden years together. And I think about all of this every time I see them. Once upon a time, they were at mile 4, they were in the high stress years, they were in the shit, and now that was a long time ago. Knowing that it will all be behind me someday keeps me going through the hard parts. So thanks, random guy/magazine article/couple on a walk/and everybody else who’s helped me get through mile 4. I hope I’ve done the same for you.