Archive for April, 2013

The “Run”

Posted: 14 April 2013 in Everything Else...

I am a runner. And as all runners know, there are a (relatively) few runs over the course of time that stand out as, no hyperbole intended, “epic” runs. The runs that fly by, effortlessly, heart beat kept in check, muscles never tired, like sitting in a library reading a good book. I can count on one hand that kind. And this was one.

I arrived in the city for work without really remembering how I got there, and really wanting to just get back home (just like the way it always was in the last years of my travels). I could not remember the flight there or the ride from the airport to the hotel. I always arrived a few days early so the fact that I had some time to kill was not unusual. Still… this particular trip was… different. I apparently had a whole day to myself and there was time to get settled in. And, not surprisingly, my hosts, aware of my love of running had invited me to run with a few of them on a tour of the city. I was appreciative because some of my best runs ever were during times when I was jet-lagged beyond description (like that run from the canyons to Avila Beach after the 24 flight from India—8 miles that flew by on the sprint from the hills to the sea along the California coast).

Anyway, they encouraged me to tag along and suggested that it would be a great way to get to know the city (Had I been here before? Like I said—the trip was disorienting and I was not totally sure, though everything seemed familiar). There was only one caveat: we were going to a “rough part of town” and they needed to clear it with a seasoned “runner” who knew the terrain. Apparently he was going to “approve” me (or not). Though marginally irked that I might not be able to hack it (I mean, dammit, I had already run in about 30 different countries and was in great shape), I was also cognizant that he may not want to drag someone along who as going to wimp out after a couple of miles in a difficult environment. I counted on my “colleagues” (did I really know these people?) to smooth the way. The fact that they seemed unconcerned about my “fitness” put me at ease.

They picked me up before the sun (I had been up for hours already—again, jet lag) and we headed off to meet the “runner”. We arrived in a part of town (I never really followed the route—why should I, I was with them?), away from where I arrived and they led me into a small room. I knew that the town was poor and “broken down”—I would not have been there if they had NOT needed “development” (right? I mean, that was my job). The “runner” entered soon after (we were about 6 in all) and sidled by. He seemed to pay limited attention to me but, kind of dismissively, acknowledged my presence and indicated I was “good to go.”

But I was caught up short. The “runner” seemed to take me in from “the side.” He never really looked at me but kind of caught me from a peripheral glance. I know it sounds strange but… he did not see me straight on. And I realized right away that he was… He was blind. At least “legally”. He wore no glasses but I knew immediately that he could not “see” (at least in the way I was used to seeing).

But, hell, I was approved and I figured that one of the group was going to guide him on the way. I have seen stranger things. I have known “blind” people who bike (and even a few who drive—during the day), so the fact that he was in that state was not alarming. More a curiosity than a concern.

We headed out soon afterward and, and this this did shock me a bit, he led the way. I mean, no one “guided” him, verbally or otherwise. He was on his own but clearly knew the way. Strange but kind of cool. The minute we left the building where we had all met up I realized that the city was both new and strangely similar to me. (more…)