Any world that I’m welcome to

By Christopher Cudworth

Bubble OneOn the way across a wet field this morning I glanced down to see two bubbles intact in the grass. It was impossible to tell how long they had existed or how they got there. Were they the product of a child’s play the night before? Or were they more mundane, the result of someone washing their car in the nearby apartment complex.

Bubble TwoThey looked like two little worlds unto themselves. The entire universe was reflected in the surface of those small spheres. Infinite colors. Infinite everything

By day’s end of course they would be gone. No bubble of that nature lasts forever. But those of us that have blown bubbles and watched them float away, some big and some small, revel in both the creative flair and the ephemeral nature of their existence.

As kids we purchased giant bubble makers. A foot across, they would release bubbles larger than the size of your head. These creations would blub and float and then congeal into slightly droopy spheres. Some preferred to run after these orbs and pop them.

I always loved watching them move across the yard on their own accord. Invisibly moved by some draft of air, they were a world unto themselves.

It seems that we have so many thoughts and dreams that work just like those bubbles. As a young boy I wanted to play pro baseball, then pro football and finally pro basketball. Some of those sports I actually played well enough to make teams and win championships.

Bubbles of change

It was never my “dream” as a child to become a runner. That bubble came about much like the ones I found in the field this morning. My father refused to allow me to try out for the high school football team. Tough as I was at that age, a child of 5’10” and 128 lbs was ill-suited for the game of football. Winning the local Punt, Pass and Kick competition meant nothing either. Those skills were about as related to playing the real sport of football as throwing stones at a bird on a fencepost qualifies you as a pitcher.

So it was that I became a runner, and loved it. From there the dream evolved into an obsession at times. Through high school and college and beyond I lived in a world that revolved around running. Fall, winter and spring there were cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons. Then came summer training as well.

Real world bubbles

The running bubble persisted even after college. As a competitive road and track runner I set all my PRs post-collegiately. That improvement sustained my notion that the bubble was worth chasing a while longer.

But by the time I was in my late 20s and married, I chose to essentially pop that bubble. And within a year of cutting back on the training commitment my times expanded and it was no longer so fun to race. I’d decided there were other worlds worth pursing as well.

My Runner’s World and Running Times magazine subscriptions ran out and I did not renew them for a while. I kept running for fitness however, and enjoyed my weekly mileage without obligation of racing or facing those pressures so readily applied in the competitive years.

I now know that I might have turned down a few more excellent years of racing. But there are no regrets. The world I’d chosen was fulfilling enough.

The RUNNING poster is available for $20. Click for information.

In the interim, I wound up serving the running world in interesting new ways. I’d renewed my magazine subscriptions to have something interesting to read and to keep pace with the world of running. When an article of mine was chosen for publication in Runner’s World, it was noticed by a race director in Lake Jackson, Texas, who asked me to donate artwork similar to that published with the article. I did so, and that set off a relationship with the Brazosport Run for the Arts that lasted five or so years.

In the third year I turned the artwork I was donating into a RUNNING poster for the race. It earned the Runner’s World Cream of the Crop award as one of the Top 5 running posters in the country that year. In succeeding years I did other posters as well. It made the trip fun every year to have some excitement built around the awards ceremonies. The race also featured world class runners from Kenya and America’s leading distance talent. Even the prodigious Eddie Hellybuyck made an appearance one year. His wife was his agent, and we sat around the breakfast table exchanging running stories like old teammates. It actually felt good to be back in the running bubble again.

By today’s world class standards and a marathon record of 2:03-something, the career of Eddie Hellybuyck with a 2:11 PR seems almost quaint. Yet running 5:00 pace for a marathon is still a relatively rare commodity in today’s running world. Even local 5K and 10K races are seldom won in paces much faster than that. The world of running has evolved and improved in some ways and not changed all that much in others.

Now that I’ve somewhat returned to the world of running and love the world of cycling and triathlons too, it feels a bit like coming down in Munchkinland. The colors and characters in tall socks, clown shoes and bodysuits all seem so exaggerated. All our newest gear looks like it was designed by representatives of the Lollipop Guild.

It’s yet another world, and welcome to it. It’s called going with the flow.

Because as Steely Dan once sang:

If I had my way I would move to another lifetime

I’d quit my job ride the train through the misty night time

I’ll be ready when my feet touch ground wherever I come down

And if the folks will have me then they’ll have me

Any world that I’m welcome to

Any world that I’m welcome to

Any world that I’m welcome to

Is better than the one I come from

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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