The server at the restaurant walked up and got our order going. When she returned I told her how much I liked the establishment’s owner. “He seems like a good man,” I offered.
“He treats us so well,” she replied. “When we need a day off he’ll even take a shift to make sure we have the time. I’m 20 and can’t serve downtown (Chicago) so I commute out here to work. I’m in school and taking an organic chemistry class and it’s pretty hard,” she admitted. “So I’m pretty busy.”
She told us her major is pre-med. We talked about her plans for a career in medicine. Her interests are still in the formative stage, but psychiatry was one line of potential pursuit. “Our country doesn’t do enough for mental health,” she observed. She ran through a few equally compelling options. This young woman is articulate, considerate and compassionate. 20 years old and thinking big.
She came back with our orders at the moment when my buddy and I were talking about some running history. We’d been teammates back in high school track/cross country and college track. I once wrote about his wife on this blog as she’d done some remarkable things restoring a high school cross country program in their Virginia town.
Our server overheard our running talk and asked about our backgrounds. “I just ran a half marathon,” she laughed. “It was awful. I’m never doing that again.” Her experience goes to show that with all the triumphs and 13.1 stickers on the back of vehicles, there are also people who still find it damn hard to cover the distance.
We discussed her experience. “I admit I was really busy leading up to the race,” she said. “Classes are so busy and I’m working and spending time with friends,” she offered.
“You should be doing all those things,” I assured her. “You’re young and focused on some important stuff.”
“I didn’t run at all in the two weeks leading up to the race,” she laughed. “Then when I got out there…it was fun for the first 10K…even up to eight miles,” she recalled. “Then I was so… done.”
She threw a hand on her hip as she thought about the race. “We set a goal of 2:30 and I ran 2:45. My friend was running so easy and I was not having fun at all. But we only missed our goal by 15 minutes so it’s not that bad I guess.”
My friend and I offered some encouraging words. “You can try it again when you have more time to train,” I offered. “To do a race like that you have to set some things aside and really focus.”
“Yes, I know,” she responded. “There’s just so many things I want to do.”
Indeed. Her future seems bright even though the half-marathon turned into a difficult slog. Perhaps there’s a lesson in experiences like that, but not always. Sometimes it just is what it is. A run that didn’t go so well is neither the end of your efforts or the end of the world.