This past weekend, I finished the Little Rock Marathon with a person I met that morning who literally changed my thinking process for the whole race. A select few (super slow) runners were allowed to start the race Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. while the rest slept in until the 8:00 a.m. start time.
The group we formed was happy and eager to get things on the road. I started to run in front of them just to make space and got slightly to the left of a man who was doing the same thing. I believed he was talking to himself when he said, “This feels good.” He noticed me and I gave him an approving nod. Five minutes passed and he repeated himself and I again nodded.
He was an older man and I started to match him step by step. He turned to me and said, “This is a great pace. What do you think?” I agreed and then we exchanged race strategies. Yes, even those runners in the back come to a race with a plan. We also shared that this was our third marathon to run and we liked the early morning start that meant there would be food left.
About two miles into the race, we turn a corner and the State Capital sat lit up on the hill. Nearing the top we saw the police lights where the rabbit runners in our group were beginning to make the turn. He turned to me and said, “Look at our elite group.” I started laughing because marathon organizers make a big deal out of “elite” runners who will possibly win the race and money. Obviously, no one in our group had a chance.
At the 11th mile it started to rain lightly. My new friend said, “My wife thinks that mist makes you look younger,” and he sticks his face out into the rain to get a good dousing. For a 70-year-old man, he looked good and I laughed and then proceeded to do the same maneuver.
I count my lucky stars that I met this positive man and ran this race with him until we parted at mile 24. The weather was cold and wet, the hills were unforgiving, and the roads were packed rocks, but not once did either one of us say a disparaging word.
Mississippi’s poet treasure, Patricia Neely-Dorsey, who also speaks only positive words about Mississippi will be returning to this year’s Author Rodeo Roundup as royalty. Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant has declared her an Official Goodwill Ambassador for Mississippi by stating, “She is always, always celebrating the South and promoting a positive Mississippi through her poems.”
Her poem, “Meet My Mississippi” is currently being considered for the official state poem.