Catch Me If You Can

I want to win a 5K. A particular 5K that takes place every spring in our town. I won it once. Not because I was faster back then, but because The Purple Lady didn’t know about the race. She knows about it now. And she beats me. Every year. Not just in this 5K either. She beats me in lots of 5Ks. Not the whole race, just our age group. She is older than me, but not old enough to get into the next age group. And so I have to beat her. I have a goal.

I met her once. The Purple Lady. I introduced myself. I was working in a soup kitchen, serving food to the less fortunate. She was in line. She works the earlier shift and one of the benefits is a free meal. She eats the free meal. I do not. The food is cold and doesn’t look good. Maybe the cold food is the key to her speed. I don’t think so.

Hello, I say. I know you because you run. You are fast. I see you in 5Ks. The Purple Lady’s hair is purple. That is how I gave her the name. Now I know her real name, but I still think The Purple Lady when I see her. Thank you, she says. I know you too, she says. You are fast, she says.

I am not fast. I am much slower than The Purple Lady. Three minutes is significant in a 5K. Thank you, I say.

Have you been running a long time?, I ask. No, she says. I had a bad marriage and I left it and then I started to run. I ran away from my marriage and I haven’t stopped running, she says. She laughs. She’s nice.

I am thinking, I want to beat you, Purple Lady. You are my goal.

I run the race  route once each week. I’ve been doing that since most of the snow melted away. Before that, I ran on the treadmill. Sprints. Sometimes I just run the hill on the route. My husband told me to do hill repeats. He knows my goal. And he supports me. I think. He also rolls his eyes. I think. That’s ok. I like goals.

My youngest son gets up late for school. Every day, he gets up late. I yell to him from the kitchen. Get up, get up, I yell. You are going to be late. Get up. He gets up late. Every day he does.

His face is smeared with chocolate ice cream. Always. He showers, I think, but misses his face. He tells me he is walking to school. It is too late, I say. You won’t make it. He glances out the window as his friends walk by. He watches them. He is thinking.

He won’t leave without breakfast, that I know. He wants to gain weight. He is focused on gaining weight. He needs food. All of the time. He wants to weigh 90. He weighs 88.3. He tells me his weight every day. Many times. I will weigh 90 soon, he says. I will.

He finishes breakfast. His friends passed our house 10 minutes ago. The route to school is one mile. His friends are half way there, I am certain. At least half way.

I will catch them, he says. I am fast. He puts on his shoes. Not his shoes, but his brother’s old shoes. They are easy to slip on and that is why he likes them. They don’t slow him down. Those shoes are not running shoes, I say. They are not good to wear to catch your friends. They are fine, he says. Clean your face, I say. I did, he says. He did not.

Good bye, he says. He runs. I watch him run. He will catch them, I say to myself. He likes goals.

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