The theme this week is Running!
I know it is everyone’s favorite activity, that’s why you’re reading a blog about Sicily, right? Well, as it so happens, running is the most inspirational activity of my life, and thus, I just have to write about it from time to time. I will weave Sicily into each day’s story, in small ways, in humorous ways, in ways you’ve not thought of Sicily before.
Today, I was inspired to run by this article from Runner’s World online. The writer, Gerard Pescatore, talks about camaraderie and running and it got my mind grapes thinking back on some great running memories. Also, I read this article while sitting on my couch in Sicily. (Small way today)
One particular set of memories is from the days of the Lombardino’s running club. We were a motley crew and really just making it up as we went along. None of us had been on a cross country team, and few of us had run more than some panting laps around the block. Yet, over the months we spent developing and extending our running histories, we morphed into a regular running club – complete with some club traditions, like personalized “nods” and practicing keeping things “in the vault.”
“In the vault” – Because we all worked together and most of us were friends, we had a pile of common acquaintances, friends, and colleagues. Hence, we had a lot of gossip to dish, a lot of complaints to air, and a lot of blame to pass around. Yet, it is hard to be edgy and cynical when you get up an hour and a half earlier than normal in order to put yourself through physical discomfort. Let’s face it, you’re optimistic about something if you agree to those terms.
Instead of getting down with the gossip, we often ended up talking about ourselves. Fears came to light as we shared insights about our own flaws. Insecurities tumbled out during a lull in a tempo run, and more than one admission spilled forth as we sweated through a long run. Each time we made ourselves vulnerable to each other the group strengthened and the resultant mutual trust bonded us to one another.
Initially, we were all a bit wary that our revelations might come to light after the runs – during the light-hearted bantering that is part and parcel of working in the restaurant industry. In the early days, a personal moment might end with a runner asking to keep the information private. Eventually, someone assured the divulger that the info was “in the vault.” From that point forward, “in the vault” indicated instantly that the information was private. In my experience, we all kept those secrets safely in our vaults and in the collective vault.
Instead of this group dynamic, Gerard Pescatore wrote about the unspoken, or limited-time camaraderies that infuse the running culture. Our group dabbled in those, as well. In particular, we each adopted a signature “nod.” Mr. Pescatore wrote of the camaraderie that warmed his heart from sharing a nod as he passed another runner. The nod acknowledges the effort, sacrifice, passion, excitement, and slew of other emotions and determinations that drive us to lace up our shoes and head out the door.
In the Lombo’s running club, we experimented with what signature style we could add to the “nod” to make it our own. The simple “hiya” hand wave – a quick flip of the wrist to show the oncoming runner the underside of your palm. The “big smile” – where the runner affixes a comically large grin to her face as a runner approaches, almost daring the oncoming runner not to laugh or react. The “gotcha” point – sorta like that annoying uncle who points and nods as he sees you from across the room at grandma’s house, but done to an oncoming runner.
Whatever style we each developed, we would faithfully employ it as we came upon other runners or groups. Silence would descend on the group, and we would maintain our adopted profile until the runner was (hopefully) out of earshot. Then, we would all bust up a bit as we described the reaction we were able to get, or the thoughts we imagined passing through a stranger’s head.
While the running club expanded, shrunk, and eventually petered out, I continue to carry the camaraderies of that time in a special place of my runner’s heart. I bonded with my colleagues, with other runners and with myself as I fell deeper in love with the art of running.