By- Matthew Giron
"Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long. And in the end, it's only with yourself"
-Popular Song from the 90's, 'Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen'
Upon leaving the midpoint on our morning run we pass by what appears to be a random runner on the opposite side of the street, traveling in the opposite direction. After looking a little closer I see that it is in fact a familiar face - friend and fellow skid row runner Louis. Louis begins with us when we start at the Midnight Mission but quickly falls behind the group as the morning run progresses. Last year, after suffering an injury and unable to run, Louis gained some unwanted weight. Now, the excessive weight makes it very difficult to keep up with the group.
Running alone can be discouraging as Louis related to me one day after a run. He knows, however, that he won't be able to join us one day unless he suffers through these runs alone. Louis keeps showing up and running at his own pace, getting a little quicker with each run. "I wasn't even able to see you guys pass me when I first began months ago!", he proclaimed proudly. "I've already lost 17 pounds since I started running again", he adds.
Louis demonstrates that we can be part of a good cause - even if we can't participate in what would be considered a "normal" capacity. Louis is a full-fledged member of the Skid Row Running Club in the eyes of all the runners! Oddly enough, I'm more inspired watching Louis run alone than by the fastest runners in our club who always finish first.
Watching Louis run alone reminds me that it is OK to go at our own pace in life, even if it means 'falling behind' at times. Whether through unforeseen events out of our control or bad choices for which we are responsible, we all fall behind at times from where we wish to be in life. Will we give up and drop out of the "race" because we aren't "fit"? Will we rise up and keep moving forward, even at a slower pace? Louis provides the answers to these questions using only a pair of running shoes.