By this time in the spring, or for at least the last three, I am in throes of marathon training. The last two years I have been on way to an obnoxious number of miles on the Saturday before Easter. I would get up at dawn, dress, eat, get my running list playing, text my running buddy and slide out the door.
I could do the run in my sleep. In fact, if I close my eyes and I can still picture all the mileage. Run north on Comanche, turn east and pass North High School, run around Lowell Elementary, turn left on Madison. There is a church on Madison that had a “tomb” and two Roman soldiers standing guard starting Good Friday until (I imagine, anyway) Easter morning. At this point in my run, still in a good mood and really just getting started, I would see these soldiers. As I approached, they would stand. Being a Christian on Easter weekend and feeling feisty starting on my long run, I called out.
“He Is Risen!” I raised my arms to the sky and flashed a huge smile of thankfulness. As an aside, I love Easter. The whole idea of the holiday and unconditional love and forgiveness and all that gets me a little choked up. But I digress.
I expected, and wanted, a response mirroring my proclamation. “Yeah, that’s tomorrow”, is what I received, as if they were fraternity brothers coming home from a rough night. WHAT? I carried on with the run, a bit confused. Turning down Moreland I could help but giggle at the silliness of it.
When meeting my friend Mike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as I did many a Saturday, I told him about the encounter with the Roman soldiers and we had a good laugh. As a fellow runner, church goer and generally good person he would run outrageous distances with me for fun while I trained. I also think that he enjoyed my suffering, as he is a stronger runner than I, but that’s not important now.
Saturdays used to be my long run mornings because of church commitments on Sunday. This spring my long runs have changed to Sunday mornings for group runs with the (apparently godless) Canadians. Today, the day before Easter, I had short run in the crisp morning sun. But something was missing. As I passed a small church in the neighborhood, I was reminded of the previous years and the Roman soldiers. I was thinking that if Mike were here we would most likely be discussing legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, the recent election in Wisconsin, church, our spouses and kids, goings on at work and do a little singing in the later miles. I was thinking that I missed those Roman Soldiers this Saturday.