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I thought I was just running

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Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 12:15 am

Why are you doing this?

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” that’s the question a reporter asks of the bearded man as he makes his way across America.

The answer from Forrest: “I just felt like running.”

Much, I thought, could be my answer when people asked why I ran 31.7 miles in 4 hours, 55 minutes and 35 seconds, from our Lihue home to my favorite bar, Tahiti Nui in Hanalei, on Saturday. Sure, it’s a long way to go for that birthday beer my wife was holding for me when I arrived. It’s a long way to go for some exercise, and a bit dangerous and even foolish, considering the traffic and lack of shoulder room in long stretches of the highway.

Still, it was something I wanted to do. A bucket list item. For some reason, the idea of running from Lihue to Tahiti Nui for a beer appealed to me. I wasn’t trying to set a record, though this might be the most miles run on Kauai followed by drinking a beer. Believe it or not, it actually feels pretty good to be out there, just moving steadily, sweating and feeling alive. Feels wonderful to power up hills, race down the other side and just see what’s left in the tank. Loved it when I stopped in Kilauea and chatted with one gentleman.

“I saw you way back there in Kapaa,” he said. “Keep it up.”

It felt fantastic, coming into Princeville, when I got a high five from a passenger in a car and even better when a group passing by gave me an enthusiastic shout. And, oh, I was flying after crossing the Hanalei Bridge, cranking up the pace, and finishing strong. And when one driver yelled, “You’re a legend,” I had to smile.

And beer has never been better. It was a good day.

One relative, though, insisted there was more to it than just physical fitness. More than seeing the sights and listening to the sounds on Kauai and testing endurance and speed.

“Think about it,” she said. “What are you running from? What are you running toward? Why are you running at all?”

Think about it? Do I have to? I just like to run.

But, later, I thought about it.

What am I running from? Where to start? Old age. Untold mistakes. Missed opportunities. Doubt. Lack of faith. Fear. Uncertainty. The death of my younger sister. Wishing I could have done more for my children. A belief my wife deserved better. Regret that I’m not there for my parents.  

What am I running toward? Well, there’s always hope. Love. Strength. Endurance. Faith. God. A belief that life is and can be beautiful.

Funny, though. It’s far easier to list what I’m running from than to say what I’m running to. I’m not sure what that means, but I don’t suppose it’s a positive sign.

And as for why I’m running at all, that’s easy.

My friend Forrest knows why, too.

It just feels good.

Please don’t ask me why.

• Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at (808) 652-0148.

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