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One scar for each marathon

Feet sliding, not dragging. His mind ain't slipping but his ears aren't well hearing. I watch him talk on the phone while I listen to the fsst fsst of his slippers leaving the room.

Don't get old he tells me in French. "Stay the age you are." I laugh and tell him I'll try, and I think he's lucky. Not everyone gets to grow old.

He shows me the scars he has on his knees, "one for each marathon." I show him the four finger-long scar I have, and now I know I have to earn it the same way.

We talk a lot about running and I wonder how it makes him feel. It clearly ignites something in him; pride and experience pour out as advice on how to train, although I haven't signed up for any races.

"Ignore the weather, except for wearing a rain-jacket, nothing changes."

"I used to cover 85 kilometers a week, 12 each day and 25 on weekends."

"It 's a drug, the good kind. he assures me. It's windy, it's raining, it's cold? Who gives a f**k!"

"I would be out there or I would be in a terrible mood, you see then that my wife would encourage me to go even in a hailstorm!"

I ask him if he's ever been a smoker, like the many that were of his generation.

"I was at first-- they used to issue us 16 packets of cigarettes per month dans la marine, what else do you do with that many cigarettes?I'll tell you though, the moment we learned what they did to you I rolled down my car window and tossed them all. I haven't taken a drag since."

I asked him, with a touch of bewilderment, if it wasn't hard to quit smoking.

"It was around the time I started running, so you see..."

I did see.

He showed me the x-rays of his knees, full of metal screws and long straight metal rods. In addition, both his knees have been replaced. His recompense for a lifetime of running.

My knee has two titanium screws, unrelated to running.

Still, I have a scar but no medal. His words ring in my ears; "one scar for each marathon."

Googling: Marathons near me, 2024.

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