My program calls for a core training session today. Instead I ran. I had to. It was at this park, my weekday playground that about 4 or 5 years ago, I got to know one of the gentlest and soft-spoken fellow runner. Introduced to me by Rohaizad, another friend whom I’m seeing so little off these days, Yong always had an easy going demeanor. His favorite shoe was the Kayano. We were among the first group of runners to make the park our own. Memories of our pack (sometimes up to 6 fellas) doing our tempos always make me smile.
Over the years, Yong gradually slowed down. His knees eventually saw him lay off the marathon and I began to see less of him at the park. Whenever I saw him, he was going at a leisurely pace always urging me to go ahead and not let him slow me down. Away from the park, we would bump into each other at my office building, usually over the lunch hour when he dropped by to make his monthly payments. Our conversations were all too quick but he always had a ready smile. Due to his nature of work, I always saw him in t-shirt, jeans and New Balance. The last I saw him was at least 2 months ago when he admitted he hasn’t been running much, devoting more time to his family commitments.
Yong and I are of the same age, and share similar challenges in balancing work, family and our true passion in running. And today I received word that he passed away last Friday. It was a heart attack and had been quick. I’ll miss seeing him and catching up around the office or at the park – rare it may be. I pray that his family stays strong. I pray that he’s in a better place.
So today, I ran 3 laps in memory of my friend. 3 slow laps.
Originally published: August 13, 2012.