This happened a couple of weeks ago:

It’s summer. 11:00 in the morning and it’s already 85. I’m running up Baier Street, one of the steep hills in the neighborhood. I’m about halfway up and I see a guy unloading a lawnmower getting ready to get to work. I say something to him about how hot it is and that it’s only going to get hotter. As I pass him, he says something about pain and never being alone. Yeah, that’s appropriate for both of us.

As I reached the top of the hill, I began to wonder if what he said was a quote. So this evening I looked it up. Here it is:

Make friends with pain and you will never be alone.

You’ll never guess where it comes from. Christopher McDougal.

Does that name ring a bell? It won’t unless you’re a runner.

Christopher McDougal used the quote in his book, Born to Run, the story of the ultra-distance runners of the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. A fascinating book, especially if you’re a runner. In the book, McDougal quotes Ken Chlouber, Colorado miner and creator of the Leadville Trail 100-mile race.

Make friends with pain and you will never be alone.

Now I wonder. Is the guy with the mower a runner? A reader? Both? Or did he just pick up the quote along the road of life? I hope I see him again. I’ll ask.

So today I’m out running again. Just the flats today.

Is that him? I think it is. So I stop. He’s trimming a yard and when I approach he turns off the trimmer. I remind him of our encounter a couple of weeks ago. He remembers. Tells me the quote again.

I ask him where he got it. A podcast, he says.

I tell him that its from Born to Run, the story of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico.

Yeah, the barefoot runners, he says.

He tells me he used to run. Ran the Charleston Distance Run. Now he lifts weights. And mows grass.

He pulled the cord on his trimmer and he was back to work.

And I ran on down the road.