For Claudia Manera and Crossing Paths
As I step into the gym after staying away from it for more than half a year, I couldn’t help thinking again and again about Claudia Manera.
Claudia Manera was a fitness boot camp instructor at my local park as part of the ‘Our Parks’ movement. I tried one of her sessions over in spring and after that kept going back for more. People who attended the boot camp were from a vast range of fitness levels, some were regulars and others were not. Irrespective of it all, Claudia was committed. She was well aware of the progress each of us in the class was making and what we were capable for. Her boot camp along with the season being summer (which meant that I could run outdoors regularly) were the reasons I left the gym.
But now that I am back in the gym, I couldn’t help but remember her.
I am referring to Claudia in past tense because she is no longer with us. On October 12, she was hit by a lorry as she was cycling back from work. I was upset to find out about the accident and kept following her father’s Facebook updates. But I wasn’t worried much, I felt that she would eventually be fine. Then days later when I found that she had succumbed to the fatal injuries, I knew there was no coming back for her. I was saddened, but I must also confess that I forgot about it soon as I got busy with my own life.
But now that I am back in the gym, I couldn’t help but remember her. That if she was still alive, I might not have joined the gym back. I might still be attending her boot camp and running in the park and that would have been enough.
At the gym, I am aiming to run, cross train and row a couple of kilometres each and so I have plenty of time to think about just Claudia. It isn’t that I am forcing myself to think about her, I couldn’t help thinking about her. All this time when she was alive, I didn’t make much effort to know her – that she was an ex-met police officer is fact that I found out only after she was gone. However, now weeks after her death, I find myself trying to hold on to the idea of Claudia a little longer.
Before my Vitality London 10K, I remember walking up to Claudia and asking her sheepishly any tips that she can give me for the race day. She told me not to worry and that the terrain was not too tricky and so I should be fine. A couple of months after the race she asked me which other races I am planning to run. I shrugged my shoulders saying that I feel I can run only one 10K in a year. To which Claudia replied that she felt that I have the ideal body type for long distance women running and therefore I should pursue it more seriously. A professional fitness trainer who has run all sorts of races a countless number of times, saying that she somehow sees potential in me was the compliment I revelled in for days.
Without sounding too philosophical, I must admit that I believe in things happening for a reason. That we meet people for a reason, however brief the period or however casual the purpose. Just like in Richard Bach’s One. We crossed paths with someone and that is the reason we went this way rather than going that way. And so if Claudia and I crossed paths, it was for a reason. I don’t understand the reason or its gravity right now. But I know, one day, it will all come together. Till then, rest in peace Claudia Manera.