Outside Anchorage today I nearly ran right past a ptarmigan. Not that I didn't see it, I did, but I almost followed my instinct to keep pace and not stop to and admire the bird. Thankfully I overrode the impulse and paused. They're beautiful creatures, ptarmigans, fat as pheasants with brilliant splash of red over their eye; they're turning white now with winter coming, their breast mottled with the new season's feathers. Watching it for just 60 seconds enriched my run immensely. At times like these I remember Hajime Nishi. I met Nishi in Bozeman when he cold called me at my desk at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and asked me if I wanted to do a story about him. Actually, the volunteer manning Bozeman's visitors center called me and tried to explain why this Japanese man with limited English wanted to talk to the newspaper before giving up and handing the phone over to Nishi. Though I can't remember what I was working on at the time, it must not have been too important because I told Nishi to come down to the office despite only vaguely understanding the gist of his story myself, something having to do with marathons. As it turned out Nishi travels the world competing in the 26.2 mile races, has done them on all seven continents. But what really stuck with me about Nishi was his approach to the races: He tries to lose them. He runs with a camera, takes as many photos as he can, and finishes with times that exceed 10 hours. Nishi told me he used to devote his life to earning wealth, working for a film distribution corporation in Japan. But after he lost his wife to cancer at age 38, he had a revelation that if you're in too much of a rush in life, you're going to miss it. So he started running marathons, and making them last as long as he could, like you might a fine glass of wine. The lesson to slow down in life is cliche, of course, but by the way most of us runners go about our jogs--headphones in, eyes fixed straight down the path, Nike fitband recording every vital data point -- it's perhaps a cliche worth repeating in the running world. For me, the motto will come down to "ptarmigans not mile times."