I’ve always thought there were two kinds of runners. The kind who have dodged a train while doing their track workout, and those who haven’t.
I had always been the latter. Now I’m the former.
I went to the track tonight for a peaceful twilight run, a chance to be alone and contemplate life as I circled the little cinder path as the sun slowly gave way to the soft hues of twilight.
What I found was a pack of screaming kids and the headlight of a train.
Tonight was the fall festival for the track’s school. There was much mayhem in the playground area across the street. It spilled over onto the track, where a small locomotive was doing figure 8’s in the area I normally do ovals.
It was called The Crazy Train. Not a reassuring name. But I figured if you have to die, being run over by a train on a running track at a fall festival would make a pretty good introductory paragraph to your obit. Not quite of the “Poor Kid Ordered Into Rickety Tower During 50 MPH Winds So He Could Film Useless Workout Video” stature, but better than “Elderly Copy Editor Dies at Desk; Sits Eight Days Before Anyone Notices.”
I asked the Crazy Train Conductor if it was OK. He gave me the shrug of someone who is not making enough money to worry much about it, so I was off.
It actually made for a pretty hilarious run. I wondered what the heck a 6-year-old kid could possibly enjoy about sitting in a train doing figure 8’s on a track at 5 mph.
Then I remembered our childhood in San Angelo and riding the little train that circled Neff’s Amusement Park. We rode it a million times and it was always a spectacular adventure. I can’t imagine how exciting it would have been to see an old guy running past me. I should have charged them extra.
And maybe that’s the secret to running as we get older. Tap into that wide-eyed wonder we had when we were young. Make every day an adventure. Make every train crazy.
Four miles later with no calamities (one close call where we both zigged and zagged at the same time), I reluctantly left. I’ve never had so much fun on the track.
Tomorrow I’ll go back and there won’t be a train. But its well-word path in the cinder will be there to remind me. You never have to get old.
I might even run a few figure 8’s. Because I’m still crazy …