I ran on the track today. It’s the best time of year here. Upper 70s, sunny, perfect. I came out to see what it feels like to run on the track when not dressed like a Santa navigator. Refreshingly cool.
I was running a nudge over 3 miles, just moseying along and enjoying the day. And watching him.
He’s big. Maybe a lineman kind of guy. Tall, broad, muscular. I made a point to keep a respectable distance between his backpack on the bench and my diet coke. He died doing what he loved. Being pummeled by an irate football player over an aspartame mishap. Bad obit.
He’s wearing some sort of oxygen deprivation mask. Old T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, totally soaked. Baggy shorts, the way the kids wear them.
And silver-sequined football shoes.
How does one even go about getting shoes like that? Is there some specialty store for aspiring stars? These are shoes that say “I am a star don’t even think about pouring your diet coke in my backpack.” And why would you wear them on a day when it’s just you and your thoughts alone on a football field working out next to the sign that says “don’t work out on this football field”?
He’s got one of those little things that looks like a hopscotch course for football players. He’s doing a drill where he starts on one end, does a series of lightning-quick step step step step step step drills, working his way down. Left right left right forward left right left right. It looks incredibly hard to do that quickly. He screws up occasionally. When he does, he stops and goes back to the first. Repeat as necessary.
I watch as I do my loops. He’s very intense. Burst burst burst rest burst burst burst rest. It’s humbling as a casual jogger to watch workouts like this, when someone is absolutely pushing his limits with nobody watching, answering only to the demands he puts on himself.
Another guy is doing a series of 40-yard sprints, but he loses interest pretty quickly. I thought they were together, but that guy leaves. The one with the silver shoes stays.
I finish up my 3.2 or so and sit on the bench, pretending to check my phone while I watch. Is he a college guy on spring break, working out in hopes of landing in the NFL? Is he a big deal who I don’t recognize? I laughed at a TV reporter who interviewed Adrian Peterson for a man-on-the-street interview without having a clue who he was. Is this something similar? I’m the moron who shared the track for a year with the decathlon world champion before realizing who he was. Beats me. Sometimes I hate being an introvert, unable to ask.
I think you learn a lot about athletes by watching when they’re alone. Slap on the breathing apparatus, lace up the silver shoes, and work until you fall down. Not because you have to; just because you need to. To satisfy that voice within.
I walk off the track, humbled for the millionth time in my running career. I’ll try harder. Really.
Someday I would love to deserve silver shoes …