He’s in the parking lot with an elastic band around his ankles. The ITB Waddle of Shame. I take consolation in the knowledge that even the gods can have an occasional limp.
Today is my first day of feeling semi-human again after the flu. It’s a glorious, sunny day at the track. I have long since given up on trying to describe how happy the track makes me. But I drift back to the words of the prophet Sheehan: “The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.” This is what’s perfect for me.
I’m strolling for an hour, with a few little trotlets thrown in. I like the idea of an hour a day. Long enough to make it worthwhile, short enough that I don’t relapse and croak on the infield.
The fast guy has finished his rehab and is on the dirt road. His yellow Saucony bag is in lane 9 on the far side. No surprise. What IS a surprise is that there is another matching bag there. It must belong to the woman in Lane 1, who is running at the crazy-fast pace you’d expect from someone whose bag matches fast guy. She floats along at maybe 5k pace. They’re from Colorado (OK, I peeked at his license plate in the parking lot.) Seems like he’s been here a month or so now. I guess it beats the snow.
I feel OK. I’m not coughing as much stuff up, meaning either I’m better or the stuff is hiding. I’m OK with either scenario. A comfy sub-15 pace. Lane 7. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to settle into a rhythm on the track. The miles go by without thinking. I daydream about last night’s headlines, about the guy who got busted at Across The Years for hiding in the port-a-pot, about whether the two-hour marathon barrier will go down while I’m still alive.
It’s the usual array. A guy is running the bleachers at a lunatic pace. A football player is running the outline of the field. A woman about my age is walking in lane 5. Two people in jeans and shirts are walking on their work break from school. Doctor’s orders? A youngish woman is doing 100 repeats. The yellow bag woman finishes her run and sits down on her mat in lane 9 to stretch. Fast guy comes back from his run, does an endless series of Funny Runner Exercises, and then starts his mile repeats. Lordy, he’s fast.
I make it to 4.15 miles before the hour is up. I think I’ll like this game. I can feel my face is slightly sunburned. I love that feeling. Yeah, I know. But still. I love that feeling.
I sit down to look at my splits. Fast guy comes flying past in lane 1. Fast woman is doing planks on the back straight. Football guy walks by and says hey. I say hey back. I hit pause on the music and walk toward the lot.
It’s silly to attempt to explain that failing. The happiness of doing what you love, surrounded by people doing the same. A sense of belonging in a land of strangers. A camaraderie of suffering and joy. Finding something that’s so perfect, and so simple.
I’m a very fortunate person.