You can’t be young and do that.
— the prophet mcmurtry
Relentless forward progress, Bryon Powell once said. Or maybe Fozzie Bear. I get my muppets mixed up on hot days.
I’m on the soccer course, a little 0.4 mile sidewalk circle in a Scottsdale park. I like it because it’s quiet; just a few walkers, runners and dogs. No cyclists, no 30 mph electric scooters, no weird lady on a tricycle with her dog that runs in front of you at the last second so its leash trips you. Peace and quiet and James McMurtry on a loop. Hey. Loop. That could be a catchy name for a running site. Nah.
I’m running 13:30s, which is lightning-fast for me lately and a sure sign that the next round of chemo must be around the bend so I can start all over again. In the realm of performing-enhancing drugs, Obinutuzumab is not one the Tour riders will be firing up between stages. Although I used to be a big fan of Ozomatli.
I enjoy the normalcy while I can, gliding along on a sunny day after a week of monsoon storms.
This course has regulars, the way courses always do. And the folks just ahead of me are my favorites.
He’s old, maybe a little older than me. I’m guessing he’s had a stroke, or something that has reduced him to a shuffle. He walks haltingly with his daughter, who clings to him in a way that is part love and part fear. Their pup tags along, miffed by the slow-motion pace but glad to be outside nonetheless.
He can barely walk, moving inches at a time. But he’s walking. They make it to the bench on the far turn where he sits to rest. Camelback looms in the background. Mountains know things.
Back in the days before the Scottsdale track was closed forever by the evil ogres, Mo and I wished we could ask people to fill out index cards to tell their story, given that we’re too shy to actually talk to them. What was with the guy who run in nothing but shorts and a big wool cap? Who was that woman in Lane 1 running lightning repeats? Why did Sprint Guy come out every day with a set of blocks and a camera? We’ll never know. Same with these folks.
But the old guy still sends a message. Speed is relative. Success is survival. Relentless forward progress. A bear in his natural habitat — a Studebaker.
He is moving so slowly. To the guy streaking by me at 5:30 pace, I must look exactly the same way. But we’ll all end up at the same finish line. Although they’ll be out of Gatorjuice and bananas by the time I get there.
We say hello and goodbye on the next loop, and then the run is over. Until the next one.
Getting old is sort of fun, if you squint hard enough. You can’t be young and do that.
130 days. It can happen.