Looking back at the years gone by
like so many summer fields
— the prophet clyde jackson browne
One minute, I’m snoozing along on the bird loop.
The next, I’m in the middle of a bootleg relay race.
The combo of obin, benadryl and steroids is excellent for simulating the 25th mile of a marathon without all the annoying running and chafing to get there. Going out after another round of Orange Allbird Immunotherapy for a couple of miles is a fine distraction after my staycation at the infusion center.
I’m tired, in a bit of a fog, and my heart rate is way too high, the normal stuff. Still, I’m content to stroll in the post-sunset evening among a smattering of joggers and dog walkers on the loop.
A high school runner flies past me. And another. And then some more. What the what?
My semi-functioning brain tries to process. They look like serious x-c runners, but they’re not wearing school colors. Maybe they’re out for a training run, but they’re strung out and not at all in a pack. Besides, this pace is WAY too fast for that.
When I get to the back half of the course, I see the answer.
Runners are gathered in a small group, staging an intense but informal relay race. I have no idea what their loop is — it seems to vary — but they’re totally hammering. In the exchange area, they wait while exhorting teammates to conquer the blinding white light at the end of the sprint.
No baton — just a hand slap, a word of encouragement and the click of a switch that turns on the jets for the next lap.
They sail past me, the frantic blur of gazelles who haven’t yet learned the limitations that lie ahead in life. Three speeds — fast, faster and flames.
I watch their twilight competition with joy, thankful for the diversion.
A few laps later, the carnival departs.
The runners amble toward the back parking lot, basking in the miles, happy to have suffered.
So am I. The cooler air, the night sky, the heart and legs that agree this is a sign to keep going even if the brain is reluctant. It ends up being a fun 2 miles. With ice cream.
Maybe life is a relay race. As I mosey toward its eventual finish line, I am delighted a new generation is following the path we left them.
But I’m not giving up my baton yet.