legs they come
And faces go
Just like old Toyotas
— the prophet lyle lovett
We haven’t even made it to the track when Mo calls it. “Floater.”
Floater is Mo’s term for gazelles, those runners whose feet never seem to touch the ground. And she’s right. The runner is in lane 1. Sports bra and short shorts. Screaming neon green flats.
She’s running 800 repeats at an insanely fast pace. 400 alone, and then the second 400 paced by a guy who is also a gazelle. She’s unrelenting. 800, ridiculously short break, 800, break. I’m guessing she’s been at it a while when we arrive. She continues through my entire 40 minutes or so. I’ve never seen her here before. Another in the long line of peeps who seem to be showing up here from parts unknown to escape the weather, I suppose.
I was bummed to see that the Dartmouth track team isn’t coming this year for spring break. Florida. Like there are any proper cactus in Florida. So I take solace in sharing the track with this person. I wonder what her story is. I bet it’s a fast one. Another national-class runner who I’ll read about after the world’s? “blah blah, who spent February training on the Scottsdale track in the proximity of an exceedingly slow elderly gentleman, set a new U.S. record today …” I hope she mentions me at the ESPYs.
The Sprint Guy shows up around the usual time. It’s a disaster. He says hello to me, apparently unaware that my rules require no conversation. He’s a nice guy, but once you say hello, then what’s next?
The answer comes as I come by a couple of laps later. “Nice weather,” he says. This is SO unacceptable. I nod in agreement, determined not to speak.
Today was a breakthrough of sorts. I ran hard yesterday, and up till now I’ve just walked on the following day. But I was able to get in a decent trot today. 13:10 average, which is by far my fastest day-after pushing day yet. Maybe I’m adjusting. Or maybe it was the intimidation of being on the track with someone so fast. Or the rage of a sprinter chatting me up. Whatever the case, it felt really, really good. It will be interesting to see if I’m back up to speed tomorrow. Here’s hoping.
Mo, ever the rebel, finds a seat in the bleachers for the last mile. There’s a closed sign, but she says the handicap ramp has none, so she considers it a loophole. I spend the last few laps working out a speech to keep her out of jail. I’m going to miss her.
As I finish up the daily 5K, the fast woman has changed to trainers and taken off on a long cooldown run on the dirt road by the track. The 100 Meter Guy is still setting up his camera stuff. He has an elaborate system, with a wheel and a tripod and a camera and a remote control and two bags worth of god knows what. What does a 30-year-old 100 meter guy do? Are there charity 100 meter runs on the weekend? How is he competing that requires such painstaking camera work and brutal training? What’s his story. I don’t know, because I can’t talk to him. Rules are rules. But damn, he’s fast. 100 meter guys from two lines away are breathtaking. Although chatty.
And then, as we walk off, the unthinkable happens. “Bye,” he says. This can mean only one thing. I can never come back to the track again. I have my limits. I say the only thing I can think of: “Bye.” This is why they call me a master of conversation.
We head for home. My legs are tired, but not TOO tired. I’ve gone two days in a row. I’m getting faster. I’m happy. I can’t wait for tomorrow.