Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Track

Last week I headed to the track for what was, more or less, just another workout. But I left remembering how awesome the track, and running, really is.

I had spent most of the summer doing my "threshold" running workouts at the Cross Country Park, mainly because there were organized races there every week which provided some welcome company/motivation. However, with those having ended and with my workouts becoming more speed oriented, it was imperative that I head to the track last week.

As I arrived, my emotions swelled. There is something simple, something real, about the long oval, maybe because it just doesnt lie. Times are what they are, and that is that. As my HS chem teacher used to say: brutal honesty.

This particular evening though there was an added level of authenticity. This week happened to be Fall Break for the Huntsville City Schools, so when I arrived at Huntsville High's track, there was only one other person there. As I was changing shoes and completing my warm up, I watched him clearly changing pace, which along with his running shorts and running shoes indicated to me that he was a runner, as opposed to the walkers/joggers who often operate in the same physical vicinity. (I suppose it seems like a good place to "work out.")

Soon enough, I was ready to begin and, after waiting for him to almost reach me, I took off for my first mile. First lap: 79s and feeling great. In the middle of my third lap, I came up from behind on my lone, nameless companion and said, simply, "Track!" hoping we would allow me to maintain my position in lane 1, as it appeared he was on his rest interval. He moved over, I passed, and that was that. A simple motion, but one which was very much appreciated.

After finishing up my first mile, I began my short jog out and back from the start/finish when my companion uttered, "Mile repeats?"

My response, "Yep."

And 10 seconds later, I was off to start #2. Through this simple exchange of words, though, there was an instant connection. An understanding of the task at hand and the physical and mental difficulties that go with it. I continued with my miles before moving to 400s, which, along with the cool, fall air, only brought forth more vivid imagery of high school puke sessions.

Finally, we coincidentally finished up at about the same time and naturally gravitated towards each other. We exchanged the usual small talk: he was in town for work and training for a half marathon; I was out getting the work done at the track, and then headed our separate ways.

I left invigorated, reminded once again how awesome our sport is. Although we did not know each other, or even work out together that evening, we had an immediate understanding and respect for each other. This bond really is one of the pillars of our sport. Whether you are run 13 minutes for a 5k or 31, if you are out doing the work, you have shared experiences with others that words fail miserably to describe. There is a level of respect that serious athletes have for other serious athletes regardless of ability level. Additionally, anyone can be successful if she simply puts in the work necessary, and she will be respected for it.

So get out to the track, suffer a bit, and look forward to the rewards!


alyssa said...


great post. makes me want to get out to the track (if i was into those sorts of things...)


Andrew said...


Anonymous said...

I really like this post. I think it's been my favorite thus far. That connection between athletes isn't discussed much in other training-record posts I find... It's a cool aspect of what it means to be an "athlete"... there are more than one of you out there who love what you love and can identify what you love. Very awesome thoughts here Andrew. Thanks for sharing them!