Like Forest, Forest Gump

One thing I haven't talked about in a long time is running. The Quiet Man could have been considered a blog about running earlier this year; I wrote about it in almost every post. Slowly but surely this blog has gained character, and it's weeded out a few of its original personality traits. One of those it lost was running. It's time to bring it back.

Even though I haven't written about running I've continued to do it. I've continued to experiment and challenge myself. I don't run on the sidewalks anymore. Since April or May I've run on the track at my old high school. The red of the asphalt has stained the soles of my shoes a deep burgundy, a mixture of the bright red surface and the dark blue of the rubber. It reminds me of my old Jetta. Since I was no longer able to run blocks I ran laps. Now, instead of laps, I run for time, running for a set amount of time. I start my watch when I begin and it beeps when my time is done.

Changes abound. Running has been good. I try to run five times a week, and I even run on the weekends to put my time in, something I never did before. There are weeks when I only run four times, and I don't let it get me down, though I do beat myself up a little.

It's been hot the last couple weeks. It hasn't been this warm in a long time. The past couple summers have been mild compared to those I remember when I was a kid, when the temperatures always climbed over 100 in July and August. To stay safe I often wait until the sun begins to set before I put on my shoes and head to the track. I run around seven in the evening anyway, when the air has cooled a little. There have been times when I've waited until eight or later, which leads to a restless night. But I love the heat, I love the humidity. After my run is over I walk around the track to cool down. My hair, shirt, and shorts are wet with sweat. Even my socks are soaked through. It feels like I've just climbed out of a pool, minus the overpowering stench of chlorine. My arms and legs gleam in the fading sunlight. I love the feeling of being slick and sweaty all over. It feels like accomplishment, like I've slain a dragon or cyclops.

I've gotten to know some interesting characters down at the track, too. There's the woman who runs on the very outside edge of the eighth lane, almost on the gravel. One of the newcomers is a guy who will sprint the straightaway's but walk the curves. He'll sprint, walk, sprint, walk, sprint, walk... For a couple weeks I competed with a group of elementary school kids for lane space. They were practicing for the Hershey Relays, or whatever it's called. In the spring I shared the track with the City High track teams. One dark evening, when it was drizzling, practice was about over. One of the coaches was working a kid hard. We were the only one's on the track, and they went in before I stopped. The track coaches left clip boards and workout sheets laying around. I always picked them up and read them over. Tonight I saw my first nonfiction professor. She ran past me while I walked, then turned out of the stadium and ran toward the school. She's the one I have to thank for my budding interest and love affair with nonfiction writing.

Soon I'll have to say goodbye to Bates Field and the Raffensburger Track, and to my eclectic group of fellow runners. I'll be running on the beach in almost a month. Of course, if there's an open track nearby I'll probably continue my routine there, too. It'll be the same thing, but only two thousand miles away. I'm in need of a change of scenery.


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