When I re-meet people from home
They are surprised to know
That I teach and have run ten marathons.
The shock for them is too much to believe and
Nearly sends them into cardiac arrest
As they laugh with a lung busting gusto
At the thought of me,
The one who had no time for high school
And the one who barely survived
Three quarters of a cross country season,
Being found in a classroom
Or logging the miles to run
A few long races.
Few know the story
Of the four greatest laps in my running journey.
Surely modest by the standards of more accomplished LHS alums,
For it was only one mile, but
It would be the burying of a demon that haunted me
Due to a failure as a sophomore.
It would put in place an understanding that failing motivates
And it taught me that time is the ultimate measure of accountability;
Especially when sprints at the end of practice
Who dawdle on the track
Or failed to mentally prepare for Coach Farrior’s favorite trick,
Doling out lots of sprints to test
The heart of anyone who might want to play basketball
For the Lafayette Rams.
Two years previously,
I missed the cut time by one or two seconds.
Russel Bridgeforth said something like,
“One second? You didn’t want it.”
That hurt because he was right.
After the tryout,
I would never “not want it” again
Partly due to Russel’s leadership, but mostly
Because of how Coach Farrior kept calling for sprints,
Which in the early days of political correctness
Were really suicides.
After a card deck full of twenty-four second sprints
The jokers would quit and
The next day things could get basketball serious.
Somehow I survived,
Playing that season from the pine.
The following year was better,
But the mile still hurt.
No sprints, though!
As a senior,
I hated the demoralizing distances of Cross Country,
After all, baseball players don’t run,
But the shortened season served it’s purpose.
As we all stepped to the line
For the tryout mile,
I was sandwiched between
Carl Brown and Randy Dickerson.
We ran together
Passing all the early sprinters
Who gassed out early.
They brought their football toughness,
I brought something from my fall sports experience,
Pacing, determination? I don’t know…
The three of us kicked it around the last turn
Crossing the finish line
With nearly half a minute to spare.
It sure felt good…
I can only think of one mile that was close
To bringing the same satisfaction as
The one from senior year brings me.
It was a cold, rainy day in Jersey
And I was alone
As I fought to make a marathon goal in Ocean City,
Just me, the pelting rain, and the time.
I made my goal with about the same buffer
As the senior year gallop,
But it didn’t feel as good,
Solo experiences rarely do.
The mile on the Lafayette track
Was with teammates,
Which made our accomplishment all that much sweeter.
Be well fellas…