Cold made its way into the morning. Finally. Two of us took to the roads in the dark. We talked training. We talked guy stuff. We shared our preferences for angrier music, the happy pop not fitting our slightly deranged view of the world. I found it comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one who still appreciated the Sex Pistols, although, my expertise paled in comparison to my running partner’s punk rock acumen. He did show his age, a few years ahead of my own, when he offered to let me borrow his copy of “Spunk.”

With that run done and the sun rising, we headed to the fields for a cross country-styled 5K organized by another friend and populated by a bunch of people we all mostly know. My plan was to chill, take it easy on the course, and simply enjoy the time. Like Goggins in Las Vegas and with “Anarchy” blaring on a loop in my head, I took off with a goal to catch the Mennonite woman running up ahead in their bonnets and dresses. Ego is a strange thing and mine was hooked to an adrenaline pump as I pushed harder than I have in many years. We caught the nattily clad runners and for the rest of the way, I ran scared of being passed from behind.

The community theme of the race was exhibited at the finish line. No egos, no trash talking, only the support for each runner as they finished. Times didn’t really matter. Places, either. Hanging with all my friends at the finish lines was awesome. The sun was out, the warmth everywhere, the angry music out of my head.

Thanks, y’all.

Seen in their natural habitats, animals exhibit their truest behaviors. They forget the responsibility for insuring the success of the herd and look only to protect themselves. Think of the teacher with closets full of supplies while the rest turn to funding sites to beg in a socially acceptable way for markers, erasers, paper, or scissors. Think of the teachers who see the classroom as their personal domain, as if it is an extension of their homes, so much so that they are put out when a transient is assigned to their classroom for a period or two.

Maybe it would be good if some kind of animal whisperer came into contact with these egocentrically inclined professionals. The trainer could show them the good of building strong relationships with other members of the pack. Their enlightened ways might help them share some of their resources or maybe even knock stressfulness down a level or two. Of course, the truest habits of an animal comes out in the most natural environments.

Old dogs, new tricks?

The mornings have lost the summer’s early rays. We ran through the humidity joking that the Suck Level was in full effect. Some in our group were out for the long haul, some going easy to protect against recurring injuries, and I was confused after a night of light sleep. Instead of sticking with the crew, I turned and headed off alone. The normal chatter that rages in my head must have stayed in bed because all I heard was the rhythm of my breathing, the softness of my feet hitting the ground, and the occasional walnut falling in the woods. The air was cool at the bottom of hills, a welcome relief from the humid mushroom soil infused air at the top of the hills.

I cruised letting gravity and friction cooperate to get me around the way. Every run should be so peaceful. Every day should have such a start.

They do.

The people make teaching fun:

Me: What was your dad’s name again?

James: Uh, James McDevitt. James McDevitt.

Me: Did he go to school here? A long time ago, I taught a James McDevitt.

James: Uh, no. He’s from Maryland. That was his cousin that went here.

Me: What was his cousin’s name?

James: Uh, James McDevitt.

Cody: Is everybody in your family named James?

James: Uh, only on the McDevitt side. Ever since the Civil War James has been a family name.

Me: So that makes you James the tenthish?

James: Uh, no, my grandfather’s name is Earl. He wasn’t named James because his brother was James. But he named my dad James. That makes him James McDevitt, Sr.

Me: The first…

James: Uh, yeah, so I’m James McDevitt, Jr. The second.

Me: Will you name your kid James?

James: Uh, if it’s a boy.

Me: If it’s a girl will you go with Jamie?

James: Beatrice.

Priceless. School is about people…