The track is flat, but it's hot. The end of a Georgia August is not quite as muggy as a Mississippi August, but muggy enough. Thursday I ran two miles with the cross-country team, but I stopped after 3/4 of a mile to clock the runners' laps, so I had a break. That's when you start to sweat, when you stop. Drops cam eoff my forehead and dripped onto the clipboard, smearing the marks I made to keep track of the laps they ran. The pen quit in the influx of sweat, but I made indentations in the paper and pretended I was still writing. They jogged past me, announcing their laps. "McKoon, 9...Lewis, 9...Terrell, 7...Morgan, 6." The girls rarely say their numbers, although Cunningham will hold up her fingers as she goes past, the lead female, who never puts her long hair up in a ponytail. I don't know how she runs that way.
Coach came back from unlocking the girls' dressing room and took the clipboard from me, so I join the team again. I ran the last five, only walking a little, but only keeping moving because I don't want to wimp out in front of the team. Runners' pride is powerful.
So today, I only intended to run two miles, but the sun went behind a cloud, a breeze came up, and I felt like I had a little more in me, so I did the whole three, and it was easier than before. I wore the dri-fit top I bought at Goodwill, and it made a difference. The football team was practicing on the field, too, and an audience generally makes you run better. I noticed things about the runers as I put my miles in . Coaxum has an odd and long stride. Brand walks a lot and says his calves hurt. DeRaney didn't bring water. Hodge rides Coach's bike because she hurt her foot, and she bought her pink running shoes at Kids Footlocker. Redovich and Terrell tend to run at the same pace as I; both are scrupulously honest. They never lie about their laps and they seldom stop to walk. Terrell is a wrestler. I always mean to watch him while we stretch because wrestlers are the most flexible people on earth, but I forget. Redovich told me she comes from a family of runners. She runs evenly and seriously, alone, with a resolute face, and she never talks much. I had to ask her before she told me about her family.
So today, Cunningham warmed up to me and asked me if I ran three. When I told her yes, she congratulated me. It was nice. Then we stretched, me focusing on hip openers, the same ones I did at 4:30 this morning, incorporating pigeon pose, followed by butterfly, an adaptation of happy baby, and ending by cradling our calves in arms, with foot in crook of elbow and knee in the other elbox, trying to hook legs behind and over shoulders, but I was too slippery with sweat. Maybe one day. That hook is the start of the five-point star, a yoga pose I aspire to like scorpion, but it'll be years, maybe never. Coaxum is almost there, but she releases her leg immediately when everybody looks. I meant to look at Terrell again to see if he could hook his leg behind his shoulder. Dang it!
But what I feel such gratitude for is, these kids are a great influence on me. I haven't run three miles in several years. I thought I couldn't any more because of my knee. But--hello, running! I've missed you! It's so good to be dripping with sweat on a track in the summer heat.