A Man Finds His Home Track

A baby sits on the track and watches his mom run in circles. To the infant it’s nothing more than splotches of color, the reds and greens, the lights and darks, the shadows growing longer as the sun sets.
track in sunglasses
As a three year old, this child now plays in the long jump pit while his mom runs in circles. This time though he is more concentrated on the shovel in hand and the sandcastle he’s building in the ‘sandbox.’

As a nine year old this boy waits eagerly for his mom to finish up running those fast circles, the part she calls her ‘hard running.’ He watches her cross the line of her last interval, her slender form bends forward for just a moment before she again stands upright. He rushes towards her, she looks to him and smiles, “Ready?” He merely nods the approval and then they both take off running a few circles together.

Now a twelve year old, this boy has his first pair of ‘real’ running shoes. He’s even been able to run a whole mile…which seems like an epic distance in his mind. He now looks to the track not just as a blur or reds set to green, but with dreams and goals stamped between those lanes. He likes to look at the big number ONE in lane one; he likes to think that number is meant for him alone.

At fourteen he’s learned that this running in circles is hard business. There is much more to it than merely wanting to win, and to carry out those ‘secret messages’ calling to him from lane one he’s got to be willing to run even when he maybe doesn’t feel like it all the time.

By seventeen he’s had tastes of success, they’ve made him only hungrier for more. The victories are sweet, the PR’s even more-so but his eyes are focused ahead on what lane one has in store for him.

At twenty this man has moved through the usual levels of running; college has treated him well. He’s not the fastest on the team, but he’s not the slowest either. He is unsure of what the future has in store for him, but with running he is sure. The tracks are always the same regardless of where he is, what he is, and whatever ‘life’ has him doing. Track and running are nice constants.
runner
By thirty this man has been world traveled; though he’s always had his running shoes packed as carry-on. Yet his favorite place to run is the very same track he used to sit and watch his mom run circles around; his home track. When he can he goes there and can still watch his mom run circles, though now at a slower pace. He joins her and does his own ‘hard running’ but they always convene for a few circles together at the end.

Now forty-three this man runs circles around a track; there is the beginning of a paunch on his stomach. When that actually appeared is still a bit lost on him, it seemed like it wasn’t there last year; though he knows this is in ‘runner’ comparison and he still gets called string bean by his work friends. He pants his way through the last interval, crosses the line, bends forward slightly for just a moment, rises and casts a glance at his baby girl sitting on the track.

He is now 80. He runs in circles around this home track of his; he doesn’t run with a watch on, he doesn’t care about the time, just the action. He is drifting far into the outer lanes, it seems over the years he’s felt more comfortable in lanes five through eight, he reserves lane one for the faster runners. The young bucks with dreams in their eyes and heck bent fury in their legs; he likes to watch them and remember what it feels like to be chasing. But he’s the only one at the track tonight. He closes his eyes and then he’s not alone; his mom is running circles around the track, his daughter is zealously chasing after him with shovel in hand, and they are all home.

1) Do any of your parents run, or anyone else in your family?

2) How old were you when you were able to run a full mile without stopping, and did you think it was a distance of epic length?
I was probably in Junior High before I could cover a full mile, and I honestly thought that if a person ran a WHOLE mile a few times a week they could win the Olympics. :P

3) Today’s Olympic Trials related fodder…so it sounds like the tie-breaker for third place in the 100 meters is coming down to a coin toss. What say you, and how would you be feeling if your Olympic Team dreams were dependent on the flip of a coin?
Seriously, a coin toss? In my mind this seems pretty wonky, one of the things I really love about running is that usually you can’t ‘luck’ your way into something like a win, a PR or the Olympics…but dang if you were waiting for a heads or tails in that position you better HOPE you’d have luck!

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16 Responses to A Man Finds His Home Track

  1. Dennis

    I was 12 when I ran my first mile and I too thought the Olympics could be so easy. Now at 50, I watch my 13 year old daughter staring reality right in the eye. At 7 she ran her first 5k, 10k, and yes one mile, in state record times. At 12 she was second in the nation in the 3000 for her age group. The Olympics a stated goal since 7. Then came the mono. Not once but twice. No running for 6 months. Now the games, once a certainty, now a long shot. The doubts, the anger, the long road back. To the rescue comes a little sister. She was born with a heart condition and never supposed to run. Having her make it to adulthood was my goal but not hers. Lil sis was cleared to run at 8. Won her first race and began her own quest because she watched big sis and dad run those circles. Mom started last year and has become quite the runner. Big brother, inspired by the rest came back to the sport at 22. We are a running family. Living to run, running to live. Cait, your blog is something special girl. You see, you get it. You’ve been high and you’ve been low. You write what we feel and that’s why we read daily. THANKS!!!! And as for that coin toss. What about a run off? I don’t understand why not.

    • u always leave the kind of comments that make my day! thanks Dennis and i’m glad my fodder is something your whole AWESOME running family can look forward to. :) all the best to u guys and keep on running happy and chases those goals. :)

  2. What a cute post – I love this :) I actually didn’t know anyone who ran, seriously or otherwise, as I was growing up. My family isn’t the most athletic out there and I wasn’t the most athletic child, so most of my friends were similar and into non-sporty things. If I ever have children of my own, I would love to be able to share physical activity with them though.

    As for a full mile? I think I was probably close to adulthood!

    • hehe…glad u liked this one! hey, no matter when that first mile comes, wat matters is wat u do with it after. ;) #stayaddictedtorunning lol

  3. I love this post, although I’m not from a running or sports related family (but my husband and I have together made a sporty family). As for a full mile, I think that was sometime in high school for one of those mile tests, and I probably didn’t do very well, lol.

    I know a lot of families whose kids are in track and field who started out just like this too- parents took them to the track and they just walked and ran a little, got into it, eventually started doing USATF and will probably run in middle and high school. Amazing the influence parents have when kids see them running!

    • i think it’s very cute watching those little kiddies having fun out there at the track…but it’s funny because growing up i thought my mom and dad were CRAZY for wanting to run and it wasn’t really until late jr. high that i actually got addicted fell in love with it myself. :)

  4. Meg

    This is a great piece, Cait! I love running-based fiction and I wish I could find more to read.

    One of my uncles was an avid runner. He ran cross country in high school and then kept competing on a local level for years. When I was little, I would watch him finish up his long runs and then I’d stretch with him. One of my favorite pictures is of us, when I was four or five-years-old, doing “legs on the wall” together. I remember running a 5K when I was about 8 or 9, both he and my other uncle ran with me – telling me how to breathe and to keep going. Now that I think about it, I can’t believe I ran a 5K that young!

    My mom also ran cross country in high school and she encouraged me to try the sport my freshman year as a way to stay in shape for soccer tryouts and to meet new people. During high school, I never clicked with cross country – I stayed on the team because the majority of my friends ran, but I mostly used it as a way to gear up for track, which I loved.

    Having an active family certainly helped me pick up running and, eventually, come back to it after a way-too-long hiatus.

    Oh, and about the trials, I CAN’T BELIEVE THERE WILL BE A TIEBREAKER. I actually agree 100% with the sprinters’ coaches that no decision should be made until after the 200m finals. Since the girls are training partners, I imagine they will be able to develop a better decision once they know if one (or both) of them are going to the Olympics in the 200m. One of the most striking things about this is that during the prelims on Friday, Allyson Felix made such a point that she things the 100m is intricately laced with how well she will preform in the 200m, but that that race will be her focus in London. I think she even said, “It’s all about the 200m.”

    • thanks!! that is so awesome that u have the memories of ur uncles keeping u going for that 5k! i am thankful i’ve got the active family too, it’s helpful growing up thinking of fitness and being active as the ‘norm’.

      oh man, the trials tie thing is crazy! i think it puts both the athletes in an awkward spot too… :P

  5. holy cow. i must be emotional today. reading this brought tears to my eyes:)

    my dad used to run and he always made me run with him. i hated every second. now me, my bro and my sis all run…and my parents have stopped being active. i keep hoping that our activity will motivate them to return to the fitness they used to work so hard to instill in us! i want them to be healthy and around for a long time:)

    we had to run the mile in elementary school. 2 times around the school was a mile. i wanted to call in sick every single time;)

    • awww, u are so cute, and i think u and ur daddy-o are just adorable!! haha…even tho u totally hated it at the time, now on the other side of the fence u can laugh at the ‘little’ julia. :)

      dang, a mile in elementary school, my hat is off to u…i think they had us run a loop around the playground and i thought it was epic!

  6. I loved this!
    I am the only one that ran in my family but now that I am married and have kids of my own all 3 of my kids love running and all but my 3 year old can run over a mile. And he is actually almost there. It is something we all enjoy doing together and I look forward to many more miles logged together as a family.

  7. What a beautiful post!

    My dad ran marathons when I was little, and then completely ruined his body as a decathlete. Now he lives his running life through me!

    I didn’t try to run a mile until a couple of years ago – now I’m hooked.

    • oh no, i’m so sorry to hear about ur dad…i cringe to think wat i may be looking like in a few decades!! tho, i’m happy u can vicariously give ur dad his running fix! :)

  8. Amy

    Cait, this was such a beautiful vignette. There were tears in my eyes when I finished.
    I was the first runner in my family, and I hope one day that I can pass it on to my (someday in distant future) children. What a gift to be able to pass on.

    • awww, thanks sweetie!! yea, u are the running trail blazer in ur family…and u keep getting more of ‘em hooked…the virus is spreading, keep it up! ;)

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