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April 11, 2005

I set off in search of my forebears, 'cause my forbearance was in need

I may never again hear "Ballad of the Sin Eater" (by my man Ted Leo) without remembering running on my old high school's quarter-mile track in glorious early morning spring sunlight. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One of the things that helped me stay sane while I was down in Louisiana was exercising; it was such a nice, normal link to my real life back home in Brooklyn. On Wednesday of last week I went to a gym in Gonzales and worked out, because the weather was crappy. On Thursday and Friday, though, I went to the track at East Ascension High School, where I went for the three years before I graduated early.

I was an unwilling athlete in high school, because PE was taught so horribly that it just always made me feel klutzy and awful. I don't actually have particular horror stories about high school gym, but I do remember it with vaguely queasy feelings. Certainly nothing about it felt comforting or calming whatsoever.

Last week, though, that track was my respite. Thursday wasn't really the best run. It was my first outdoor run on a track since I've gotten serious about this (I tried once last year when I'd just gotten started, and ended up mostly walking). A track is not just a very long treadmill! For one thing, it doesn't have a speed control! For another, there is wind! I walked a quarter-mile to warm up, then went out too fast for my first quarter-mile of running, and really just shot my wad—I felt like crap. I ended up having to alternate running and walking laps. So I got in a fair amount of exercise, but it didn't really feel very good at all.

Friday, I went back and it was so incredibly wonderful. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I was on the track by a little before 8am. The temp was just below 60F, and there were only a couple of other folks out. I walked a lap to warm up, and then started running at an appropriate pace; I then ran my first complete track mile. After a one-lap break, I followed up with my second track mile.

As I finished the mile, halfway through the fourth lap, the devil got in me and I decided to sprint. I know objectively that my sprint is simply not the fastest thing going; I'd be surprised if it averaged out to a six-minute mile. But DAMN! How fun is it to go twice as fast as normal? Pretty fucking fun. That last eighth-mile was a blur of blue sky and green trees and green grass and black track and my earbuds flew out and my legs were flying and my arms were pumping and the air was still so sweet and the sun so brilliant as I came around the last bend. Of course, when I slowed up to walk it all off I thought for a moment I might puke. But I didn't.

I walked another lap and my mind wandered among several strands of thought—chief among them the absolute shining wonder of my not only coming willingly to my high school athletic field, but doing so to find solace and emotional strength.

Posted by Rose at April 11, 2005 05:20 PM