Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Day At The Track

Recently a friend noticed that I've become out of shape. Speaking as only a good friend can, he suggested that I cut back on all of the sodas, cheese puffs, and Junior Mints, and replace them with water, exercise, and determination. (Thanks, Jeff!)

I've never been completely out of shape, even though my gut sometimes likes to race with my chest for the lead. It's hard to gauge whether my magnificent pecs or my six pack abs, covered with a protective barrier of  fat which I've been sporting since I was five, are in the lead, so whenever I wonder what's what I move closely to a wall or a door to see which one makes contact first. Let me tell you that doing that has raised more than a few eyebrows. If my tummy gets there first, it's time for crunches, and a trip to a nearby school track for some laps.

I love the track. Sometimes I think the only reason I've ever eaten Little Debbie snack cakes is so I'll have an excuse to exercise. The track close to my home is popular among folks in my age group, which makes me wonder what sales are like in aisle 7 at Kroger. More often than not, anywhere between five and ten of us are out there, trying our best to slim down and doing our best to avoid talking with one another. In fact, if one parks on the road adjacent to the track and watches people coming to walk, one can observe people sneaking furtive glances at others who have also just arrived. Each person watches to see who's going to climb out of their car first. Once that occurs, it becomes a matter of the next walker metering his or her entrance onto turn one. Apparently, the rule is to give the preceding walker a two minute head start, which equates roughly to half of a lap.

This becomes an interesting phenomenon as additional walkers arrive. That two minute deference decreases as more people pull up to the track. I've seen the time gap mentioned shrink to fifteen seconds. Each of us needs our space to unwind after a day filled with angry bosses, road rage, and picking the kids up after football practice. We don't want to engage in "how's the family? Are you happy with your insurance policy?" while meditating on those love handles which make looking good in a favorite shirt all but impossible.

Then there's the specter of being out of shape to one degree or another, and, as a result, self conscious about being lapped twice per lap by twenty-something year old Megan, who's in training for the "Run With The Cheetahs" marathon scheduled for next spring. I've heard more than one nervous bout of episodic throat-clearing as this sweet, petite lady makes us all look like Play-Doh every times she sweetly whispers "hey" while putting us all yet another lap down. How I long to tell her that I could run like that if only I hadn't broken two toes by dropping a solid door on my foot in 2008. I'm pretty sure I could have made the compelling case for plantar fasciitis limiting my foot mobility had I not seeing her applying stretching exercises to her own feet prior to running a distance equivalent to taking Interstate 40 West from Knoxville to Albuquerque.

I got in my mile and a half, for which I'm proud. Prior to getting off of my butt and increasing my activity level, exercise for me meant going to the fridge for pita crackers. Now it involves six laps at a nearby track, alongside several other people who share a midlife crisis bond and its inherent compulsion to recapture some of our youth. Megan effectively serves as a reminder of what it was like to be young, which encourages the rest of us to eat healthier diets -something which proves short-lived for many of us who have 7-11 in mind as a reward for taking care of ourselves.

I can't speak for the others, but quite by coincidence today is my "cheat day". While Fred rationalizes a Slurpee and a large bag of Doritos, I justify that the calories I spent on the track allow for a beef and bean burrito.

That's okay, though.

Tomorrow is another day at the track.

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