I drop my backpack and track bag by the concession stand. It’s 3:03 pm. The brisk wind chafes my skin as I slip my hands into my ski mittens. The bulky mittens paired with my performance T made for an odd look, but hey, they keep my hands warmer than Jonnie Voyta’s “Tom Brady 6 hoodie” when it comes to cold runs like these.
Why is Jonnie only a Patriots fan when the playoffs start? I know the Redskins are bad, but pick a lane, man.
I’m just about ready to warm up as senior John Riker and our indoor coach Chris Boyd enter the track. Coach Boyd is wearing the same black running tights and red, white and blue windbreaker that he wears everyday.
How many days in a row is this now? Does he own multiple pairs of these tights or does he wash them everyday? I just hope they’re clean.
We dap each other up, and get started with our warm up. After we finish drills, we’re all set to head out on today’s road run. John and I head toward the gate and set our watches to go, when Boyd stops us.
“Hold up a sec,” he says, unzipping the windbreaker, to my surprise.
“I’m coming with you guys today.”
We started our six miles at a cool 7:00 pace.
Alright, this is good. I like this pace.
“Alright, so, where we going to college? You guys decided yet?” Boyd asks us enthusiastically.
To his disappointment, we each say that neither of us have decided yet, and the short-lived conversation stalls from there.
John begins to say something, but the wind picks up, so I’m unable to hear him.
“What?” I ask, turning my head to hear better.
John repeats what he says, but I still can’t hear.
Jeez, this wind is no joke. Luckily, I got my ‘thickies’ on, so my hands won’t get cold.
“What?” I ask again.
Alright, if I don’t hear him this time, I’m gonna have to go to ol’ reliable.
John repeats himself again, to no avail, so to spare each of us of this back and forth, I simply respond, “Haha, yeah,” hoping that’ll settle things. He seems content with my response, so we continue pressing forward, probably around a 6:45 pace by now.
Phew, he could’ve just told me his grandmother died for all I know. Good thing it wasn’t anything bad.
We then get to talking about the season, what John and I hope to accomplish this spring, and Boyd tells us stories about his time as a runner here. Boyd graduated in 2007, and ran competitively for Bucknell University. He even has a picture on the athletic hall of fame wall near the gym.
“It was my senior year, and I was going for the mile school record, which was 4:26 at the time. I had Coach Redmond and my girlfriend were calling out my splits, and I ended up getting like 4:25, and I was so amped, but then the coach running the meet DQ’d me because he said my girlfriend was ‘pacing’ me,” Boyd explained to us.
Oof, he got screwed over on such a special achievement? For something so trivial? That’s messed up. Did he ever get the chance to break it again? Does he have to live the rest of his life knowing he’d have the record if he di-
“I mean, I broke the record again the next week, but still,” he said.
At this point, I check my watch again and notice we’re going around 6:30 pace.
Wooooo, this feels like nothing! I’m feeling good today.
We continue to hang around 6:30 pace, comparing school life of when Boyd was in high school to now.
“Man, we hated Churchill back then. We used to run to their track and talk smack as we ran around it and mess with their workouts, and they’d do the same to us sometimes. I don’t know if it’s as big a rivalry now, but that was definitely a fun part back then,” Boyd told us.
Eh, their team isn’t really relevant enough these days to make it a true rivalry.
We’re now on our way back to school.
I hope there’s a stoplight coming up, I could use a quick breather. I’m starting to feel it now.
I try to concentrate on my breathing, and stabilize my form, which alleviate some of the discomfort. A crosswalk comes into view, and the “don’t cross” symbol is up.
We slow to a stop in front of the crosswalk, but right as we stop, the “cross” symbol flipped on. I let out a deep sigh.
Son of a-…
We get back rolling again.
We hit the final stretch of the run, going a whole half mile downhill, right in the middle of the “runner’s high.” We could go sub-6:00 pace with ease if we wanted. There’s nothing like it. We finish around 6:20 pace, get in a quick stretch and head home, another quality run in the books.
I walk into newspaper the next day.
“Hey Danny,” I say, as I see Danny Rothenberg sitting at his computer.
“Joe,” Danny says, staring at me with intensity. After staring at me for three seconds, making sure he has my attention, his face quickly turns into a grin. “Joe, my man, you wanna switch columns this week?”