The Rhythm of the Morning Run

Postseason track brings with it races like this one from the region 5-5A championship meet

The Rhythm of the Morning Run

It's 5:30 a.m. - do you know where your running shoes are? There they are, lined up against the wall, each pair ready for you to call their name. It's early, you couldn't care less - all you know is your mind is a cesspool times twelve and on steroids and you simply HAVE to move.

It's something you read - if your mind's not working, work on the body. If the body's not working, work on the mind. It's the rabid squirrels of the mind that's the problem as you tear off the sheets, the lack of sleep due partly to the upcoming track postseason and all the questions:

How good are we? Is he healthy? Did we ever pick up the baton we dropped on the second hand-off at Westminster? Why are we in such a tough region?

Regardless, you grab two shoes, hoping to God they match, or at least there's a left one and a right. On this day, you get it right, so on they go and off you go, as there's a track at work near your office. It's obviously dark out due to the hour once you get there, and you can hear your footsteps slicing through the grass. The starting line is over there - right there - and you have a sense of dread as you approach.

Martin Luther King had it right when he said, "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." Ah, that first step, the beginning, the hardest thing ever whether it's running, writing, making the sales call or life in general. Breaking through the inertia. Movement after stillness. It's all momentum when you think about it - the idea is to get it going on YOUR side - physically and mentally.

Out of habit and years of training, you start, you move, and the first step as a 61-year-old is a tough one - picture a mannequin that the establishment forgot to oil. It's a roll call of body parts, each one creaking for attention, though eventually they relent - allow - let the show go on. 

It takes a lap or maybe two, but eventually the rhythm kicks in, albeit a slow one. The sweat starts to smooth the mattress marks on your face, the thoughts start to line themselves up - like water before going down a drain.

There are other lunatics like me out here - some Atlanta Track Club people meet up twice a week and you can hear their chatter and times and the like as they pass you ever so easily. Once a sore spot, now you smile at this, and it makes you remember why you run with a GPS instead of an App.

An App, after all, shouts out your pace. At least the GPS has the good sense to shut the hell up, lets you run in peace. And in rhythm.

Your body and mind are teaming up now as you near the end. The sun - almost on cue - starts to peak over Mt. Vernon and lights are coming on in our sacred hallways. You smile, not just because you're moving but because the chaotic order that is a high school hallway. Lockers slamming. Kids flirting. Book bags hoisted over those small shoulders.

You cross not the finish line, but a finish line - and as you turn off your watch you hope there's many more to follow assuming the years, the bones, and the muscles allow.

Still, you can't help but grin, as there is postseason track ahead - finding spike kits and hoping the buses are there and where's the tent and did we lose the med kit and what time do we have to get the kids out of school?

The answers are forthcoming - you hope - but all you know for now is, you've started your day off right, the hard part is over, and you are four miles better of a person because of it.

Dunn Neugebauer

Holder of lots of jobs

Author, coach, nice guy-

2019 GHSA Girls' XC State Champions

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