Fast Is the Family Business

My grandfather ran track. My father ran track. I ran track. My step-mother ran track. All three of my half-brothers ran track. I am pretty sure my daughter will run track, and maybe my half-sister who is her age will too. I’m sure my son will too.

I guess you could say fast is the family business.

I began running competitively in grade school. I loved the trips to the track with my father. He and my mom split up when I was 2 or 3, but in an odd arrangement my mom, step-dad and I lived next door to my father and his girlfriend (also a runner!) My father would take me out to the dirt track at the local community college and we would run together. One of the greatest gifts my father gave to me was a love of sprinting. I love running fast, it is a source of pure joy for me. Even to this day I cherish the nights when I dream about running fast. My happiest dreams are those when I am out on an empty track, at dusk. It’s a little cool, but you hit random warm patches on the track as you finish up your 100’s or 200’s. It’s quiet. All you hear is your labored breathing. You feel supple. Alive. Fast.

At the track we worked out on you could feel the fog begin to roll in even before you could see it. The smell of the ocean would tease your nose as the grey wave made its way to the track. If anyone else was out there they would begin to pack up their gear and head out, not knowing that the most magical time was when the blanket of fog came in. The quality of light and sound would change, the energy would shift. We would run, fine mist leaving tiny droplets on our hair. My father would tell me that was the best time to get a workout in, because of the positive ions in the air. I believed him.

I won ribbons on track and field day in elementary school. (Ironically, I teach PE at the same elementary school, maybe half a mile away from the storied dirt track I mention above.) I ran for the junior high school team. I ran in high school. I ran in college. I quit running. I dropped out of college. I went back to college. I ran again. I went to graduate school and studied how athletes can successfully transition of of competitive athletics and back into “the real world”. I coached track. I became a PE teacher. I dream of running fast again. I have grandiose ideas like “How about I write a memoir about being middle-aged and out of shape and coming back to train for the World Masters Track Championships? Doesn’t that sound great?” 

Honestly, I wonder if I haven’t done myself a disservice by never really severing that connection to track and sprinting and running fast. I’ve tried. I’ve talked to my therapist about it. “Isn’t it time I get over this? Shouldn’t I have let this go by now?” And yet I keep coming back to it. Running. I am always amazed by how good it makes me feel, when I do my version of sprinting and don’t pull a muscle. I feel good. Carefree. Fast.

It’s the family business.



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