2006.09.13 Round and round with Johnny

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

A lot of people are looking forward to the Neal Singles 5K run. I’m anticipating the day after the run.

When it’s all over, our exercise routine will become much less routine. A little more haphazard. Much more hit and miss.

For now, it’s almost daily training at the track and daily requests to accompany the runner-in-training.

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not running Sept. 24. I’m taking a photograph. Maybe I’m walking, but I’m not running the 3.1 miles. That’s my wife who’s doing the hard work.

A friend talked with me Saturday about running with me. He was looking forward to it. I told him I wasn’t running, but he insisted that I am. He said he read about it in the paper.

That’s a little unsettling to think that people mix up Colleen and me. But come to think about it, someone came in the office a few weeks back to talk about my ripped pants. That was a column that colleague Jeff wrote. Maybe it’s time to place our photos with the columns to  let everyone knows who’s who.

My wife and I just recently returned from a session at the high school track. She runs and I mostly walk. I have a knee that’s been bothering me.

Once we arrived at the track, she had sweatpants to remove, Maddie’s iPod to adjust, a nose to blow, probably some vegetables to chop, so I took off. I was half way around the track before she was ready to begin. I knew it would be that way.

Sometimes during those informal dinner nights when everyone is late and we’re all on our own, I’ll eat dinner—my entire dinner—while Colleen is still busy chopping.

Chop, chop, chop, chop. Usually it’s cilantro, an item I can happily do without. I’d never miss it. She chops, I eat. I walk, she putters. Then she runs.

After a couple of laps, she caught up and passed me in my brisk walk. After the first mile or so, I started running a little to close the gap. Two laps later, she was within reach so I ran down the track and caught up.

I ran back and forth in the lane, I jigged, I did a little of the Soupy Sales Shuffle, I skipped, I turned around and ran backwards. When I peered over my shoulder, she was gone. Enough of my foolishness. She left me behind and took off down the track with Johnny Cash. I was impressed.

Why Johnny Cash, you might wonder. I don’t know that she was ever a Johnny Cash fan. I think it’s because it’s there on Maddie’s iPod, because she gets a kick out of Johnny Cash’s entertaining lyrics, and probably because we recently watched the movie “Walk the Line” about Cash’s life.

There’s a lot of other stuff on the iPod that she couldn’t handle, but Johnny Cash is all right. He’s her constant companion on the track. And he doesn’t make fun of her.

She had Johnny; I was alone with the ground squirrel holes. They’re all around the track. Most of them are at the fence line, but a few squirrels have burrowed under the concrete pads that support the bleachers.

I can show you my favorite one. I like the angle that it takes and the bold positioning. With 11 laps around the track, you need something to keep you occupied other than the music in your head.

One night I huddled along the fence and she never saw me. A few laps later I lay down on the football field and the same thing happened. She and Johnny, so intent.

At one point I stopped to talk to Tim Kruse for a short time and I fell well behind. We still had three laps to go, but I decided to catch her, a little at a time. When I got really close she saw me and shot me a threatening look.

I held back, keeping my distance until the very end when I had to announce the time and hear her disappointment. She wants to do the Neal run in under 30 minutes and she’s off pace by six minutes with less than a fortnight remaining.

It’s great fun to jolly her about her running. (Jolly her? That’s something less than teasing.) But believe me, I’m impressed with her ability to, so far, run 10 laps around the track without stopping. That’s quite an accomplishment for a middle-aged Johnny Cash fan.

– Sept. 13, 2006 

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