By the time we arrived at the Geneva Middle School track, the sun was barely a hand’s width above the horizon as I took measure of the light. We’d have forty minutes or so to complete a workout of 10 X 400 meters.
I’d been in that circumstance many times before. As October progresses each year, the light seems to fall into the void of autumn. Many times over the years I’ve run with teammates and training partners in late afternoon and finished as the sun vanished behind the trees. The night comes on and the air cools quickly. It’s all evidence of how tenuous our earthly existence really is.
But while the light lasts and the afternoon wind ceases to blow, conditions are perfect for running. Even the light breeze on the homestretch felt good around us.
Both of us were wearing new running shoes. The feel of new treads on a black rubber track is profoundly joyful. We warmed up with a mile jog and she did her strides while I engaged in some stretching.
Her planned workout was to run at 8:30 pace or below. We finished the first 400 under 2:00, and she made note of it. “That’s a little fast.”
We did another, again at sub-2:00 pace. Then another. She wasn’t struggling. Instead she was thriving. I tossed out my plan to do the second set of five at my own pace because it was such fun running with her lap after lap.
By the time we hit eight 400s with only two to go, her confidence was high. We didn’t go nuts but kept to the pace she’d been hitting all along. I was more than happy to get in a clean and steady workout at my current racing pace for 10K and more.
The sun was completely set as we cooled down with a couple laps of jogging. A cool waft of corn-swept breeze came our way. We climbed into the car to pick up supper after the workout and she summed up the evening by saying, “Well, that was good.”
Indeed it was. Just my wife and I and ten four hundreds. Cannot think of a better way to spend an October evening.