It's 0530 hrs. The sun hasn't even considered peaking over the horizon on this January morning in Vermont. The shoes are laced on, snugged, and re-laced. The stretching is over and the push-ups and sit-ups were knocked out through the blurred vision of the early riser.
The door to the kitchen opens as he leaves the house. The skin-tight lycra has been pulled over a pair of long thermal underwear this morning and as he passes by the garage thermometer the -10 degree temperature has him questioning his attire. Is this enough? No matter though. He starts into a gentle paced run that will take him through the winding back roads where the moonlight is still glistening on the sparkling snow in the meadows on each side of him. His crocheted hat is pulled over his ears and his cotton mittens keep his fingers cozy.
The crunching under his feet, and the squeaking of the snow in the treads of his New Balance footwear is the only sound on this back road of Orwell, Vermont. Upon each exhale his visible breath comes back and freezes on his hooded sweatshirt. The pace relaxes into about eight minutes per mile. Why push it? It's Sunday, the day of rest. Mile two is behind him and he hits the hills , ascending them like they weren't even there. He begins to transform. The metemorphosis from human to runner takes ahold of him. This is the point where the mind forgets the body's limitations and just goes into a deep thought. Thoughts of that island they called Okinawa find their way into his mind.
Wow, I can't believe I was there for three years. I've only been back for a month and yet the person that used to run along the beaches of that Japanese Island seems to be somebody else. How can I have his memories? It's so cold here and so hot there. Why did my mind take me to that island twelve thousand miles away? No matter. Mile five is coming up and more hills.
Miles eight is now behind me. What happened? Where did mile five go? I don't remember the past 3 miles. I only know that I'm here. Oh no, it's the big hills. Why did I choose this route today? Whew. I wipe the sweat from my forehead; that part not covered by the hat. Half way into my ascent I feel the burning in my lungs. Not a bad burning, but a good burning. I reach the top. My heart is pounding, but then eases as my pace relaxes into mile nine. Three miles to go. It's light out now. It's that time when the birds start flying around gathering frozen Birch buds. The sun is peaking over the horizon and I'm startled as a partridge takes flight only fifteen feet from me. A car is coming up from behind me. Do I know them? I must, for a window is rolling down. There is a lady driving, and a voice is directed toward me.
"You are amazing!" The window goes back up and she drives on ahead. I find myself smiling. Is that why my pace quickens? I don't know. I glance at my stopwatch. I do the math. I'm at the ten mile mark in one hour and fifteen minutes. A seven minute and thirty second per mile pace, and on the snowy roads. The car is gone but the words are still there. You are amazing. The words continue to echo.
Mile eleven is here. Wow, only one more to go. I relax. My pace is quickening and I can't stop it. I'm Bill Rogers today. I can't lose. I'm Frank Shorter finishing the Olympic Marathon in 1972. I'm Derek Clayton setting the world record in 1969. I see the driveway and the pace quickens. My six foot and two inch body has become as light as the wind that passes through my wings. I'm soaring now as I glide past the driveway clicking the stopwatch. I slow to a jog and then to a walk. I walk for five minutes in one direction and then five minutes back.
I'm none of those guys, I think to myself. I'm just me. It's almost time for breakfast. My mom, God rest her soul; I can smell her pancakes and taste the Maple Syrup. I'm not famous. I'm not popular, and I'm not rich. But I'm satisfied, and I'm happy. And that's the way it should be, in the long run.