Monday, June 7, 2010

Middle Stagers

As I run my mandatory two miles tonight, I look around at all of the other people moving about the school field. I see a couple walking, engaged in a lively discussion, and a group of ladies briskly strolling, each swinging a  key chain in one hand and a water bottle in the other. There are some high schoolers flicking a Frisbee across one side of the football field, while a smaller group are tossing a football to each other, reenacting the touchdown from a big game. There are two young sisters pretending they are long jumpers, scampering down the long jump track and launching themselves into the sand. A group of middle school girls run in a pack, like a squadron in perfect formation, each taking a turn at the helm. There are even some elderly folks, slow and steady, giving notice to their bodies that there is still work to be done and they are not going to waist time in an easy chair. 

The rest are guys kind of like me, in the middle, stuck between the young and the old. I call our kind the "Middle Stage Runner". It is easy to pick us out, we run with a meaningful agenda, appear to still look somewhat athletic, and not have to make any emergency room visits later that evening. There is a wide range of styles that we draw upon, from gray sweatpants and cut off vacation t-shirts, to color coordinated warm-ups. Some have headphones on, some are checking their email, and even some finishing up last minute business via phone.  We are all men, therefore competitive till the end, especially when someone passes us. We just cannot let a "middle stager" just come along side us, speed up and pass? Its like driving, no mater what, the weather, kids in car, a mattress tied to the roof, if a car passes us, we must, without question, speed up to gain ground. The other day I saw two guys pass each other so many times on the track it looked like a dance routine. I think they almost came to blows, but too out of breath to take it any further.

The sun is going down and I am close to my goal, headphones in ears, music carefully coordinated to my running pace. The pack of girls fan out around me, whisk by, and quickly close ranks without skipping a beat. The couple ended their discussion, now walking separately. The two young girls have settled into sitting in the sand building a castle, and the ladies have retired to their cars. The high schoolers joined forces into a game of Frisbee football, and the elderly folks are rethinking that easy chair. Mostly remains The Middle Stagers, still giving it their competitive all, dreaming of the glory days...


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