Rununion, part 3

The big laugh Sunday morning came from the realization that if guys our age had  returned to the the house we visited yesterday when we were living there, they would have been members of the class of 1921. Which to us was so far in the past as to be mythical, hypothetical, and comical.

But today was running day, so onward.

We’re all more or less battered. One of us broke a bone in his neck recently, taking a header over his trail bike’s handlebars on a rough Vermont trail. (Need I say this is the same guy who was tossed off the team 50 years ago for playing intramural hockey?) Having escaped quadriplegia by a hair’s breadth, he’s already out of his neck brace and off his crutches, but not exactly in the pink. We’ve got replacement hips and bad knees and painful feet and weird muscle pulls. Naming no names, I’ll also say that one of us is grossly overweight.

Today, though, we creakily pulled on our running togs and headed for a particular spot near what we used to call “the Sunbowl,” where we ran fartlek workouts on a rolling portion of the golf course. Wonderfully, we were joined by H, who had driven over from Concord with B to do her own scheduled workout and meet people she knew only from old stories.

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Heading down to the river.

Our little pod took a slow spin north along one the most beautiful trails most of us have ever run. Old pines towering overhead, soft, needle-cushioned trail beneath, the gentle Connecticut River easing by to our left. After a while, we turned and headed back. In this direction, the trail was part of our competitive course, and leads inexorably to the first half of  Freshman Hill, a long, increasingly steep 200 yards or so, infamous among generations of runners. At the top, you make a tight 180 degree left-handed switchback, steep enough to tap down with your inside hand, and do it all over again (at least you did in our day—they don’t race this part anymore, the wimps), this time on firm grass and, if anything even steeper. Famously killer at speed, and sobering anytime.

We chatted back along the flat and came to a gradual stop at the foot of the hill. Mumblings. Pacings about. Eyeings of what struck us all as near verticality. Mutterings. Excuses (perfectly good ones). And then somehow we were all toiling slowly upward. We gathered again at the switchback, proud of ourselves, breathing hard and trying to ignore complaints from various body parts. More mutterings. Then gradually off, around the turn and slowly, slowly up to the great view on top before catching our breath and eventually sagging our way back down. (B  caught me here and wanted to race me back to the “tippy top.” She won.)

Did we all feel mighty fine? Of course we did. Totally beat, but mighty fine: beautiful setting, old friends, carefully filtered memories, and a sense of accomplishment. So we headed off to the fieldhouse for a reminder of indoor track.

That bit’s for the next post.

 

 



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