The weather was overcast and the air felt like rain at any moment. Still, the sprinters were in the middle of their practice at the University at Buffalo Stadium track, hoping to finish up before a storm blew through the area.
Jamiee McClary took her spikes off before the interview, taking a break before her final 4×100 run of the day. The freshman sprinter for the Bulls has already set five school records this year and she answered questions with a huge smile on her face. She returned to the track to finish up her workout, still with the smile, still with the energy.
The smiles and energy from that track practice were in my mind as I headed out on my own track practice. For the first two years of my triathlon and running training, track workouts were never part of my regimen. Now, once a week, I’m running intervals either on the road or on a track. It’s my speed work and the goal of it is to help me eventually run faster overall in longer distances.
Tuesday’s track workout with Sue ended up taking place on a cul-de-sac in the village of Orchard Park since a lacrosse game rendered use of the outdoor track impossible. Thunderstorms had passed through the region earlier, the sun was out and the humidity was at 93 percent. A great time to run eight 500-meter repeats.
My first two were on the slow side of my range of target times with the second one actually two seconds slower than was prescribed. But it was early and I needed room to grow into the rest of my intervals. So the profanity was only momentary.
Then came No. 3.
And by the halfway point, my core was on fire and my gastrointestinal system was ready to regurgitate the Clif Bar I consumed about 90 minutes before the workout.
But I made my time.
My clothes were soaked in a mixture of sweat and air moisture and my sunglasses fogged over during each rest interval.
Each time, at around 250 meters, I felt like I might throw up.
Each time, I rounded out of the cul-de-sac and picked it up at the straightaway back to where Sue was standing.
Each time, I made the interval.
And not once did I throw up.
These are the workouts where I push past the puke factor. Where I realize that indeed I can handle more than I think I can. At No. 5 I wondered if I would need to walk an interval. Walk an interval? Are you serious? I don’t need to do that. In fact, each time I thought I was running in slow motion, I easily made my interval time.
So even when I’m sucking wind and feeling like I want to throw up and trying to make peace with what seems like imminent failure — I actually succeed.
There’s some deep metaphorical life lesson in there. One that I can’t quite articulate just yet. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the energy and the smiles and reveal in the fact that my intervals are done and complete for another week.