Yesterday, I took the day off of work to head down to the first ever Trinity University Track & Field Alumni Classic.
It was even more fun than I'd hoped. Former teammates reunited and joked about old shenanigans -- Beale Street in Memphis, raising goldfish in the steeplechase pit (one of them got monstrously big), breaking a dorm room window with a Rice Krispie treat.
I think about that track team every day. When I first graduated, people told me I would move onto other things and wouldn't miss it as much. Turns out, they're wrong. I have moved onto other things in my life, but every time I go to work out, I think about group stretches at the beginning of practice. Every time I'm done I think about ice baths at the end. And every time I'm outside on a clear day I think about running in circles with those guys, again and again and again and again.
At the same time, whenever I think about a group experience in retrospect, my mind inevitably turns to regretting the stupid things I inevitably did and said. I wind up focusing on those and not the good times. It's ho wmy brain works, and it's created an odd relationship to working out for me.
Yesterday's meet was so excellent, because I think, just maybe, that my own silliness from back then maybe didn't matter as much to other people as I'd worried. And maybe they feel the same way about our shared experiences as I do.
It's not just the time spent together, or what we accomplished. (As it happens, I wasn't awful -- I set a school record in the 400m hurdles at 67.55s that lasted for two weeks -- and some other team members have gone onto huge achievements. One guy caught a pass in the last Superbowl, another is a world-class competitor in the pentathlon.) When you spent that much time together, making your body do more than what it's designed for; getting to know each other's physical and social foibles, tics, habits, and talents; and reinforcing each other through ups and downs, it turns you into more than just a team. You get to be friends in a really unique way, where everybody's mutual weirdness seems less so.
Plus, and this must be said: for a bunch of 30-(or so)-year-olds, we're all still really hot.
There was an alumni mile event. Dear me, I thought maybe someone else would be running it not quickly. Not so much. It was me and five former distance runners. The first three came in at 4:54, 5:37, and 5:45.
All the same... I'm a former hurdler who ran a mile in 7:51, and it was just maybe the best mile ever.