Getting on Track

November 9, 2010 at 6:12 AM | Posted in Growing up, Running | Leave a comment
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Autobahn Country Club

I have regrets about my youth, things that I would do differently: I would have worked to be an excellent golfer right from the start,  run track and cross-country, swim and I would have learned how to study. I set my sights too low back then and had a long list of things I wasn’t good at.

This past weekend I ran an interesting race at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. When I first read the name I thought Audubon, the naturalist and artist. A number of golf courses have nature preserves, some noting Audubon. But I  soon learned this was a car racing club and yes, I guess, it was out in the country.

A view of the track

The race course for our run was the track itself, one loop being 3.56 miles. This is an odd distance for a running race and that gave it a certain interest and allure. I have never been to a car race and do not know what, for instance “Nascar” stands for. So, this race was a real novelty for me and I drove longer than usual to experience it.

From the ground you can’t get a idea of what the wavering track is like and so my sense of it came from the run itself. There were mile markers and this gave a certain context though if there weren’t any, the distance would have had greater mystery. (As an aside, Ben Hogan didn’t believe in yardage markers on golf courses as they took away a key skill and interest: reading distance through experience and instinct. I agree with him.)

Most running races take place on streets (save those on paths) so I was struck by how different this felt, this running on a race track. It felt special in the same way as when my wife and I were living in Germany in 1973, during the gas crisis, and they closed the Autobahn on Sunday, and let only bicycles loose. Thus race felt like that: a one of a kind experience.

Getting on the track reminds me once again that there is nothing that I haven’t done, that I cannot do and that I really shouldn’t regret anything.

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