A 13-year-old boy caused the relapse of my Achilles heel injury.
He didn't kick me or anything, and his behavior was above reproach last Saturday at the Woodson YMCA, but it's his fault none the less.
I was cruising around the indoor track at a sedate 10 minutes per mile, without a care in the world. For the most part, I detest running indoors, but this winter, with its insidious snow and ice, has changed my perspective a bit.
In fact, last Friday, I had slogged through 6 miles at a glacial pace. I was slowed down plenty by three falls on ice patches that hid beneath a dusting of snow. They were more pratfalls than anything else, although my right elbow took a good crack on one of them. This angered me, of course, because I take any setback nature dishes up as a personal affront.
So I was inside on Saturday, going slow, because I didn't want to stress the Achilles injury that kept me out of the running for entire month of January. Recovery was going well.
Until the kid showed up.
He was with a man and woman, his mother and father, I presume. They began to jog around the track together, and I thought, "Hey, that's really cool."
The boy then pulled away from his parents, which was cool, too, I thought. Kids often have trouble in distance running because they let their excitement get to them, and they burn out quickly. They're like fireworks that way.
But this kid didn't sputter. He kept chugging away. Then he passed me, breathing hard. But he kept on going.
Well, I thought, this can't stand. I looked down at my watch. I realized that I had run the first couple of miles a bit over 10 minutes a mile, and figured if I bore down on the last one, I could make up for those and come in at an even 40 minutes for four miles.
So I picked it up. I looked at my watch with a half mile to go. Won't be good enough, I estimated. So I picked it up again. I slowly was reeling the kid in. The Achilles seemed to be holding up well. I picked it up a little bit more.
I honestly can't remember if I passed the boy or not. I don't think so, but maybe. But I can tell you that breathing hard and running at a pace that was at the edge of my abilities felt pretty good.
I probably looked like an average jogger, but inside I felt like The Flash.
I finished the four miles in 40 minutes and 15 seconds. I smiled. And then I felt the twinge.
Later, as I was complaining to my wife about how much my Achilles hurt -- it felt like someone was branding the back of my heel -- she asked me if I had been doing my rehab exercises every day.
Well no, it was feeling good so I let those go a bit.
She gave me the look. "And you're blaming some kid," she said.
"Well, he passed me!"
Maybe she's right. It wasn't the kids fault. It was all those people doing laps in the pool. It's their fault that I went up to the track in the first place, instead of swimming.