Frankie and I were doing our run through Astoria Park this morning. As usual, we came upon the running track, generally I like to do two laps around the track. Frankie and I stay on the outside of the fence and run in the same direction as the other runners. For whatever reason Frankie likes to turn on the jets when we hit the running track, I assume because there are people constantly out in front of him to chase. As we over take one, there’s always the next and the next for us to chase down. This tires Frank out and lowers my overall time.
Today was no different and as we hugged the fence we past runner after runner. That is until we came upon someone a little different in the outer most lane. He was big guy, a little older maybe 60 or so, built like he’d spent his life hauling steel. Shirtless, and keeping up a strong pace Frankie and I over took him on curve and were out in the front on the straight-away, not that it was a race, Frank just likes to sprint. On the straight-away I see the big guy catch up along side me he glances at Frank and smiles. Frank glances back in his direction and slows a little to that bouncing trot springy young dogs are capable of. That’s when I noticed “USMC” tattooed to the man’s shoulder in small but clear letters.
Suddenly he sucked up two or three big breaths of air and I thought he was faltering. He then looked at Frankie and let out a “HOOOOO AHHHHH” and it was on. Frank took off like shot and suddenly the three of us were sprinting around the track. I’m not embarrassed to say that old-timer gave me everything I could handle for a 1/4 mile. Frankie was out in front on a loose lead followed by me and a man probably twice my age. Sure, he had an inside lane, but I figured after 200 meters of so he’d give in. No. Instead his pace intensified coming into each straight-away, keeping me honest and making me work for my tiny lead. Both of us were breathing hard when we finished a hard 1/4 mile. He slowed as did I. I gave him a nod and he returned it. He smiled at Frankie who hopped back at the fence. Then Frankie and I went on our way to explore the rest of the park.
Want a challenge? Count on a Marine.