I was running mile repeats the other morning on the Cal State Long Beach track. It's a beautiful location and a great rubber surface, so it's easy on my old knees.
These are tougher workouts, as I have to run 4 - 5 miles at a specific pace and I check that pace every half-lap to make sure I'm on target. These are hard runs and require focused concentration to ensure that I stay on pace while also staying relaxed to keep my heart rate within a very specific zone.
It was early morning and I was the only person at all on the track. It was grand. As my imagination kicked in running around that track, I pretended I was Bill Gates and this was my own private track...all to myself.
Myself and the only living thing in sight, a very large beetle.
This beetle was struggling mightily as well. But his battle was to simply make it across the rubber surface of the track trying to get to the grassy infield area.
Each time I would make my lap around the track, I would notice that my little beetle friend had made progress, just as I had. He was moving very, very slowly, but with each passing lap, I noticed that he was making progress.
I paid special attention to make certain that I did not step on this little guy. I felt like we were brothers in this battle to reach our respective objectives.
Lap after lap after lap, I would look for this little guy and smile as I saw him.
Late in my workout, with just about 1 mile to go, a group of runners took to the track and it was no longer just me and my little beetle friend that had been with me for such a long, hard workout.
With just a few laps to go, when I was struggling the most, I looked forward to monitoring the progress of my beetle friend, again making certain to avoid him when I got to that one section of the curved portion of the track.
Then on my last lap, on the last final turn, looking forward to see my beetle friend for the last time, I discovered that one of the runners who had recently started jogging around the track had just squashed this little guy as flat as a pancake.
He certainly felt no pain to be sure, as he was summarily squashed with a hard quick stomp.
I was really surprised how much that bothered me.
It was almost as if they had killed my pet.
Something happens to us when we struggle hard and suffer together with a friend. Be it in workouts, group rides or a race.
We are brothers in sport, in pain, in suffering, in accomplishment. It's a bond that only those who suffer can understand.
And so that day, I lost a brother to a careless runner who thought nothing of stomping my running partner.
Just a beetle? What's the big deal? This fellow was my workout partner in my book and I was sad to lose him. I looked forward to watching and monitoring his progress.
I was really disappointed that he didn't make it to the infield.