Living in Santa Rosa we are blessed with an abundance of fine parks and trails. Our local X-Country team coaches are obviously well aware of this and you will often find their teams training in one of these parks. Living on the east side of town and less than a mile and one-half from Spring Lake I often will literally run into the kids and their coaches.
Recently I have been having these kind of run-ins with Piner HS and their great coach Luis Rosales near the Oak-Knolls picnic area in Spring Lake Regional Park.
I will often stop to wave and sometimes chat briefly with Luis. His enthusiasm is infectious and I always enjoy talking to him about running and his team.
What really gets me going however is the palpable energy coming from his runners.
I typically get off work around 4-4:30pm, ride or drive home and quickly change into my running clothes and shoes and head over to Spring Lake. Although I almost always look forward to my run, I will often be mentally tired and less than 100% motivated when I arrive at the park.
Once I see Luis and his runners or any HS runners my mood starts to change. It’s not always easy to tell what school the kids represent, especially the boys who seem always to be shirtless, but it is easy to see that they are young and full of energy.
Most of the time the kids I see up in the park are pretty focused but even when they are obviously goofing off (and I can actually match their pace for a short time) they are just so full of life it’s hard not to feel some of it rubbing off on you.
Without exception the kids I see are friendly and respectful. As I look at them and realize all the things that they will experience in running and in life and all of their incredible potential I also imagine that they might think it is pretty cool that an “old man” is still out there doing something that they can do.
One of the biggest and best changes in running since I was in HS, is the rise of the female runner. I see the boys and girls running together and interacting as team mates and can’t but help feel a little envious of the easy and natural banter between them. What a great thing.
There is a tendency to think that all kids are lazy and obese, bad students and poor citizens. These kids I see training at the park are none of those things. They for the most part seem to embody ambition, fitness and discipline. With those traits nailed down, they almost certainly must be good students and good future leaders and citizens.
When I see these kids in the park, my pace quickens and I become briefly somewhat younger and less cynical and I feel good about the future.