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Not Bad for an Old Man

We live in southern Florida where hills are pretty scarce. Especially here on the coast. So adding a hill to our morning workouts means finding a bridge.

Fortunately, we have one that’s pretty close by: a drawbridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.

I’ve worked this “hill” into a couple of our longer routes, and it’s one of my favorite destinations on my solo outings. I like the challenge of the climb.

Last week, I was out early on one of my wife’s days off. I headed for the beach – and a chance to get in my favorite “hill climb” twice.

We usually don’t run into other runners, except on weekends. But as I headed up the incline on this weekday morning, I saw one cresting the bridge from the other direction. Two more appeared hot on his heels.

As I moved to the right to give them room to pass, more runners appeared. By the time the first one had reached me, there must have been 7 or 8 of them heading down the bridge.

The lead runner was young, in great shape and wore a shirt with his first initial and last name emblazoned across the front. “Good morning, sir,” he said in snappy military fashion.

I waved and wished him a good morning.

In fairly rapid succession, most of the young men and women coming the other way – and now there were a lot more of them – gave me the same military style, “Good morning, sir.”

And the stream kept coming. Seven or 8 turned into 20-something. For them, heading downhill, a single, “Good morning, sir,” was no big deal. For me, going uphill and faced with an almost non-stop stream of replies, it was another story.

I barely had time to grab a quick inhale between “good mornings.” By the time I reached the top of the bridge, I may as well have been giving a speech. I was just about out of breath.

The runners must have reversed direction when they reached the foot of the bridge. Because, by the time I was halfway down the far side, they were catching me from behind.

As one of the young men caught me, he said, “Keep it up, sir. Looking good.”

“Not bad for an old man?” I asked, managing a smile.

“Not bad at all, sir,” came the reply.

“Where are you all from?” I called to him.

“Police academy, sir,” he said. Then, as he accelerated away, “You should apply.”

I’m sure he wasn’t serious. But it did feel good to know I’d been moving faster uphill than some of his academy cohorts had been going on the down side.

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