When the weather is just warm enough, I pass streams of school children spooling around sidewalk bends. They run as part of some morning PE ritual, following the long concrete path from school to street to orange cone. This cone marks a half-mile halfway point, seems to signal, we are in the home stretch.
And if I'm waiting at the interminable red light on the corner, I'll watch the first pack of runners round the corner: preteen boys with neon trainers and gangly, long-legged gaits. They easily lope past their friends and make for the cone, slivers of teeth gleaming through open-mouthed grins. Those early runners toss their unruly hair like would-be stallions, offer high fives to the peers they pass. We know we are fast.
Eventually the groups of runners thin, and spans pass between one boy and the next. Their frames are not built for knifing through the chill morning air. Doggedly, they pursue their classmates, heads low and chests heaving, fighting their way upstream without the reckless grace of the pack leaders. No smiles. No hand-gesture displays of camaraderie. I see nothing but grim determination, or perhaps desperation. We will catch you, someday.
For me, the light is finally green.