Not so warm up
Gabe Segura bares the cold before track practice.
By Zach Walker
Gabe Segura’s eyes well with tears. He smiles and greets a teammate as he strolls through a second set of doors into the Sports Recreation Complex at Bethel University. Away from the beast. The yeti. The 68-degree warehouse scorches.
One mile ago, on the other side of the brick exterior, the air bit. Like the freezer section of a Costco, it drove patrons out. For distance runners like Segura, the cold meant practice had started.
“Enjoy,” coach Joe Stephens said with a grin as he sent the team into the tundra.
The wind singed skin like a reverse blowtorch. Thighs and calves churned as athletes set out on an arctic expedition meant to loosen the muscles and prepare the lungs.
The weather app on Segura’s phone registered 15 degrees, the time bar above reading 4:15 p.m. They will run until 4:25 p.m.
Ten minutes feels much longer when you’re locked in a freezer.
The team looked like skiers jogging up and down the sidewalks of campus. Thermal jackets, full-length compression pants, knit hats, gloves. Anything to beat the cold.
At the finish, the smell of worn rubber wafts toward Segura. The familiar grunts and moans of throwers resemble a choir.
“You just have to bundle up.” — Gabe Segura
His tears begin a pilgrimage over cheeks flushed red with blood, finding solace in the absorption of fleece.
“You just have to bundle up,” Segura said as he peeled layers off to reveal a T-shirt and shorts.
He makes laps around the dull impact of mock shot-puts and the rhythms of tennis practice. One lap. Two laps. Three laps. He could have done 100 and been content. It was warm.
Every 60 seconds, he jogs past the entrance. Like a scratched record, he repeatedly gazes through the front window. Parked cars and bare oak trees and cold. So so cold.
He makes a final pass and transitions to a new workout. Lining up for a relay surrounded by men adorned in headbands and mid-thigh shorts, he turns his head. Away from the doors and windows.
Segura pounces forward and sprints through a blanket of air. He relishes in the comfort, slowing time before tomorrow’s warm up.