Three weeks ago, Evie and I were on the track.
She'd arrived at 6 a.m., and her early morning enthusiasm got me running fast immediately. Ordinarily, I manage to walk the first mile, enjoying a warm-up conversation with Ken, who arrives ahead of both of us.
Goal-oriented Evie and I clocked six fast miles by the time she left for work. I was happy with the mileage but troubled. Where was Ken?
You can set the clock by Ken, my running partner of 35 years. His middle name's "Dependable."
Ken answered, "You know I never need an alarm, lie in bed awake, watching the clock — except for today. I fell back to sleep and woke with a start. Realizing I'd overslept, I jumped out of bed, vaulted to the closet, felt dizzy and the next thing, I found myself in a heap on the floor."
Ken will never get up quickly again. That day's mishap broke two bones in his foot and one in his leg. He'll be out for six weeks.
"You don't know how I miss being active," he said.
For the former coach and sports fan, even the bowl games weren't enough to make up for his loss of mobility.
The following Monday, Evie met the hikers in the parking lot. Her phone app read 9,989 miles.
"I will have a thousand-mile year at the end of the hike," she told us.
A strong strider, Evie leads the group. A few miles into the hike, I rounded a bend, shocked to see hikers clustered around Evie, bent over, white with pain.
She'd heard a pop and felt a searing ankle tear. Nurses in our group directed me to tie my bandanna around her ankle. Someone ran for the ranger to meet us with a vehicle, and Evie called her partner, Don.
"What's up, Cupcake?" Don asked.
"I'm down," she said, "but not dead. Weeds don't die, they just get trampled a little."
A ranger truck rolled up, Evie hobbled in and we bumped back, descending at 90-degree angles to the parking lot.
Don pulled up, taking Evie to urgent care, where the diagnosis was three pulled ankle ligaments. By 1 p.m. she was taped up and at work.
Runners often encounter people who say, "I used to be a runner but my knees gave out, my ankle's weak, my feet won't take it."
We commiserate but we've all had injuries, taken time off and returned to the road, perhaps slower but ready for an altered workout.
Determined Evie, Dependable Ken, Crazy Carrie. All my Saturday Runners are different professional, social and political beings, but we share traits: We show up, get moving and finish the miles we set out to do. Injuries stop us, but after rest and rehab, we're back.
I'm alone on the track now and lonesome. My hardy partners won't be there for weeks. But I guarantee that Ken and Evie will rejoin me, running in circles and enjoying the sunrise.
Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70. Read more about her adventures at firstname.lastname@example.org.