By Monday afternoon, the local politics of the day, the results of dumb political polls and craziness from our national’s capital had turned my brain into oatmeal. The condition of our city, state and country sometimes pricks my emotions.

Usually, I will read or intentionally watch a bad TV show when I'm stressed. For some reason, I decided to go to the park near my house and walk around the indoor track. 

This wasn't some plan to lose weight or get healthy. I would walk until I got tired, and then I’d stop, which I anticipated would be very soon. No competition. No talking.

When I stepped on the track I was prepared to do two laps. The sign in the building says it takes seven laps to do a mile. The slightly over 2,000 steps it takes to make a mile was not on my mind.

The first lap started out quietly. There was a short, older woman walking slowly just ahead of me. I  blew by her in a couple steps. I felt better about that than I should have.

Ahead, there was a chubby young guy with his chubby black headphones. He peeked over his shoulder at me. The look he gave me seemed intentionally demeaning. I think, deep down, he was laughing about me, my age and my weight.

I sped up and, before you know it, I passed him up.

Coming up from the rear was a woman swinging her arms as she held a conversation on her cellphone. Her conversation was as annoying as the fact that she had pulled right up beside me.

I walked away from her quickly. This was all in the first lap.

I just wanted to walk aimlessly for two maybe three laps, then leave. But my competitive juices were now bubbling.

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After lap two, I still had some gas in the tank, so I set my sights on maybe four laps. The track was starting to get more populated. But I was getting lost in my music, and some of the chunky chuggers I now wanted to pass.

I had the Gap Band, Jaheim, the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye and other Top 40 stuff playing in my earbuds. Just as a very fit couple pulled up next to me, the song “The Way We Were” by Barbara Streisand came into my ears. How the hell did that happen?

I hoped the couple hadn't heard it. I knew they would laugh at me. What better definition of old is someone walking to music by Streisand? I slowed down so they could pass and I could switch the song. In truth, I love that song, but not with company.

I finished four laps and went home, very pleased with myself.

By Wednesday evening, I was fired up. My steps were surer. I was beginning to enjoy this.

I was irritated for a little while because this slender guy, with expensive earphones draped over his dreads and dressed in a way-cool set of warm-ups walked past me. But what was I going to do? He was flaunting his youth. How sad it had come to that.

As for competing with the rest of the crew, I knew I could do a pretty good job. One woman was walking with her little daughter. The girl was pushing some sort of cart. They were toast, especially the little girl.

Some dude entered the track with his work clothes and boots on. He looked tired. He was a few steps ahead and suddenly decided to jog. Really? I took that as a challenge. After a couple fits and spurts, he settled into a very slow pace. Guess who soon passed him up with not so much as a nod recognizing his presence?

When I finished Wednesday, I had done 10 laps. Yes, 10 laps. I was passed up a couple of times by younger people, but for six laps, I kept a middle-aged woman at bay. I even shot her an over-the-shoulder glance that said at her weak pace and advanced age, she had absolutely no chance of passing me.

You know, if we continue to have political squabbles and lunacy on the national stage, I just might unintentionally shed a few pounds and get a sense of accomplishment by leaving the aged and the overweight in my dust.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at