I just started a training regimen for my Camino journey in April.

Though I have been an athlete my entire life, walking over 10 miles a day for a week deserves some respectful and appropriate training, especially for my middle-aged feet.

So I started with low mileage and am walking - diligently - four times a week.

When the weather is nice, I love walking outside. But when it is inclement, I walk around a large indoor track.

There are all kinds of people walking or running around this track with me.

It used to be that I admired the fast ones - the young, sleek runners barely breaking a sweat as they run lap after lap after lap.

Or the sprinters.

Or the folks who just do lap after lap of lunges. (why?)

The fastest, fittest ones were my heroes.

But no more.

Now, I give an imaginary tip of the cap to the other kind of athletes:

The elderly woman who lopes slowly but surely around the track, listening to no music, wearing a fancy little fanny pack around her waist;

or the elderly man in baggy jeans, holding an old-fashioned walkman complete with huge black earphones that fit snugly over his bald head;

or the husky man with two knee braces on, grimacing as he goes;

or the gray-haired grandma who lists off to one side while she makes her way around;

and finally, the elderly couple who sweetly hold hands while they break the rules of the track and take up two lanes, forcing others to shmoosh into one lane to get by.

These are my heroes now.

The battered ...

The weathered ...

The wounded ...

The survivors ...

My walking friends.