It's 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and a solitary figure is working out on the Clovis East High track. He pumps his arms while sprinting out of the turn and keeps his knees nice and high.
One of the central San Joaquin Valley's most accomplished athletes is out here three days a week, nine months out of the year. Rain, fog, blistering heat, whatever.
"It makes you tougher mentally when you come out in any type of weather," Don Cheek says. "So when others athletes complain, you don't even hear it."
Cheek then laughs and raises his voice, which he does a lot, and you can tell the punch line is coming: "As long as it's not only raining in my lane!"
There's no coach or trainer, just a lone runner working out with two stopwatches (so he can time his own splits) and a towel draped across his neck. He wears spikes and sometimes brings out a starting block.
Did I mention Don Cheek is 83 years old?
Well, he is. But after watching Cheek go through one of his workouts, age suddenly doesn't seem so important.
"I go into local old-age homes and see people 65 and 70 in walkers," Cheek says. "Not me. Not me. It's the mind first.
"I don't even use the word 'old.' It isn't in my lexicon."
Cheek is ranked No. 2 in the country in the 100 meters (16.01 seconds) and No. 4 in the 200 (34.91), both in the 80-84 age group. He's held numerous records and won a slew of medals.
But Cheek isn't one to rest on his laurels, so he hands over a stopwatch and tells me to time him in the 200. I clock him at 35.97, well under the 40.2 All-America standard for his age group.
Six minutes later, which isn't very long, it's time for the 100. I time Cheek in 17.16, under the All-America standard of 18 flat.
So in just a few minutes, with no one pushing him and no crowd cheering him on, Cheek turns in two national-class times.
But that's not necessarily good enough.
"To be world class you have to train at your maximum level," he says. "That's what I have in mind when I work out here: the Worlds. Am I top two or three in the nation? Yes. I want that in the Worlds."
A part-time lecturer in Fresno State's Africana Studies Program, and before that a professor of education and social psychology at Cal Poly for 26 years, Cheek has always possessed a world view.
Cheek sees himself as a multicultural social psychologist, which means he studies relationships between individuals and groups of races.
Having grown up in Harlem during the 1930s, it's a field in which he's uniquely qualified. It's easy to think of Harlem as an African-American section of Manhattan, but that wasn't the case before World War II.
When Cheek grew up, his neighbors included immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Italy.
"A Chinese guy down the street from us had a sign that said, 'Me colored too.' " he says.
A block away, on Lenox Avenue, was the Savoy Ballroom where the jitterbug was invented. Cheek was too young to go in but remembers standing outside and hearing jazz music played by Count Basie and sang by Ella Fitzgerald. He remembers seeing boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis.
Always a fast runner, Cheek earned a track scholarship to Seton Hall, where his roommate, Andy Stanfield, went on to win two gold medals at the 1952 Olympics.
Since then, Cheek has hardly slowed down. A torn meniscus in his left knee sidelined him in 2008-09, and the doctor told him he'd never run again.
Can't imagine a worse diagnosis.
Cheek, who lives in Clovis with his wife, Patti, started training at Clovis East 12 years ago. Jim Farmer, the school's track and field coach, grants him special access to the newly resurfaced track.
"We're actually really fortunate he's out here," Farmer says. "He's a good role model for our kids and a mentor for our coaches. He's welcome whenever he wants."
Friend Merle Carter calls Cheek an inspiration.
"He's a role model. He's an athlete. He's a Dad. He's a spiritual leader," says Carter, who met Cheek at Saints Community Church in Fresno, where Cheek is a church elder.
"You're always going to learn something being around him. Not just from what he says, but from what he does."
Cheek attributes his athletic longevity to a healthy lifestyle. A typical dinner consists of salad, sweet potatoes, collard greens and corn bread. No fast food, ever, and no soda.
But even more important is what Cheek feeds his mind.
Sociologist W.I. Thomas once wrote, "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."
Which basically means: You are what you think.
"I guess the secret is never being satisfied, always pressing forward and always wanting to do better with a godly foundation," Cheek says.
It's what keeps him going all those mornings alone on the track.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, email@example.com or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.