Sunday, September 20, 2009

Staying a Step Ahead of the Coyote

Sue's Crew is but two weeks away from our maiden voyage. Today is the penultimate Sunday of September and on the first Sunday of October we shall gather with thousands of people we do not know (Hell - I do not know half of the people on our team) and run a bit. The race was originally scheduled for 7:00 a.m. but the start time has been pushed backed to 8:00 a.m., which I am happy about for at least two reasons. First, we will spend the night before the race standing on the field at Giants Stadium for three-plus hours watching Springsteen and the ESB so the idea of running at 0800 as opposed to 0700 is OK by me. Second, Jackson New Jersey is not exactly right around the corner from our house (a fact that has never, ever made me unhappy - not even a little) and it will probably take at least an hour to get there from here. As someone whose day starts at the crack of 3:00 a.m. every day, getting up and out to be there by 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday is no big deal. However, I shall be traveling with Margaret and Suzanne who more closely resemble Thelma and Louise than sunshine and happiness in morning's wee small hours.

This morning I ran my first 2.8 mile session, which is the distance at which I will run all this week, in my continuing efforts to avoid abject humiliation fourteen days from now. I suspect that I shall be just fine. While it was for me - as it always is - physically taxing to run (I suppose that is - in part - the point) it is incredibly peaceful to run early in the morning. Even on - or perhaps especially on - a Sunday morning in the hours before dawn there is little activity on the streets here NTSG. I pass through neighborhoods including my own that are left undisturbed by my presence. I do not listen to music while I run. I may very well be the only adult in the English-speaking world who does not own a mp3 player, whether an Ipod or some other manufacturer's model. I like to think when I run (one could argue - presuming I am in fact thinking while I am running - that the time spent running is the only time all day when I do any thinking at all) about any one of a million different things. Music piping into my ears at close range would only interfere with my ability to think. Trust me, I am easily distracted.

A benefit of living in suburbia is that in the pre-dawn hours of the early, early mornings our little town gives off the aroma of a place at peace. Whether peace exists within the four walls of all of the homes I run past, within only some of them or within none of them at all, the outward appearance that all present is one of peace. I have settled upon a route that allows me to run from my home to Victor Crowell Park where several years ago the Boro Council erected a 9/11 Memorial. Our little town lost one of our own on that horrible morning eight Septembers ago. I did not know Tom Gorman. I know from what I have learned of him since his death that he was a police officer who worked for the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, a husband and a father. The Memorial at the park is a sad reminder of his death but it is also a wonderful reminder of the life he lived and of the lives but also a wonderful reminder of his life. It is illuminated all night so when I run past it at slightly past 3:00 a.m. it is set off majestically from all that surrounds it. It is beautiful, albeit in a haunting kind of way. I run past it and never fail to think of two things: how beautiful it is and how much I wish there was no need for its existence.

My route around town allows me to run past Joe's house (my father-in-law is (like me) eleven different kinds of crazy but not even he is crazy enough to be awake and about at 3:00 a.m.), past the homes of a couple of friends, past the boyhood home of one of Rob's comrades who is presently plying his trade in the home of the high life and finally past the home of the guy up the block who drives a truck that is a doppelganger for Rob's. It may very well be the best finishing landmark in the history of road running.

I wonder if I can persuade him to drive it to Jackson New Jersey a couple of Sundays from now? It has a big long bed, which if things do not go according to Hoyle, Margaret and Suzanne can use to transport me home.

-AK

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