Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Sunday in the Park......with Susan

It is an innocuous sounding term - "5K". It sounds almost serene, does it not? "Oh the joy we shall find taking part in this little 5K". As if it was in fact nothing more than a walk in the park.

Courtesy of the good work of my eldest, Suzanne, and her cousin, Megan, a team of runners has been assembled to participate in a 5K. And the team shall do so essentially one month from day - on the 4th of October. We shall gather that morning to run in Jackson, New Jersey at a place that otherwise you could not drag me save for the fact you used a team of wild horses to get me there: Great Adventure. If there is a more miserable, soul-sucking way to spend a day than on the grounds of Great Adventure, I have yet to stumble across it.

Proving yet again that for every rule there is an exception, we shall gather that morning at Great Adventure to run in support of an excellent cause. Our team - Sue's Crew (named for Margaret's mom/Suz & Megan's "Nona") - is going to participate in the 16th Annual Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure. As a certain Jersey rock and roller once intoned, "I was proud to be asked and I'm pleased to join" (I presume that if and when either Bill or Rob reads this, the reference shall appear clear as a bell) Sue's Crew.

The less than great thing about a 5K is that while it sounds innocent enough, 5K turns out not to be quite as much so as one might think. I realized that I probably should have either paid more attention in grammar school when we studied the metric system or not blown off the Canadian girl I met while skiing in Killington Vermont on Doc Rud's wrestling ski trip my freshman year in high school. It turns out that "5K" is short for "5 kilometers", which translates from the metric/Canadian into American as 3.1 miles. Foolish me - I was seduced by the simplicity of the language. Apparently, 5K not only converts readily into 3.1 miles but also into an easy reminder of what I hope to avoid that morning: a heart attack (5 letters in the first word and 5 letters leading up to the payoff letter "K" in the second word).

While I have run in one of these events before (Jill and I ran in one together in December '08 to help raise money for one or more charities in New Brunswick, which event helped bring a bit of Christmas to children who might not otherwise have had it) but (a) that was so long ago I had actually forgotten about how hard it was for me to do; and (b) in large part because my sister carried me (figuratively - not literally - for she "ain't as big as a minute" and I would have crushed her if it were meant literally) it did not seem too terribly awful.

So, these past few weeks I have started the process of rediscovering the joy of running in the darkness through my neighborhood before leaving for work in the morning. I am incrementally increasing my distance up to 3 miles (that is the goal anyway) in the hope that running 3 miles daily in the darkness, alone, without blowing a valve or a lung or some such thing will increase the likelihood of me not turning into 180-odd pounds of feed for the Gorillas at Great Adventure's Safari Park on October's first Sunday. I soothe myself by trying not to think about what often befalls the best-laid plans of mice and men.

And when that starts me thinking that - much like the fat man in the diner I have bitten off more than I can chew and there does not appear to be a soul around who is skilled in the maneuvering of the Heimlich - I quell my darkest fears by setting my sights just a bit lower. The goal is not after all to win. It is simply to help a worthy cause raise some needed funds through an act of participation. Survival is the goal.

Hell, I want to more than simply survive. I want to do so and wind up looking at least a little better than this guy at the finish.


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