Sunday, November 22, 2009

In the Footsteps of Curley Neal

Yesterday was simply a spectacular day for a Trot. I and a couple of thousand other wannabe turkeys - not including the group who ran with the turkey hats on - ran through the streets of Manasquan. Our little group, using Lynne's pad as our home base of operations had quite an excellent turnout. All four of the Sisters Kizis were in attendance yesterday accompanied by their respective families and Mr. and Mrs. K. made the journey south from 'NTSG to take it all in as well.

Margaret and three of the kids all ran in the one-mile race. My wife is an "occasional" runner. By that I mean she runs only when there is an occasion such as the Race for the Cure 5K or the Turkey Trot 1M. Her original action plan for yesterday called for her to stand on the curb line and cheer the runners in the two races. When she learned mid-week that there might have been a problem ensuring that the littlest Kizis entered in the 1M had a running buddy (he is only 5 years old) she signed up to run. Murphy being a lawyer, he opted out (again, he is only 5 years old). Once she signed up, she did not back down. And while she did not finish among the race leaders, she finished. She was - at race's end - happy she had participated in it and deservedly proud of her accomplishment.

I am not a runner. I run. My sister Jill is a runner. My brother-in-law Russ is a runner. To me, a runner is someone who is serious about it, who trains for a particular event and who is committed to always improving his/her time. I am not that person. I run for exercise and - much in the same way that writing on a daily basis brings me some measure of contentment - for peace of mind. I am not now and shall never be a runner. For starters, I am entirely the wrong body type. Runners are people who are sculpted more like the letter "l" than the letter "m". I am most assuredly a "m".

Also, I was reminded yesterday morning that a lot of runners come to an event such as this one looking to play a bit of a mind game on their fellow runners. Prevalent among the crowd of entrants in the 5M race were t-shirts of other races run. And I noted that for good measure, a lot of the "other event" shirts were for races of a longer distance than the 5M Trot. I saw shirts for 10K races, half-marathons, a lot for The New York City Marathon, a handful for the Philadelphia Marathon, a few for the Ironman Triathlon and even one for the Dakar Rally. Me? I do not engage in such pre-race shenanigans. And for good reason - I cannot pull it off.

It is a bit of an uneasy feeling - being at or near the starting line for a road race with thousands crammed into an area more comfortably occupied by dozens. When you are a "m" you can feel the eyes upon you from all different directions, eyeing you up and down much in the way that I imagine a pride of lions lounging in the sub-Saharan sun sizes up a herd of gazelles that might wander through its neighborhood. Assessing not only which ones can be killed but whether the kill would be worth the effort (meat on the hoof and that sort of thing).

At event's end yesterday I was not only still standing, which is always Goal #1, but I had completed the 5M course is 48:50. I would be lying if I said that as a 5M race novice, not to mention a 42+ year-old "m" I was not more than satisfied with my performance. A group of four of us ran in the 5M event yesterday and from the spot on the street where we were when the gun was fired (either signalling the start of the race or a spike in the 'Squan's violent crime statistics), it took us close to two minutes to reach the starting line. And yet all of us turned in times with which we were very happy. Mike, Pam's husband, was the leader of our group finishing several minutes ahead of me. And the now-to-be-feared aunt/niece running tag team of Gidg and Liv - who had a stated goal of one hour or less - crossed the line in 52:30 and at the finish line looked as if they had the energy to go another couple of miles at least.

It was quite simply a good day all around. A terrific event put on for a worthy cause and its organizers were given weather, which on November's 3rd Saturday, does not come our way very often here in Jersey. I cannot wait until next year just so I can wear my '09 Turkey Trot shirt to preen at the starting line.

Although I doubt it can be any more effective than my "I BAKE IN LARD" shirt proved to be yesterday. I do not have to make a decision on it today. I have a whole year to decide on wardrobe.


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