Saturday, January 2, 2010

So You Say You Want A Resolution....

How did you start your new year? I started mine by participating in a 5K race in Hillsborough Township yesterday morning. A terrifically organized and well-run event. Yesterday was the 10th edition of the Resolution Run. It was my first time taking part in it. Hopefully I am still standing and still able to run 365 days from now when it comes around again so I can kick off '11 the way I kicked off '10. Well, I hope I run faster next year than I did this year. I ran this year's edition as if I was carrying Baby New Year on my shoulders......and he was carrying a big-screen TV.

I know not what has possessed me to take up running as a recreational activity. Other than running track when I was in high school, running simply for the sake of running had never been something from which I had derived any pleasure. I run "in context", whether playing soccer or basketball as a kid or softball now as a 40-something, rapidly aging "never has been". I think I enjoy the fact that running not only gives me something to do in the morning after the alarm clock rings and prior to grabbing a shower and a cup of coffee before heading off to the office but that it also has a competitive element to it.

In fact, it has two. There is internal competition. Mornings when I run I try not to jog but to run. I wear a watch when I run and I try my best to make sure that I complete my morning run within a specified amount of time. No sense running at 3:00 in the morning if you are not going to run hard, right? I also like the external competition. I am not a 'runner' - merely someone who runs. I do enjoy participating in events such as yesterday's run. It provides an opportunity to run in the company of others, which I do not normally do, and to assess how well I do. Yesterday was not - candidly - a banner day. I completed the 5K run in a time that I was not entirely happy to have run. And there really is no excuse for the result. It was not especially cold yesterday morning, the roads that comprised the course were in excellent condition and it was not windy at all. I simply did not perform as well as I expected that I would. I like knowing that the relative success or lack thereof is my own. Falling short of what I had hoped to accomplish rests squarely on me. Accountability is never a bad thing - regardless of what daytime TV talk shows might do to try to convince you otherwise.

The principal reason though that I have developed at least a level of dedication to the whole notion of running is that I am not invincible. At one time or another in our life, we all believe ourselves to be. It is that feeling that fuels us to do certain things when we are young that - once we have a bit of gray in our beard or "snow on the roof" - we look back upon as older and perhaps wiser humans and shake our own heads in disbelief. At half the age I am now, I not only was invincible but I was unconcerned about life's length. Getting married and having children did not figure into my long-term plan for life. Presuming that I was going to be living solely for me, myself and I, little thought was given to the consequences of anything I did.

Anyway, I was in my mid-20's when I met Margaret and faster than you could say "Chia Family" I went from disaffected bachelor fella to husband and father of two small children (at that time at least both Suz and Rob were smaller than Margaret.....not the case any longer). Suddenly I started thinking about things that had never given me much pause - such as living to see 50.

It was just about this time of the year three years ago that I found myself having to spend 72 fun-filled hours or so in Somerset Medical Center - undergoing emergency surgery to have my apparently defective - and quite angry - gallbladder removed. That was nothing short of an eye-opening experience. A little tough to feel invincible while wearing a hospital gown permitting a cool breeze to blow upon one's arse. And while it was not a lesson I enjoyed learning while going through it - or for the several months thereafter when it hurt like hell to eat spicy food - it was a lesson that I dearly needed to learn.

My father has been dead a long time - fast approaching 30 years - and he was not an especially old man when he died. He was 57 at the time of his death. As another year begins and another birthday approaches, I am cognizant of the ever-shrinking distance between the age I am and the age at which he died. It seems to me that the logical play to make is to do what I can do to ensure that for me 57 is simply a number.

For there is no longer any room for me, myself and I. And that is indeed a most excellent thing.

-AK

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