Saturday, February 13, 2010

Running with the Lady in Red

Life is a crap shoot. An adage proven time and time again in any number of forums and by any number of means. One such means is February 5K road race. Or so it seems based upon the seasonal, borderline Buffalo weather we have been having 'NTSG lately. Way back when, in the crazy days of early December when I registered to run in the Cupid's Chase 5K in Princeton, I was overcome by the desire to run a race whose lines of commencement and terminus are at the Princeton Shopping Center on Harrison Street. I recall going there often with Mom when I was just a child and while the middle portion of this retro, open-air shopping mall is now wide open I have a memory of there being a maze located in that space way back when (although the photographs of the Center's history do not substantiate my memory).

Maze or not, this morning at 10:00 a.m. or so, Gidg and I shall be among the participants in the Cupid's Chase run. I suppose that if the roads in Princeton Township are in a condition similar to the atrocious shape they were in when I drove down there on Thursday night to pick up our bibs, numbers and the always important "goodie bags" that I will bear the wrath of Gidg the entirety of the ride back to Middlesex. I shall wait to gauge her outrage over my having talked her into running in a race in mid-February in central Jersey before I play my trump card, which is that I signed up for the half-marathon in April that will likely kill me on her suggestion and instigation. Margaret is coming with us on this trek, in part to provide moral support and in even bigger part because I mapped out the precise location of the Dunkin' Donuts (Bldg E - Store #41 for those of you mapping along at home) and its proximity to the start and finish lines.....and because I promised to buy her coffee and a jelly donut chaser. I am counting on Margaret to either distract Gidg or at the very least protect me from her in the car on the way home if the roads today are as bad as they were on Thursday. To put it bluntly, failing to remove the snow from your vehicle in Princeton Township is not only most likely not a violation, it is a form of camouflage that will allow you to traverse the Township's highways and byways undetected for the point at which the horizon meets the sky is more clearly defined than the point at which the snow-covered roads intersect with your snow-covered vehicle.

Thursday night I picked up not only my race stuff but Gidg's as well. While the name of the event is topical - and more than a tad corny for my taste - I had thought nothing of it after I signed up to run in it more than sixty days ago. While I suspected that the event would have some sort of commemorative shirt for its entrants I was prepared only to respond to an inquiry regarding "size" and not one regarding "availability". I did not know in advance that this event provides two different color choices for the runners' long-sleeve t-shirts: white and red. I also did not know until squarely confronted by the issue that one color signifies "UNAVAILABLE" while the other signifies "AVAILABLE".

As an old married harrier - and much to the profound disappoint of the female participants and spectators, I grabbed a white "UNAVAILABLE" t-shirt for me. That part of the process was easy. However, because I tend to be fairly obtuse to the day-to-day of those around me, inclusive of family and friends, I froze when I was then asked what color shirt Gidg should wear. Time being of the essence I had no time to call or text her. I blurted out, "AVAILABLE" without giving it too terribly much thought.

The woman who was distributing the contestants' packets smiled when I said what I said. In no small part because she immediately realized that I was an idiot. Given two COLOR options I responded to her question by saying neither and saying something completely different instead. I think she smiled in part at the hope of perhaps being able to make a mitzvah for some single male contestant she knows and our gal Gidg. I caught her looking back down at Gidg's name in the list of contestants after I pinned the Scarlet "A" on her (actually the whole shirt is red so maybe the "A" pin needs to be another color altogether to ensure visibility) undoubtedly checking out not only where she is from but also her other vital information.

Driving home from Princeton on Thursday night, I must confess that I wrestled with the idea of whether I had in fact just (a) pimped out one of my friends and my steadiest running partner; and/or (b) thrown a monkey wrench into some relationship into which she may currently be involved. While the explanation of how she has ended up running this morning with the word AVAILABLE across her back is wholly plausible and at least moderately humorous (What is that you are thinking; not thus far it isn't?), it may be markedly less so for one currently cast in the role of significant other. Especially given the fact that it is THE weekend for romantics everywhere; right? Nothing evokes passion in one's special someone quite like a President's Day celebration.

So when we get to Princeton this morning I hope merely that the roads are suitable for us to run and that Gidg runs fast enough to keep apace of all of her fellow red-suited running companions with whom she wants to remain apace and fast enough to stay at least a step ahead of those with whom she does not.

For while a million miles of vagabond sky is one thing, 3.1 miles of tough to negotiate, snow-covered macadam is quite another altogether.


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