Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Face in The Mirror

While I remain sorry for Rob and Suz as to the reason that prompted Rob's impromptu visit to the East Coast this week (a visit that ends - as per usual - far more quickly than I am prepared for it to end) I am happy that he was here. On Memorial Day I will be in Colorado with Rob and he and I shall run together in the Bolder Boulder. Given that he has been here since Thursday due to the death of his father's father, it is perhaps irony or coincidence (among my many intellectual shortcomings is the inability to determine which is which) that he and I shall be running together in Boulder on the 29th anniversary of the death of my father.

Memorial Day in Boulder is a planned outing. The Fool's Run in Manasquan yesterday was most assuredly not - unless you consider me sending Rob a text message on Thursday asking him if he wanted to run in it, hooking him up with a pair of my running shoes and then Gidg formally registering him for it on Friday night "planning". Under that scenario, I suppose it was an exquisitely well planned event. Here on Earth however I think we would define it as impromptu. And whichever side of definitional Mason-Dixon Line you choose to come down on matters not, for it simply was one hell of a day.

Usually - on days when the lower part of my right leg is not moonlighting as a reservoir of excruciating pain - my goal when I run is to turn miles at a 9:30 to 9:45 pace. That was the goal yesterday as well. Our plan (such as it was) called for Rob, Gidg and me to run together for as long as we could with none of the three of us knowing how long "together" would last. For Rob and me it lasted the entire 3.1 mile course. We started together, we ran side by side and we finished together. My ego compels me to point out two errors in the official race results. First, Rob and I crossed the finish line at or about the 27:39 mark. The additional 10+ seconds added into each of our times are the residue of a scoring system that requires the good folks at the finish to note and record manually each runner's time. It is an imperfect system but as the Emperor of All Things Imperfect I do enjoy the nuances of its charm. Secondly, while my name appears in the order of finish ahead of his, we finished in exactly the opposite order. Curiously, proving that she has connections everywhere she goes, Gidg's finishing time (a personal best of 30:20) was dead-on accurate. Go figure.

It was a bit chilly in 'Squan yesterday morning and chillier than I had expected it would be on March's final Saturday. In March even the weather participates in the Madness. 'Squan is a simply wonderful little town in which to run a road race. It is essentially flat. It is a town full of wonderful things to look at while you run and the course yesterday took us along the Inlet and then up onto the boardwalk. Even on a cold early Spring Saturday there are far worse ways to spend a few minutes than running with the Atlantic Ocean to your immediate right as the sun sheds light - if not copious amounts of heat - on the proceedings.

It was on the boardwalk that we passed the second mile marker and the gentleman calling out times to runners as we went by. Having missed the announcement at the first mile marker, I made certain to listen to this one as I wanted to see where Rob and I were time-wise. I almost stopped short when the man called out "17:30" as we passed him recognizing even with my Alley Oop-ish math skills that we were moving at a 8:45 per mile pace. And it was a pace we kept up as we took a right turn off of the boardwalk, back over the little bridge (which is on Main Street I think), past O'Neill's (where Margaret and Lynne had been since pre-race scoring a primo parking space and a table adjacent to the bar) before popping two quick left turns (somewhere my father is smiling no doubt) to the finish line. I paid particular attention to Rob during the final mile, stealing glances as he ran either to my immediate right or my immediate left and smiling. All the while doing so in a manner that I hope went undetected.

I have lived most of my life as a horse's ass - generally insensitive to the concerns of others and doing that which needs to be done for the betterment of me regardless of its effect on you. Somehow, for reasons that remain a mystery to me (much like why a tone-deaf, talent challenged crew of noisemakers such as Nickelback headline stadium tours and a talent such as James McMurtry sings to intimate gatherings of 200 or less in bars and coffee houses) I made out much better than I deserved to when I married Margaret. I brought to the table my Springsteen cassette and album collection (it was a pre-digital age). She brought to the table Suz and Rob. I was reminded again yesterday morning just how great a bargain it has been.

Best I ever had.

-AK

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