Sunday, March 21, 2010

In Search of Maria Espinoza

Today promises to be another gorgeous day here 'NTSG - an almost (if not quite pitch perfect) mirror image of the one that preceded it yesterday. A nice enough day for a heart attack? Here's to hoping that question remains unanswered for our fearless hero - me. And for those of you out there who do not necessarily subscribe to my point of view on the issue - well, I probably have done at least one thing in my life vis-a-vis you to merit your disdain. Your position therefore is - in my book - understandable and absolutely defensible. You need not justify it to me.

This morning my running pal Gidg and I are driving Skate down Route 9 South to Mr. Springsteen's birthplace to participate in a 10-mile race. At some point not too long after one of us (Gidg) sold the other (me) on the fact that running in a half-marathon would be a real hoot, one of us (me) sold the other (Gidg) on the idea that before taking part in a race of that length on April 18 [T minus 21 days] it made sense to run in a race of considerable distance. My thought was simple: let us get the lay of the land as it were. Both of us have remained faithful to our training regimen and have covered this distance by ourselves. Running solo on the back roads of town or like Harvey on a treadmill for an interminably long time prepares you for the physical part of the undertaking, but not the mental. Running in a quasi-competitive setting (I checked last night and discovered that once again I am in an event that chooses not to recognize my anticipated finishing position of "Hurry Up Fat Ass, We Are Packing Up to Get Out of Here!" It is OK. I am used to being slighted. I will bounce back for I am resolute (although I find from my own experience that being round is my greatest advantage in this particular pursuit).

Today is a no bullshit Mojo day for me. I awakened this morning with a bit of anxiety. It is not everyday that I step as far outside of my comfort zone as I am doing today. And while success will bring with it at least a transient feeling of self-satisfaction, not doing so will bring with it a far longer lasting feeling of failure. It is human nature to shake off the dust of our successes more quickly than we do the stink of our disappointments. And in that respect at least I am indeed human.

As I was standing in the shower this morning, hoping to jump start my heart just a little, I found the inspiration I needed to know that I have what it takes to make today successful. I thought back to November 2008. I thought back to Margaret and me standing in the early morning cool of Glynco, Georgia. I thought of the two of us watching Rob and his mates follow their leader - Santiago - up the road that led past the front door of the chapel. And I thought of the two of us knowing not whether to cheer or cry when we saw Rob reach the group's designated finish line - and doing both just to be on the safe side. I thought of the look on Rob's face and on the face of each one of his mates when the run was completed; each of them knowing something that those of us gathered to watch their arrival did not know, which was that anyone who failed to complete that last 10-mile run that morning would fail out of the Academy, would not graduate the following morning and would not begin his or her anticipated career immediately thereafter. No pressure; huh?

Prior to departing for the Great American West in late November Aught-Eight, Rob gave me a present, which may be the coolest gift I have ever received. It is a black t-shirt with his name, the name of each of his classmates and their achievement written on its back. It was the natural choice for today's race. So I shall run today with Rob's name etched on the back of the shirt I wear and with the image of Rob's face at the moment he completed that final 10-mile run in Georgia etched in my mind's eye. Son as teacher, father as pupil. Again.



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