Saturday, February 12, 2011

Archery Practice

This morning I shall do something that I have not done in forty-three days. This morning I shall run in the company of others. This morning I am making the short hop to Princeton to run in the Cupid's Chase 5K. It is an event whose point of origin is the Princeton Shopping Center on North Harrison Street. That is a place from which wonderful childhood memories emanate for me. The good memories have little to do with the stores that were once located there and everything to do with its layout.

The Princeton Shopping Center is an old-style shopping center. It is laid out like a square or perhaps a rectangle (while geometry was the math class in which I performed the best, being my best math class is something akin to be the tallest resident of Munchkin Land. When you say it fast it sounds impressive but upon further review not so much). All of the Shopping Center's parking lots are adjacent to the outside walls of the stores - or what I supposed serve as each store's rear entrance. The inside walls of the stores - their front entrances - open onto a common area that contains a walkway and also a Green. In a mind's eye flashback from my childhood I can see what I remember as a maze that was contained within the Green, which I used to love to run around and through as a little boy. A side effect of using The Shining as bedtime reading? Perhaps.

Last year it was really, really cold the morning of this race. Margaret braved the elements to come with Gidg and me to Princeton and proving just why she is the world's best Race Mom, in a venue where shivering people outnumbered warm, enclosed spaces by a wide margin she commandeered us primo space inside the Dunkin' Donuts. Warmth, hot coffee and indoor plumbing. If they are not the Big Three in the final countdown to the starting line on a winter morning race day, then they are secure in the knowledge that they reside in the top five.

Princeton's streets last Valentine's Day weekend were a bit interesting given their mixture of macadam and ice. We have actually enjoyed an essentially snow-free week here in the State of Concrete Gardens. Hopefully the absence of precipitation and the presence of temperatures north of the freezing mark will have combined to make the course slightly less interesting this year than last. We are not picking up our race swag until we get to the event this morning so I do not yet know if the t-shirts this year shall echo the theme of those provided last year. Everyone who pre-registered to run was guaranteed a long-sleeve shirt. The shirts came in two colors: white and red. A white shirt identified its wearer as "Unavailable" while those who wore red were advertising themselves as "Available".

Before one leaps to the conclusion that this race is organized by the folks who once ran Plato's Retreat in Manhattan, let me assure you that it is not. Instead, it is a labor of love for the good folks from Community Options, Inc., which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop housing and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Today, it will put on this race in two dozen cities across ten different states. According to the organization's web site, New Jersey's First Lady Mary Pat Christie is this year's National Honorary Chair. The web site is silent as to whether the Governor will be joining us today in Princeton for a vigorous 5K run. He is welcome to run with me. It is never a problem sharing the road with a fellow Springsteen fan.

As tough as this winter has been so far on everyone everywhere it shall be nice to be able to be outside this morning. I look forward to running in an event, in the company of others, as opposed to indoors on a treadmill by myself like some half-arthritic hamster. Given how many miles I have logged thus far in training for the New Jersey Marathon on May 1, I am interested to see how much speed I have in my legs for what now qualifies for me as a "short" run. Given that the last time I ran outside - six short days ago - I became one with the macadam in a most unfortunate and unintended way, perhaps I am better served making sure that I end the race the same way I start it: upright and relatively unscathed.

-AK

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