Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Fundamental Difference Between Price and Value

Since I first was bitten by the running bug (thanks Jill) a couple of years ago, I have run in races of varying lengths and in several different states. For the most part, after I try an event one time, if I enjoy the experience - and my schedule permits - I sign up to run it again. As a general rule, from the beginning of March through the end of November, even in a state where the weather in the late winter and the late autumn can range from downright unpleasant to unbearably brutal one can find a place to run. And in so doing, a cause to support. For that is the purpose of these events after all - to raise money and awareness for a particular issue or institution. None of them are soliciting funds or participation for a bad purpose. The purposes simply have varying degrees of good, depending upon your own perspective.

We have just wrapped what are for me the best two weeks on my race calendar. My two favorite events are stacked up back-to-back. As long as I am able to do so I shall look forward to participating in the Tunnel to Towers Run on the final Sunday of September and the Komen Race for the Cure (South and Central Jersey Edition) on the first Sunday of October. I think that even if/when I am not able to run in them - should one or both of my legs finally move for secession - I will participate as a volunteer. Or, as they are affectionately called at the Tunnel to Towers Run, "Tunnel-teers".

For me, it is no mystery why I derive as much from these two events as I do. It is two-fold. First, as someone who has been fairly characterized for most of his life as me-centric, self-obsessed and more than a tad caustic when it comes to dealing with others (and that was just the highlights in Dave's Best Man toast at my wedding 18+ years ago), I find both Sundays not only invigorating but necessary.

Invigorating because of the energy that pulsates through both of them. It is hard to find a more spirited, upbeat and relentlessly positive place to spend a Sunday than either at the Tunnel to Towers Run or at the Race for the Cure. Do not feel compelled to accept my word as the truth on this issue. Check out either event's web site and scan the faces - of participants, organizers, volunteers and spectators alike - and see for yourself. The positive vibe is revitalizing.

Necessary because it forces one - such as me - who tends to oversell the depth and breadth of each and every one of life's "tragedies" to confront head-on people who know what real hardship looks like. I spend the day interacting with people for whom tragedy is real and not the distilled movie-of-the-week jive variety. And I am provided the opportunity to meet people of substance - understated to a fault perhaps. People whose impact is felt by all those they interact with, whether they are cognizant of it or not.

The second reason - and for me equally as important - that these two events are the most significant ones in which I take part is that they are not solo rides. Margaret gets dragged to too many races by the horse's ass to whom she is married. Not to either of these. She is as blown away by the Tunnel to Towers Run as am I, having experienced the race for each of the past two years from her vantage point at the finish line area.

And the Race for the Cure is my bride's one race that she runs every year. We have had III editions of Sue's Crew and each year she has not only been intimately involved in the pre-Race and post-Race preparations but she has competed as well. I spent this past Sunday doing what I have had the pleasure of doing each of the past three years - cheering for her as she crossed the finish line. In terms of her finishing time, she was off the podium. In terms of her demeanor, she won a medal.

The Race for the Cure is an event (as is the Tunnel to Towers Run albeit to a lesser degree) that for us is very much a "family" affair. It is the only time all year that Suz, Margaret and I run in a race together and this year we expanded our familial tentacles to ensnare not only Kara for the second time but Russ and Jordan as well.

As a general rule, in the real world everything has a price. An item's price is often used to calculate its value. As a general rule, that is not a bad shorthand to employ....

....but not all of the time. Not, for instance, on a couple of early Autumn Sundays. In those instances, price is negligible while value is incalculable.


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