Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Slice of Life

I had the pleasure of participating Wednesday night in the 11th Annual Downtown 5K and Pizza Extravaganza in Westfield.  My running partner Gidg and I have run this race annually since 2010.  This year, unlike the first two times we participated in it, it was not insanely hot at race time.  It is July.  It is Jersey.  Heat and humidity are the norm although given this race's 7:00 pm starting time the conditions in which we ran in 2010 and 2011 were a bit abnormal.  Wednesday night was not.

Westfield is a terrific little town and its Downtown - if it did not exist already - looks like something that Hollywood would erect on a back lot somewhere.  I do not know how many people competed in the race on Wednesday night.  My math skills are limited so I shall leave it at "a lot" and go from there.  I also do not know how many people volunteered their time whether for the race or the post-race "Pizza Extravaganza" but - again - "a lot" seems to be in the range.  Tremendous effort by the folks who did the volunteering, including but not limited to the three pizzerias that supplied 250 large pizza pies each to ensure that the "Extravaganza" portion of the evening lived up to its billing.  Simply a top-notch event from beginning to end.  

I do not pretend to know whether all of Westfield actually comes out for this annual event but it certainly feels that way.  The race begins and ends Downtown and it loops through tree-lined, residential streets as well.   Countless homes past which we ran Wednesday night were manned by kids with hoses spraying water over the runners as we ran past them.  There were people holding up handmade signs in support of family members, friends and neighbors too.  As we headed down the final hill that led us back into Downtown the sidewalks were lined three and four deep.  My biggest complaint about the New Jersey Marathon - other than the fact that it is too damn long - is the absence of any spectators for a significant portion of the race.  That is not a problem that afflicts any runner in Westfield.  The support is outstanding. 

One time a year - on a Wednesday night in July - I spend a bit of time in a town where a a much younger man I spent a considerable amount of time.  Life is a forward-moving experience.  It is nice though every now and again to take a moment to reflect on a place or a time or a something that evokes a happy memory.  For as long as I am able to run I hope to participate in this particular event.  Its nominal cost is far outweighed by its tremendous benefit.  The very definition of a bargain.

And who among us does not love a bargain?


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