Saturday, August 11, 2012

Park and Run

While I do not think the weather today in Asbury Park is going to be anything to earn Mother Nature a Key to the City or a seat on the Chamber of Commerce, I am looking forward to toeing the line this morning at the Asbury Park 5K.  It has been a mercifully light summer for me in terms of races run - something that makes my knees and my wife both jump for joy - and today's race marks the final one for me until Labor Day weekend.   The last time I checked the forecast, it indicated that the weather today shall be "August".  It is supposed to be hot and humid with at least a 40% chance of rain and thunderstorms.  I shall run with my lightning rod hat just to be safe.

Asbury Park is one of the once-prosperous towns perpetually perched on the verge of a comeback that dot the landscape of the Jersey Shore.  Significant sums of money have been spent - and for the most part with good results - revitalizing the eastern side of the town, with the line of demarcation (or the demilitarized zone for the cynics among us) being drawn at the train station.  The old saw about growing up on the "right" or "wrong" side of the tracks has never been provided with a more stark or poignant example than Asbury Park.   If you live or operate a business from the train station to Asbury Park's western boundary line, then "revitalization" is either an illusory concept or a cruel effing joke being that from the west side of the tracks anyone looking eastward can see the evidence of its impact.

Its 5K race is run exclusively in the "we fixed it up" side of town.  It is a two-loop race.  On the first go-round you run south to north on Ocean Avenue, which takes you right past the front door of The Stone Pony and also The Wonder Bar.  On the second loop, you eschew Ocean Avenue in favor for a run northbound on the Boardwalk.  The finish line is perhaps 200 yards south of Convention Hall.  This marks the third year in a row for me taking part in this race.  Among the coolest sights I have seen in any of the races I have run over the course of the past three-plus years is the finish area for this one.  The sights and sounds of the Boardwalk are to your left, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean is to your right and Convention Hall is right in front of you.  Beauty everywhere you look.  Trust me, even though I did not appear to be appreciating all of the aforementioned beauty, I was.  I really was. 

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning in August.  Irrespective of the weather. 


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