Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And So He Grows....

When I first starting running seriously three and one-half years ago, I damn near wore my poor wife out.  I have a tendency to take up pursuits in a manner that might be described as passionately or even fervently.  My daughter the genius is fond of torturing me over where she believes the position that best describes my state of mental health lies "on the Spectrum", which reference she typically makes immediately before laughing that laugh of one who knows something I do not know or fully comprehend.  She used to refer to me as "Adam Autism", which she has stopped doing since she moved to Texas.  I know not whether her cessation of that as my sobriquet has more to do with whatever personal growth I might have enjoyed in the past eighteen months or more to do with the fact that given her significantly reduced exposure to me, my level of impairment is difficult for her to quantify.  

Much to Margaret's delight (or so I would surmise), while running continues to be my principal recreational activity (only because according to Webster's quaffing Guinness is NOT a recreational activity) my zeal to participate in every race irrespective of distance has diminished significantly.  My participation in the Long Branch Half Marathon this past Sunday marked only the fourth time thus far in 2013 that I have taken part in a race.  If I had to give an estimate right now, I would say that I reasonably anticipate only taking part in perhaps another six or seven throughout the remainder of this year.  Two years ago, I ran in close to forty.  

The less I race, the more I enjoy not only running but the races in which I participate.  I have started conditioning myself to enjoy the experience much more than I ever bothered to do two or three years ago.  And I have started conditioning myself to enjoy being in the run more than worrying about the finishing time.  Sunday, I was happy with my finishing time to be sure.  But more importantly, I was not disappointed in it.  Not too very long ago I would have spent hours in the day or two following the event trying to figure out why I had not run one or two minutes faster than I had and torturing myself for not having done so.  I no longer waste my time on such silliness.  

Perhaps that is the best thing that I will carry with me (hopefully for the rest of my days but at least for the foreseeable future) from my brief experience as a marathoner.  I was bitterly disappointed when - in 2011 - I choked and failed to hit my self-appointed goal of 4:00:00 at the New Jersey Marathon.  The bitterness swallowed up everything else about that day and that experience.  Last year, having injured my left leg about a month before the Marathon, I gutted it out and although my finishing time was close to ten minutes slower in 2012 than it had been in 2011, I spent more time afterwards appreciating what I had accomplished and enjoying the day with Margaret - sharing with her the random thoughts that had been ricocheting throughout the corners of my mind while I had been struggling to make it home to her.  

On Sunday morning I spent the final few miles of the Half Marathon somewhere other than on the course.  Other than the sound of my own breathing and the breathing of other runners around me, the course in the average road race is a pretty quiet place.  It is delightfully easy to get lost in one's own thoughts.  Our little family has quite a bit of stuff happening both in our immediate future and a bit further on up the road.  Sunday morning I passed the time on the trip north through Long Branch enjoying my Atlantic Ocean vista and thinking of Margaret and of what the future appears to hold for both Suzanne and Rob.  I had turned off my iPod a few miles earlier and had removed the headphones/ear buds from my ears.  For it was peace I sought and it was not something for which musical accompaniment was necessary.  

I know not where I fall on my daughter's Spectrum these days.  But I know that alone on the road Sunday morning with nothing but the sound of my own footsteps to keep me company, on mine at least, I was completely at peace.  

-AK 

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