Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chills and Thrills

This morning I am making sure that my daily run takes place outdoors - in the cold environs of New Brunswick.  For the fourth time - and the first time since 2010 - I am running in a truly terrific 5K event that is a labor of love for the good people at the Rutgers University Recreation Department, aptly titled "The Big Chill".



2013 is the eleventh edition of The Big Chill.  Its purpose is to generate donations of toys, clothes, winter coats for children in need:  to bring Christmas into the lives and the homes of children who would otherwise not have a chance to experience it.  As human beings ago, I am fairly low-hanging fruit.  Spotting the differences and distinctions between a good, compassionate person and me does not require the investigative expertise of Colombo or Kojak.  Even those of us who run into goodness by mere happenstance can on occasion fall into something really wonderful.  The Big Chill is just such a something. 

I stopped by the College Avenue Gym on Friday night to drop off my 'entry fee', an unwrapped toy, and to pick up my bib for this morning's race.  The mood in the gym was great.  Toys were already stacked up by the hundreds, volunteers were everywhere and people like me who had registered to run were streaming in to drop off our donation and just spend a moment or two taking in the atmosphere.  It made one happy to be a human. 

As races go, this one has always been a bit of a mob scene especially at the start and the initial descent on College Avenue towards Somerset Street.  However, things tend to open up more than just a little bit after you bang the second of two quick left turns, which takes you from Somerset Street onto George Street.  You enter George Street at just about its lowest point - immediately before the train trestle and you ascend it.  All the way to its highest point - at Huntington Street.  The soul-sucking climb, combined with George Street's proximity to the Raritan River, makes this run - although it is only a 5K - a hell of an invigorating way to spend a December morning.

The Race Map for the Big Chill

I love not only the challenge of the climb up George Street but also the layout of the finish.  The Finish Line is on College Avenue immediately adjacent to the gym.  Having started the race descending College Avenue, we shall finish it by running uphill on College for a couple of blocks.  Nothing akin to the George Street climb to be sure but enough of an incline to make you have to work a little at race's end.  

Snow is in the forecast today for those of us here in the State of Concrete Gardens but its arrival is not anticipated until this afternoon.  So while it shall be cold this morning it shall also be clear.  The streets of New Brunswick - while filled with the pitter-patter of runners' feet - will be free from precipitation.  As it should be.  For when someone is doing a genuinely good thing - such as that which the RU Recreation Department is doing today for needy children - it is well-appreciated when Mother Nature cuts them some slack and lends a helping hand.  

I reckon that even she appreciates how good one feels when one takes a moment to lend a hand.  

-AK         

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