Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Night Unlike Any Other

I spent Wednesday night in one of my favorite places - Westfield.  Friends, too many for me to name (and sadly at this point in my existence far too many names for me to ever hope to remember), called it home a lifetime ago when I was matriculating my way through high school at Wardlaw-Hartridge.  It is a town for which I have always had a particular fondness.  Truth be told, I spend very little time in it, much to the relief of its residents.  In a good year, I might be there on two or three separate occasions.  More often than not, it is just one. 

And for the past five Julys that one has been the Downtown Westfield 5K.  It is held annually on a Wednesday night in late July.  Thus far, with the exception of the 2013 edition, the rule regarding the weather for this event appears to require a marriage of heat and extreme humidity.  This year's race was no different.  Thunderstorms were in the forecast and while they held off until I was halfway home their presence in the area was felt.  Happiness is not necessarily running in air so thick that you can cut it with a chainsaw.  I never know for certain where the line is drawn between "healthy" and "unhealthy" air quality.  However as a betting man, I would wager we had at least a toe on the wrong side of that line Wednesday night. 

It takes a special kind of evening to make one feel as if the weather conditions in which the Belmar Five Mile Run was contested were something akin to a crisp October morning.  Wednesday night was just such an evening.  The experience was not unlike what it would feel like running inside a sweaty sock...with the wearer's foot still inside and with his toes jabbing you in the face. 

But in spite of the really tough conditions it was - as it always is - one hell of a good time.  The people of Westfield come out in force to support this race.  As a "ham and egger" who runs for the feeling of satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a task and not for first place (or for eight hundred and first place for that matter), it exceeds my limited ability to put into words the feeling associated with heading towards the finish line and seeing hundreds of people standing on the sidewalks and in driveways on either side of the street cheering as if every person who runs past them is their own family member or friend. 

A terrific evening spent in a terrific town.  I know not for how long my body shall permit me to run and I know not for how long the Downtown Westfield Corporation shall put on its Midsummer Night's Dream but for as long as I am able and they are willing I shall spend a Wednesday night in July right where I spent this Wednesday night...

....standing on East Broad Street looking up at the marquee of the Rialto Theatre.  And being happy that I am there to do so.


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