Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paying attention

So. I almost died today, but I didn't.
Uh oh, now I spoiled the story, but only if you aren't paying attention.

That could be the case. Many years ago, I was on a double date with a couple who had just gotten married about a year before. Because one of us, I forget who, had been out of the country and hadn't seen LOVE STORY we rented it. We watched it over popcorn and pizza and beer. Very sad.

We all go to take the movie back on our way to get some ice cream. Just as I am sliding the black rectangle down the chute, the new husband says

"I can't believe she dies at the end."

His lovely, and she was lovely, looks at him for a moment and then says

"They tell you she is going to die at the beginning of the movie."

"No, they don't" he said, making that squinched 'what are you, stupid?" look.

I would relate the number of yes, they [U]do[/U]s and no,they [U]don't[/U]s here, but it would take hours because that is how long they argued. Even with we, the other two, chiming in with "Yes, it's also the first line in the book!!! 'What can you say about a girl who dies?... ."

Anyway, I had chocolate and coffee on a waffle cone with my companion while they drove back to the movie rental place. They aren't married anymore.

So this morning I got to the race, I got my number, I stretched some and then stretched some more, I watched other stretchers stretch and listened to a great band Better Off Dead a band named for another movie and really, really good, rock out. Even in the cold, (47F) they had us all moving.

OH, and then 6000 or so of us did a lap of the park.

Now hear this: Without even trying, not even paying attention as it were, --no kidding, I was just putting my feet down and listening to my right leg, I set a new personal record for the five mile: 47:20. AND my right leg made no complaints, none.

Well, okay, a little yelp after the race, but it and me are going to be fine.

After the race all 6000 wet people lined up at three (count'em -- three) lines of tables for water bottles from our sponsor Poland Spring, apples and bagels. I got a piece of dry bagel stuck in the back of my mouth and for a terrifying sixteen seconds, could not get it out.

"Wow, I said, "I could have choked right here and missed the marathon."

But I didn't and I told you that right from the get-go.

Joe(Um... this is a reflection of my state of mind. Go about your lives now.)Nation

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How did English miss this word?

Neil's mom asked Anu Garg if there was a word in English for a parent who has lost a child. Are you familiar with Anu? Google the name and discover a person who loves words.

Strangely, oddly, sadly I think, there is no word, no name, no honorific, no title, no label or tag in English for a parent who has lost a child.

I find myself using a euphemism even asking the question, I do not say 'a parent whose child has died', I say 'lost a child' which could be just a overbusy soccer mom losing sight of her two boys at the mall and has nothing remotely to do with the incredible tragedy of a child's death.

Suppose we create a word, something that means monumentally heartbroken, not permanently, we know that time will bring some healing, but shouldn't we have several words?

One for the parents whose baby, barely born, dies. They should have a word.

Another for the parents of the teenager, who wasn't even supposed to be in the car that hit the tree out on Highway 9W, last Saturday night.

Shouldn't there be a word for the parent whose child of nineteen was seen at the movie theatre parking lot eight years ago and hasn't been heard from since?

And shouldn't there be a word that solely refers to a mother or a father who have rushed to their child as they lie dying in the street right out in front of their home? ('Oh, poppie, I hurt' he said and sighed his last breath.)

And I know there are Gold Star Mothers, but as one of said to Anu, "Everyone in the family is hurt and hurting." What is wrong with English that through all the centuries none of it's speakers have coined a word to be worn by parents full of grief and grace?

When we read out the names of the dead from our wars and we ask the mothers and the fathers of the fallen to rise and accept our deepest condolences, should we not have some word of honor and respect for them in their darkest sorrow?

Joe(for Neil's mom and all the others)Nation

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

He does go on.

Obsessive???? Who have you been talking to?

Has someone told you that I wear my running shorts to bed and sleep with my jersey under my pillow? ( I would wear my shoes as well but certain people have made objections.) But that's not obsessive, that's just having a primed sense of being prepared. Or as a friend of mine says "Being pre-prepared."

Or did someone report that I asked at the hotel desk for a copy of the running course map and when presented with one which showed a four and half mile circle through the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson College said "What? That's it?" (Yes, we went to a three day wedding. Yes, I ran every day of it and then met George for a run on the Monday morning after....) but that not obsessive, that enthusiastic.

I suppose some people have spouted off about what I pack in my suitcase when we are going to Florida. I pack the non-essential stuff, underwear, dress shirt and summer weight suit, shaving gear, cameras, regular shorts and tee-shirts. In my carry-on I carry my shoes and running shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen and jersey. That way when they lose my luggage I can still have a run down the beach at sunrise. But that's not obsessive, that shows a reasonable response to a likely future scenario. I like to fly wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt and loafers (for the frigging security checks.) What am I supposed to do when they lose the bag? Run in my jeans and loafers?

Okay, so maybe that one time, when I didn't really NEED to run in the airport to catch a plane or anything, I did spend about a hour jogging up and down the long corridor, but that was just practice in case I ever DO need to run to Gate 84. (It's about a quarter of a mile and my best interval was a 1:48. I could have done better but the frigging baby buggies and kids were everywhere.)(AND I was wearing jeans and loafers.) But that's not obsessive, that's uh, good use of available time for practice.

And now that I do not have to get up every morning at four I am enjoying sleeping in, thank you very much. I still wake up, but now I roll over and dream that I am running in the early morning fog..... A lone biker zips me past in the nearly perfect silence, only the sound of my feet and breathing, the murmurs of the waking morning breeze in the leaves and the singular call of a distant bird create this small universe. The thoughts in my head are cast aside as my eyes drift upward to gaze at the streetlights at the top of the long hill. At the crest a long shadow of a runner appears in front of me, striding out before me down the other side. It takes me a moment to recognize the shape and the rhythm of the form.

Joe(Holy Cow.. is that me?)Nation

Monday, October 22, 2007

Too Fast to Ever Slow Down

Back in the dark, dark, dark ages of computers (I'm talking Tandy 100 here.) we had a game called Moonshot, or maybe Spaceshot, I can't remember exactly. There were no graphics, just lines of text which gave you a number of choices to make. The object of the game was to take the values you were given for fuel, speed and distance to the moon and combine them to take off from the earth, fly to the moon and then use you retro-rockets to make a soft landing.
If you took off too fast, you used too much fuel and couldn't slow down enough to avoid crash landing. If you took off too slow, you landed in the Atlantic, or, if you just barely made it out of the earth's gravitational pull, the game would inform you that you would reach the moon in 157 years or so. The game changed the weight of the ship and it's cargo at the start of every game.
I'm telling you all this because that is the game I am now playing in my head. At what speed do I run the first miles?
Too fast and I might not have enough 'fuel' to get to the finish. Too slow and I will be out on the course for six and half hours.
The road in Brooklyn is pretty flat, but I have been warned about "banking extra miles in the first half." (What?) and I think I will need to have a lot left to push beyond the 22, 23 mileposts. (My crew is meeting me at the 23 which is in the middle of the hill on Fifth Ave.)
Others have told me, quote "Shit, if you make it past the Madison Ave bridge there is no way anything's going to stop you." One guy told me he remembered seeing the trees of Marcus Garvey Park, that's at about the 22 mile point, and then he said "I just floated along to the end, I didn't care what my time was." (Liar) "The crowds just lifted me up."
Right now I'm thinking about keeping it to about eleven minute miles. I finish in about five hours (maybe better if I feel really good at the twenty miles point) and it will have been a fine day.
One thing I do not have to contend with is retro-rockets.
They were always the touchiest part of SpaceShot.
From where I stand at the moment slowing down will not be a problem 12 days from now.
Joe(Watch out!! Oh, no, he's running too fast to stop!!! )Nation

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is the Fourteen Day Forecast??

Two weeks to go and I am champing at the bit.
I am also having the weirdest little bouts of paranoia?
I stepped on a cat toy.

Ow, did I hurt something. Is is permanent????

Everything I eat is turning to fat.
My shoes are 1)too big 2) too small (Check the time of day.)

I am/am not carrying my cellphone.

Why do we all have to run together? Why can't we just do a marathon in maybe a small group of ten say and then call in the results. They do that sort of thing in golf all the time. Someone gets a hole-in-one, all it takes is one corroborating witness to make it official. (maybe two, I don't really know.) But I think I could go run the 26 miles plus a little more next Sunday instead of the Sunday after. Think of the money they would save on traffic control.

I am/am not taking the subway to the buses.

I am/am not taking a car service to the buses.

Everyone I know is going to be at 106th Street and Fifth Ave.
There will be no one @ 106th and Fifth Ave. It will be deserted by the time I get there.

Why can't we have a fourteen day weather forecast? All this money spent on going to the MOON and we can't tell what the weather will be on Nov 4th? For pity's sake, scientists, get with it!!
Oh, and get with before next Friday when I can have a ten day forecast.

What if it snows??

What if it rains and I am carrying my cellphone??

The 5 mile Marathon warm-up is next Sunday. They use it to test the timing devices and such. The trailers (four big ones) were being eased into the Park past the Tavern on the Green last Friday. A whole village of stuff is set up at the finish, for the television networks, for the Road Runner's offices (they basically live in the Park for a week or so.)

In the warm-up we will do one shortened lap of the Park and finish (going up the frigging three hills to the finish) just like on Marathon day. Two years ago I was lined up with the 12 minute milers hoping I could finish the five miles. Two very speedy looking guys were lined up next to me and I heard them talking about wanting to start way in the back of these people so that they wouldn't get stepped on or otherwise hurt one week before the race.

Now I know what they were talking about. I am going to start the warm-up WAAAAY in the back and trot around the course like the winner of the Working Dogs at the Westminster.

What should I pack in my baggage bag? A peanut butter sandwich? That would taste good after a five hour run. Hmmm. And something to drink... no there will be stuff to drink.

Okay, get a hold of yourself.

Settle down.

Be calm.

Everything is in place.

Relax. Relax, Relax.

Joe(wait a minute.... is that another cat toy over there!!!!)Nation