Time Flies

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I ran in a local 5 miler yesterday.  This was the 43rd running of the race making it the granddaddy of ’em all  in the county.  You can do the math if you’re interested in knowing exactly when it all began.

It was during the early days of the running boom what ever that means.  Me?  I’ve been running since I was in the 4th grade.  We don’t need to do that math.

I used to kill this race.  Now it kills me.  But to the title.

First, the course…Start/Finish is on North Queen Street.  Go right on West Lemon for one block, go right on North Duke all the way to Chesapeake Street, go right, then left to enter the County park. or as the locals refer to it, County Park.  Once you become a local you don’t need to modify landmarks or places with the word the.  Everyone knows what you mean.

Run through County Park and go left back onto Duke Street. Instead of proceeding all the way to Lemon you chop off a block and go left on to West Walnut to Queen and then you see the Start/Finish line a couple of blocks ahead.

A side note here, our town dates to pre-revolutionary times so streets have royalty sounding names like Duke, King, Prince and Queen further subdivided by whether they run east/west/ north or south.

You have your North Queen, South Queen, East King and West King among many others.  We also in this interesting mix have a Lime Street and a Lemon Street.  You can actually stand on the corner of Lemon and Lime.

Further the street signs have been abbreviated thusly like N. Queen, W. King and of course S. Lime which reads S Lime Street.  That’s all I got in the roadway department.

Back to the 5 miler.  I’ve reached the back marker phase of my running career.  I know it, you know it and so what anymore.

I started either dead last or next to dead last.  Pro tip – If you wait for the starting corral to fill up the porta john lines disappear since all your fellow runners rush to the middle of the street for a good place on the starting grid.   This ain’t F-1 or NASCAR.  It don’t matter.

The horn goes off and I walk the 100 or so yards to the start line before I start my watch.  The front markers are sprinting their behinds off and I’m running a good  clip for me anyway up Queen to Lemon and on to Duke.  Here comes the title reference.

As I’m approaching what I know is the one mile marker and clock I look to right where it oughta be and it’s not there!  Did the organizers not have a budget for course clocks?

I file that away and continue up Duke where off to my left I see a guy walking and carrying what seems to the clock that was supposed to be at mile one.  I guess he figured since he had to pull double clock duty he yanked the clock off the tripod and trundled up to where the 4 mile mark is coming back.

Keen eyed readers will note that above I mentioned the course cuts one block off the return so one mile and four miles are not in the exact same place.  Hence, the one mile clock serves both one and four miles.

As I’m running and I see the clock being hand carried upside down I make out 10:44 as the seconds keep ticking away.  Suddenly I have this ” Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” moment.

I am running faster than the clock is physically moving.  Soon I’m even with it and just as quickly I’m passed it leaving time in my wake.  Picture that Dali painting of the melting clock.  Saucony meets surrealism.  I am not running faster than the speed of sound  or light.  I am outrunning time itself.

I continue up Duke, go right on Chesapeake, go left into the winding roadway of the park cutting all the tangents I can find and realizing that tangent running is probably not taught in school anymore but that’s one class I passed.

I run back up Duke and eventually I find the one/four mile clock right where it’s supposed to be.  I’m also toast at this point but I’m passing some people and some people are passing me.

I have found in a marathon when you are bringing up the rear you make a lot of friends who are just as slow as you are.  Everyone talks, jokes, laughs and encourages each other.

Sadly, now everyone except me and maybe two other people are not wearing ear buds. Everyone else is and they can’t hear anything.  Conversation is not longer a part of group runs.  One guy had a speaker in his backpack and was his own little running/walking jukebox.  Maybe he couldn’t find his buds.  I forget what song he was playing.

I go left on Walnut, left on Queen, it’s my version of Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.

I cross the finish line and grab a water.  There is a fenced in beer garden set up and normally your entry would be guaranteed by virtue of your: 1- wearing running gear,      2- sweating like a racehorse, 3- panting like a cheetah and 4 – your race bib.

But if you don’t have your Real ID or something similar you are turned away.  Fine.  Just fine.

I grab a bag of chips and leave.

Time is on my side anyway.

 

 

An Early Saturday Morning Where I Run a 5K

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The title sets up the piece pretty perfectly I must say so I’ll cut right to the chase.

Last Saturday morning I drive about 8 miles to a local retirement community where a local service club is holding a 5K race to benefit local charities. A good cause and it’s good weather and it’s really good to be racing again.

Racing is a relative term here as my racing days are well behind me but it’s nice to see runners of all ages out in the Saturday morning sunshine getting ready to do their best.

I’m standing in a porta potty line or as spell check would have you believe a sorta potty line which when you think about it these items are sorta potties and having been a participant in road races for many years these sorta ports have come a long way.

A quick digression but it’s worth it. One year I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon and somewhere around mile something there is a construction site somewhere along the route where the marathon organizers have placed a set of porta johns to keep a couple of hundred runners from doing their respective businesses on the street in someone’s neighborhood.

I come up on the johns where the lines are long. Someone has forced open a gate on the construction site fence liberating the site’s access to the portable toilets. Maybe it was a runner, maybe not. I’ll only say the extra seats came in handy.

I get in one of the lines where I watch people nervously checking their watches to see how much time they are losing while they stand in line waiting to do what they gotta do.

Me – It don’t matter. Ok, here’ s the point of my literary detour.

The lines as I have noted are long. There is a guy several spots ahead of me waiting to use said portable toilet. A woman announces to no one and every one in a voice loud enough for all around us to hear and she’s quite clear what her point is.

She says to the guy, “Do you have to pee because it that’s all you gotta do there’s a wall over there where you can relieve yourself.” ” We all have to sit down.” And sure enough there is a wall and it’s currently in use by about six men relieving themselves in public because this is a marathon and really no one cares.

There is a round of applause from the woman’s fellow women runners congratulating her on her foresight, her chutzpah and her balls.

I suppose we could all be cited for urinating in public but the only public in the area is us and we don’t care. We all gotta go.

I take the obvious hint, find a spot on the wall, do my business and I”m on my way. I should add the guy stepped out of line and took advantage of the wall too. And we’re both back to the marathon which is already in progress.

Back to the local 5K where I’m in line and a couple of hotshot college cross country runners call over to one of their friends who is in line ahead of me telling him to hurry up ( my sentiments exactly) because they are off on a 2 mile warm up ( which is not my sentiment exactly).

For me the 5K breaks down like this: Mile one -warm up, mile two – race or run faster and mile three – cool down.

The speedy boys do their warm up, smoke every one in the 5K and are later seen running a cool down mile or two making their 5K Saturday morning distance about 6 miles. Me – I only paid to run 3.1.

There is one guy who wins the 80+ plus division as he is 90 and is the only participant registered who ran between 80 and whatever the upper limit is as specified by the plus sign. He gets a nice hand as he picks up his medal.

I hang around to see the other award/age group/male/female winners and it’s a nice touch as the organizers decided to go four deep in every category.

It was an early Saturday morning where I ran a 5K.

Stupid Things I See While Running

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Stupid thing # 1 – I’m out on a three miler. I pass a couple arguing over who is going to mow the lawn while the gas powered mower is running. I had seen this coming as I approached the house.

The wife is mowing the lawn.

Husband is sitting on the front steps hurriedly putting on shoes as though he was supposed to mow the lawn but fell asleep or something.

Wife spite mows the lawn.

Husband hustles to mower where he and wife begin to argue. I can’t catch any of the conversation/argument because the lawn mower is running spewing fumes and noise as though it wants to have a say in who wins the day and the grand prize of mowing the lawn.

Most of the lawns in my neighborhood are the size of your living room. Push mowers, electric or battery mowers would do the job just fine but we seem to addicted to making noise and waking up neighbors when we mow.

I keep running and never catch the end of the fight.

Stupid two – I’m running loops at a local park and part of the loop takes me through parking lot. The loop is only 3/4 of a mile so I circle at a fairly regular and uptempo pace.

I see a white Mercedes in the parking lot. As I approach I can see the windows are all closed ( tinted of course) and the engine is running.

As I approach the car and prepare to swing around it I notice a woman, not picking on females, men can be just as stupid.

She is standing outside the car smoking a cigarette while the car’s engine is running and presumably the air conditioning in said auto is running.

Wouldn’t want to get the smell of tobacco in the fine hand crafted leather upholstery now would we?

I flash her a dirty look as I run by but I doubt she senses my aggravation and so I let my anger pass as I head around for another trip around the park.

The next time I’m at her location she and her car are gone.

Let’s Pretend

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Let’s pretend it’s not summer. Let pretend it’s not July and spend 23 hours a day in air conditioning. Let’s go from an air conditioned house to and air conditioned car to an air conditioned office back to the car and then back home. And having spent maybe 10 minutes in outside summer air complain about how hot it is.

Let’s pretend our air conditioning units don’t toss more hot air out in the hot air and then let’s use our clothes dryers to spew more heat out through the vent on the side of the house.

I’m up to here, puts hand at neck, with people complaining about the heat.

I’m tired of the local teevee weatherman or weatherman telling me how miserable I should feel because it’s hot and humid.

I like the heat. I love July.

Hot non air conditioned days remind me of being a kid when everything I wanted was free and so was I.

Maybe that’s the real reason I dislike air conditioning.

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V- Something Day with No Parade

First of all, I know I’ve been away for a while but why can’t I get a proper font size for my title?

In any case, the worst seems to be over for many us. The rest of the world is hosed until I don’t know when this virus burns itself out or we get shots in 5 billion more arms.

So we pat ourselves on the back and start dipping our toes back into society saying maybe all the grief and pain, not to mention all the deaths while not worth it were sorta necessary – I don’t know and those who fought shutdowns and masks and vaccines say why did we need shutdowns and masks and vaccines anyway because in the end it doesn’t really seem to have mattered.

It does to those who lost someone.

So there was no clock to run out, no 4th quarter game clock to expire, no cheering we’re number one, no V-E Parade, no V-J day, no V- over virus celebration. It ends, if you choose to believe it’s ending with a slow fade to grey, no even black over which the credits would roll.

No trophy, no awards, no cash prizes although if I knew someone was offering me a million bucks to get vaccinated I would have held out. Nope, not for a second.

All we had to do was be smart and not be stupid which apparently was a tall order for some people.

I don’t feel like cheering. I don’t feel like celebrating and i don’t feel like throwing a party because it’s not over. sometimes I don’t feel like anything.

That’s what I would like to get back to…feeling something, anything.

Cue Stephen Sondheim – ” Being Alive.”

Still, I don’t think a parade is warranted or needed. Just a quiet, sigh, a thank you and let’s move on if we ever can really move on.

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What if…? And This Is a Great Big what If….

What if there was a book that had pictures and words with every thing you had ever done, seen, smelled, ate, every person you ever made laugh, cry, smile, hate you, love you, every song you ever heard or sang, every meal you ever ate, every good or bad or kind or despicable thought you ever had right from the exact time you were born and opened your eyes what if your exact baby brain thoughts were recorded and what were they and where did they go and what did you do with them if you ever did anything with them and what thoughts and emotions did you have before you had words to express yourself and when did you decide this or that was for me and I don’t like this or that or you or yourself even and why did you fall for someone you still can’t get over and why did you make that one, make that two, make that three big mistakes where you did this or that and it turned out be the wrong thing to do or say yet again and what if you were sorry and you had broken more things that you could ever begin to fix and what if I’m sorry was all you had to offer and it wasn’t enough ?

What if – Huh?

Ideas and How I Get Them OR Sister Golden Hair Surprise

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Something hits me and boom I write it down on a scrap of paper and stick it in my pocket. After about a week of stuffing scraps of paper in my pocket I might or might not depending my mood decide to add some flesh to those one or two word ideas and zap them right into my laptop and this electronic page.

I might be sitting at a traffic light and not on my phone like the guy in front of me, the guy behind me, the guy in the car to my left and maybe the guy in the Audi two cars back.

Geez – No one has an attention span to pay attention to their surroundings for 45 seconds while they sit at the corner of Lemon and Lime waiting for the light to change.

Minds have to always be busy, always engaged and always never in neutral. Some minds anyway.

I know someone who plops a laptop on his or her lap, turns on the tv and engages the caption mode and then opens a third device in the manner of a phone so there are three mind distracting distractions all going on at the same time.

I read the newspaper one page at a time with my only distraction being a cup of coffee and maybe a clif bar or a bagel. Bagels do not need wi-fi or bluetooth. In France they call wi-fi wee-fee.

Oh, yeah, back to ideas.

So, I’m at a red light and a thought hits me and I’ll write it down. The car radio is 98 percent busted so it only picks up stations that I’m pretty much within sight of. A song plays, strikes a chord ( heh heh) and I write down the title to remind myself to learn how to play it later like Sister Golden Hair Surprise.

It’s a pretty clever song that has no pretensions about being high art. You want a catchy tune? Bingo.

Ideas, they come and go.

Inspiration comes in many forms and colors and flavors and temperatures.

There Is Enough Music To Go Around

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I play in a band and for years I was the only guitar player. Not that I was anything special but that’s the way it was.

We had a change of leadership and the guy who used to sub for me was added to the lineup meaning there were now two guitar players where there used to be only one.

Initially, I was more than a little outraged but as time went on I became more comfortable with the idea of the two of us sharing the load and maybe playing different inversions of the same chord. It was gonna be alright.

Then it hit me.

See title above.

Things I Wish You Would Stop Posting on Facebook

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And so here we are again with a full load of angst, weariness and fed upness which as we all know leads to some of my best work. Critics agree!

Regarding Facebook –

I don’t want to see pictures of the omelette you had at the creperie with the French sounding name otherwise how could you call yourself a creperie?

That also goes for the beef stew you made during lockdown because you

A – Re-discovered your love of cooking,

B – Found a recipe you thought you would make or

C – You decided to become adventurous in the kitchen.

No pictures of your enchiladas from Ted’s Taco Shack.

I don’t care what or where you eat.

Yes, your niece is cute. So is mine but you don’t see pictures of her on my page or wall do you? How can you have a wall on a page anyway?

I don’t care about your “Leave it To Beaver” memories or what was so great about growing up in the 60’s.

Please keep obscure British band references to yourself as no one really gets them anyway.

To Facebook, I’m talking to you – No more ads about guns, patriots, second amendment rights, Trump flags, mugs, T-shirts, hats, stuffed animals, bumper stickers, posters, shot glasses, holsters, ties, pen and pencil sets or lawn signs.

The election was over months ago. Joe won and what’s his name lost. Let’s move on shall we?

No more what would your name be if you added a zxy instead of the first three letters of your last name or any variation of what your name would be if it was the name of the last dessert you at minus the first name of your next door neighbor.

Don’t suggest anything for me based on my random and incoherent searches unless you can actually find my forst girlfriend form 8th grade.

I don’t want to join any groups that have to do with country music, balalaikas, Vintage Mustangs, The Detroit Tigers baseball team for 1968, knitting, gardening organically or not and no ads for comfortable shoes because I can’t even imagine how you came up with that one.

In short, if i see much more of the above it’s adios to FB and hello to no more social media seeing as it’s hardly become a force for any kind of social good.

You have been logged out.

I Was Thinking About This OR This Made Me Think About June, 1967.

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I got an email the other day which is an event in itself since no one tends to communicate via that particular form of electronic communication anymore. They either text or stay silent.

So an email, any kind is an event in and of itself.

I signed up with my local medical -industrial complex to open a ” My” account which lets me see all of my past medical maladies and mistakes in one place. It also gives the doctor corporation free rein to remind me of appointments via text and email. Not or. Both, all the time which gets really annoying because I’m getting reminders of my appointment while I’m driving on my way to my appointment.

I suppose no shows cost the company money and so I get reminded to death not to miss my appointment at the appointed time and has anything changed since my last appointment because we want to know now so we don’t waste office time trying to replicate redundant information.

There is a dark joke here about email reminders and death I suppose. Help yourself.

In the long run, no one reads anything and no one listens and we end up wasting MY time because I have repeat everything I have previously entered into the “MY” account.

I got an email/text the other day reminding me I owed $1.43 and I needed to pay promptly except upon further review as the say in the NFL, the bill wasn’t due for three weeks.

I’m way off track here but my wheels are turning so I’ll head back to where I thought I was going when I logged in or logged on whichever is correct.

I get an email from a fella who is the class representative for my HS class of 1967 and there are about 80 other names in the send to line meaning there are about 80 other guys all my age and I know this for a fact since we all graduated in June of 1967.

I have no idea how many of us graduated that day on the practice football field. We didn’t have a stadium or a real field. We played on Sundays at a local borrowed HS field. Well, they, not me since I was below undersized when it came to football which as it turns out was a blessing in disguise. I have no facts back up my premise but I’m pretty sure that football was not in the original deck I was dealt.

The email from my class rep details a need for money for our alma mater, as all of these messages do. It’s hard to feel or remember anything about a place I sometimes hated, where I often went through the motions and barely expended any academic effort.

Besides, I left there over 50 years ago but I suppose my four years there gave me some sort of foundation for thinking clearly, thinking for myself and also thinking about others. So, ok, there is a whisper of sentimental attachment for the place I spent my wonder years.

My class rep details his life since that fateful day in June of 1967 when we donned those plastic/nylon graduation gowns and entered the real world.

He went to XYZ State, then law school, then worked for someone and then someone else, the company was sold three times and he ended up retiring from somewhere else and so here we are or so here he is.

He didn’t brag, just wrote in polite and humble lawyerese and asked us to reply with what we’ve all done in the intervening half century. One guy writes back, hits reply all and so now we all know he taught at Ohio State and some other football factory school. Retired grandkids and so on. He is retired, not his grandkids. I like to have fun with words and punctuation.

I reply to my rep only and here’s what I was aiming for when I clicked log in or on 15 minutes ago.

I highlight the highlights, useless History degree, skip the lowlights, getting fired, broken hearted, near bankruptcy, car accidents and so on. I don’t brag but I make myself look good in a modest way.

My point is it’s hard, nearly impossible to sum up your life in a few short paragraphs. Someone else does that in your obituary.

This past year has had me thinking about the things I did right, wrong and might have been questionable although at the time the questionable actions seemed appropriate.

More than the last year with all of it’s fits, starts and misgivings I suppose that as someone who graduated from HS more than 50 years ago I’m at the age where one starts to re-evaluate one’s last 50 years.

It’s certainly not to contemplate one’s next 50 years.

You do what you can I suppose. I do what I can.

And to what end is all the rethinking, re-evaluating and regretting? I’ve run out of re-something words. Add yours at you’re own peril.

Send me an email.