08 April 2009

On the Road Again

It’s funny how a part of your life can slip away without you noticing. I spent the last two days at a company conference and it occurred to me that I hadn’t spent a night away from home since the fateful Wineglass Tragedy. For one who’s spent most of my life travelling frequently, that was a surprise. I’ve enjoyed the peacefulness, but wanderlust is an undeniable part of my being. Getting back on the road was another step on the return to normalcy, and like the other steps, it felt good.

Something I love about running is that you can do it anywhere, and by doing it you gain a low-speed, street-level view of the places you visit, a view you can’t get from the car or the hotel or the business lunch. My trip this week was a short jaunt to southeastern Connecticut – certainly no exotic locale, and between the conference and the heavy rain I had but one opportunity to hit the road, yet popping in a run in a place I’d not previously run added a new blotch to my mental map of ‘known territory’.

Every place has its character. Even when covered with strip malls, it shows through the cracks, but only when you’re close enough to look, and getting that run in gets you that close. Next time you need a topic to ponder while pounding out the miles, think of all the places you’ve run. Even in your own area, think of the streets you know that are a mystery to all but those who live there. After a while you become, in effect, master of your world. With familiarity, comes comfort.

In 1995 I completed the adventure of hiking all of the 4,000 foot summits in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a feat which earns you a nice embroidered patch emblazoned with a ‘4000’ from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 4000-Footer Club. One of the most satisfying aspects of the endeavor is the feeling of standing on a summit, looking out at the expanse of forested lumps spread before you, and knowing where you are, feeling at home. Rooted. This turf is in me, and I’m part of this turf. In our mobile, move-at-the-drop-of-a-hat society, people miss this feeling. I’m not sure they realize they miss it, but I’m convinced they do.

The same phenomenon works professionally. Whether the economy is hot or cold, I’m not a proponent of the 2-year job hopper lifestyle. Nobody can afford to grow staid and complacent, but it’s healthy to have professional roots. And there are side benefits: business relationships grow, and you never know what you’ll find. I’ve been with my company for over a decade, so aside from the real work accomplished, this conference has become a reunion, with any severity melting into an extended family catch-up session. In that environment I had the joy this week of learning that several of my clients are in fact avid runners. I may not golf, but nothing saying we can’t close business at the 9th mile instead of the 9th hole. A business outing that doesn’t need a credit card.

Ah, yes, on the road again. It’s good to be back out there.

And speaking of the road, it’s getting friendlier. While Mr. Big Toe may never truly work right, he’s working well enough to not impede my vice. And his affiliated calf, to date the focus of late of my recovery discomfort, is on the mend. Yesterday’s jaunt in Connecticut felt better than any previous, and on today’s brief outing, it almost felt strong. Lady Healer has been smart and, knowing that my course of PT is intended not just to fix the foot but to bring me back to full functionality, she’s been working my ankle and calf. She imparts good pain, and I repay with bad jokes.

Change of topic: I don’t know when the term “shout out” went mainstream., but this odd niche phrase has suddenly exploded into the everywhere space. Not being a creature of fad, I’ve refused to use it until I verified that it is not an agent of the Twits with nothing better to do than Twitter. But since Wiki confirms that’s not the case, I’ll offer up one here.

So, a shout out to my Irish colleague Dermot’s other half Miriam (that being Dermot of the Second Descent blog, the name inspired by my Second Lap, though his follows a sport far wetter). Miriam just completed her first marathon, in style, in Paris. If you’re going to start, why not start in a place like that? To think, I thought it was cool to race toward the huge monument in Buffalo’s Delaware Square to finish a marathon. How about racing toward the Arc de Triomphe? Now that’s cool. And cooler still is to have a club that posts a great article and a great picture like this. And even cooler still is to have a last name that by definition works in a marathon story. Way to go, Miriam, in breaking through the Wall, and can we all come with you to Paris next year?

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