Monday, January 02, 2006

Dropped Another Ball

It's easy to think that a four mile foot race at midnight is a fun thing when you're in a warm sports shop with a few beers in you.

Don't ever let this happen to you. But if it does, see you out there next year.

Such were the circumstances that found me in New York City at midnight a few days ago running the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. It was dark, wet and cold so why they named it emerald nuts which are green when something blue would have been more appropriate is beyond me. But there I was, cursing that second lager and the alluring promotion for the race.

First order of business was to kill the two hours between when we got into town and the start of the race. This meant coffee. We were at 72nd and 5th in New York City so the assumption was you could close your eyes, extend your arm and point a finger and you'd risk putting the eye out on a Starbucks sign somewhere. This is a very ritzy part of Manhattan with tony apartments that I could move into in a heartbeat if I sold the county I live in to Sudanese slave traders. High rollers, movers and shakers live here. People that are highly motivated in life and jump out of bed every morning of their own volition and keep up a frenetic pace of life and must be space aliens because they are doing it all without the benefit of coffee! There was not a single instance of ground bean being introduced to hot flowing water until we hit freaking 81st and Third! Now, when you are in a five thousand person run in the park and are wandering around in sneakers, tights and have a large paper number pinned to your chest, you kind of fit in. If, on the other hand you are in a Seven Eleven fifteen blocks from any race, dressed the same and are trying to fish money out of a concealed pocket so far removed from the surface of your clothing that it looks like you are trying to pull something sinister out of your ass...

Oh, and this particular 7-11 is a favorite stopping point for the NYPD so go ahead and fish your mad money out next to Officer Torres and try to look natural about it.

Thanks for being a runner and getting it, officer.

You get to field questions too. Like: "Are you running? In the race? In Central Park? At midnight?"

Madam, if you've strung this all together, how hard would it have been for you to make that last little conclusive jump?

I've got black tights, black shorts on, a bright yellow racing jacket trimmed with black and a large racing number pinned on it.

"Are you running in a race?"

Nice try sir, but no. I'm a hybrid taxi.

The race went off at midnight. There were police helicopters circling the city all night to ensure that nothing would get out of hand and New Jersey wouldn't call the landlord to complain about the noise like they did last year. There was screaming and yelling and they fired the starter's gun at midnight just when the fireworks started exploding in the sky.

We all ran like hell.

Now I know what the Syrian army is going to feel like if Damascus pisses Condoleeza Rice off one more time.

The crowds were wonderful. Supportive and cheering us on and giving us high fives and so drunk off their ass that some of them were seen doing the same for the number 3 uptown local several hours later.
What the hell, runners, horse drawn carriage rides, hey let's go cheer on late diners at Tavern on the Green. We got a bottle left.

There's nothing like the thrill of a midnight run to get your blood circulating and warming you up all over. It's the second greatest thrill.

The first was of course, finding the warm charter bus parked on 66th an hour before pickup.

Happy New Year.

Bunny on.

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