Monday, June 15, 2009

More History

I’ve been fighting a cold the last few days. I’m just getting the early symptoms-excessive tiredness, aches and pains, mild cough-but it feels like it could go either way at this point. I should know by tomorrow whether I’ll be able to work around the sickness or take a few days off to heal. Runners never like to take days off, even when they know that to do so is to give the body an opportunity to rest and rebuild. For example, I’ve been listening to Dean Karnazes read his latest book 50/50 (Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!) on my I-Pod during runs. I figure if this guy can run 1,300 miles in less than two months on no sleep and with bleeding blisters and bad sinus infections, the least I can do is motor through a bad cold without bitching and moaning too much.

I wasn’t always this committed. In fact, I wasn’t always a runner. I started running seriously a year and a half before the Buffalo Marathon as a way to recover from some pretty bad lifestyle choices I made while attending College in the Bronx in the mid-late 1980s. Living in the Bronx in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the rough equivalent of being an extra in a post-apocalyptic movie like Road Warrior or Escape from New York, except that everyone was hopped up on crack and the guns were firing real bullets. The Bronx had the dubious distinction of being ground zero for the crack epidemic and the birth of hip hop, which both occurred within the same five year period. I arrived at Fordham University in the fall of 1985 as a fairly sheltered suburban kid whose idea of a big night out consisted of doing doughnuts in my friend’s Chevy Nova on someone’s front lawn, while buzzed on a six pack of Piels that I’d managed to steal from my father’s liquor cabinet.

Naturally, I took one look at the anarchy of Bronx street life and immediately lost my mind. It was complete sensory overload and I loved it. The smells, the danger, the colors of Fordham Road, the street hustlers, hookers and junkies; it was the complete antithesis of every bit of boring suburban inanity had seen up to that point in my life. The next few years passed in a bit of a blur that I vaguely remember unfolding in the following manner: I did every drug I could lay my hands on and washed it all down with gallons of cheap beer. I failed out of college, dodged bullets, ran from the cops and developed an unhealthy affinity for cocaine. Inevitably, I crashed and burned. Hard.

Running was the way back to reality. It cost nothing, which was great because I had no money, and it got me outside away from my friends who were struggling with their own issues. Next up: The First Run

Week in Progress:
Sunday: 6 Fast
Monday: 5 Easy

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