Friday, November 26, 2010

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - Third Leg

Start: 5:00PM

At this point, the challenge had become, “refuel and rehydrate when you can, but not so close to the next leg that your tummy bothers you.”

In other words “How many bagels with peanut butter can you eat today?”

It didn’t seem like we had been back from the Dentist very long before the sun was down and we on our way back up to the High School. The temperature was now 48° … Ten degrees colder than when my day started. This lap would be done in sweatpants, with a short sleeve cotton T-Shirt over a poly longsleeve. The sky was clear; the wind had scrubbed the clouds away and thankfully subsided to a comfortable breeze. As we drove up the street [the High School is a mere mile and a half away] I wondered:

“Are there lights on the track?”

‘No, there aren’t’ as it turns out, merely the ambient light from the orange lights on the parking lot, a few utility lamps around the school and some super-bright lights at the used-track and trailer lot next door. The darkness didn’t seem to deter a half dozen or so OTHER souls who were already looping the track when we arrived.

I – again - set my bottle down at trackside, it almost the same spot as lunchtime. I left the keys with D’Kid, fearful I’d lose them in the dark. I quickly crossed myself and started off again.

It didn’t take long for me to get on another runner’s shoulder. In the dark, I couldn’t picture an age on him, but he had the same “old school” outfit as I was wearing. I gave him a few yards on me, just for politeness and my own security; you never know how a person will react when a stranger decides to run beside him in the dark. I also wasn’t sure if, perhaps, these were an organized Friday Evening Running Club, and I may have been jumping into their gig, unannounced, uninvited and unsponsored …
Localism, remember??? It COULD happen on a track, just as easily as on a beach [surfers] or a trail [MTBers].

Eventually, he kicked away from me and finished his run for the evening. That left only myself and a woman I’d seen who I reckoned to be on the other side of the track from me, but travelling at an unknown pace. If she were going faster, she’d pass me eventually; if I were the quicker of us, I’d catch her. However, if we were going the same speed, or very near the same speed, we’d never meet.

Such is life.

Left Brain was pondering the math of this while Right Brain was following some light in the air above us. It’s not unusual to see helicopters out here; there are commuter flights, traffic spotters, MedEvacs, and Army / Marines flying around all the time. But they don’t usually circle around like this one was. They also don’t have Police and Fire equipment rushing up to where they’re circling around. I didn’t see any accident-like activity on the highway nearby, so when the Firefighters lit some flares in the parking lot area behind the bleachers [and AWAY from where we had parked, I could only assume it was some sort of Emergency Landing / Take-Off practice.

I was at the far end of the field/track the NJ State Police S-76 began its approach, thumping and whirring to its landing spot to my left.

‘I’d better let M know what I think’s going on, when I get back to the car’ I thought to myself.

I was one lap too late to come up with that idea, as I saw a little shadowy figure running onto the track toward me.

As I suspected, she’d been watching the DVD in the car with her headphones on and hadn’t noticed any activity until she saw the helo come down. She couldn’t see across the field in the dark and had no idea what had become of me. The poor little miss was pretty shaken.

The girl I’d been “chasing” was there also, and she had no idea what the hubbub was about either. We all figured that if there had been something very serious, the Police, Firefighters and Helo Crew would be doing something far less casual than the “not much” they were doing at that moment … OR, they would have had the courtesy to chase us away.

“I’ve got another mile to go,” I semi-invited the runnerette.
“No, I think I’m done for the night,” she declined.

“I’ve got two miles done, sweetie” I comforted D’Kid “Would you like me to walk with you for the last four laps”
“Let’s run!” she cheered through what was left of her tears and took off, her UGGs galumphing on the rubberized surface.

We Gallowalked the next 1200 yards together, before she allowed me to run the last lap by myself.

We were into the Home Stretch. This leg felt the best of the day; hit 2 miles in about 16 minutes without much of a push, maybe having someone to “chase” helped, or perhaps the “six-mile warm-up” had something to do with it

Sadly, no one asked about the custom bib. To their credit, it WAS dark and the bib WAS black.

On to the FINAL Leg!!! >>>

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