Monday, July 4, 2011

Well, hello there, Pilgrim!

Funds collected to date: $1044.40 (39%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,575.60
Miles Ran This Week: 21 (longest single run = 8 miles)
Weeks to Go: 18

Greetings and Happy 4th of July from America's Hometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts!

I have been spending the long holiday weekend here with family and friends, but that does not excuse the need for an 8 mile run this past Saturday.
The great news is that you really can't beat the scenery. It's also difficult to beat having your mother hold all your stuff and stand there with a water bottle waiting for you to run by and demand it. I'm wondering if she'll come to NY every weekend for my long runs...hmmmm....

Running in Plymouth vs. New York City has many differences aside from the scenery and the servant mothers. In New York there is a certain etiquette -- a code, if you will -- that dictates how to run amongst millions of others without strife, chaos and infliction of bodily harm. The basic principles for NY Runners to live by are in essence to keep to yourself, keep out of others' ways as much as possible, and try to avoid crazy people.

Fine. So after running on a lovely new path (Nelson's Playground to Cordage Park for those Plymouthians in the audience that are interested) for miles 1-4, I used my "water station" (Mom) and then head off for miles 4-8 through the historic waterfront. It was during this back-half of the run that I encountered the issue I have coined "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry." SRTP happens when you are jolted back to normalcy when leaving New York for a bit and actually interact -- positively -- with strangers.

Whilest running in Plymouth, people were just so damn pleasant. They said "hello!," "a good morning to ya!," or "great job!" At first, I was taken aback, because in New York when a stranger calls out to you, this is a sign that you should use your marathon training skills to run FASTER and AWAY from the issue. You avoid eye contact and move along. Nothing to see here. Don't instigate the crazy. Here in normal society, it turns out, people are actually just saying hello! It takes a few minutes to adjust to this. Don't be frightened if you should ever encounter it and do please note that it is customary to actually make eye contact and reply back. I know. Weird.

At one point during the run a man just started running with me. We chatted for a while about him running the Boston Marathon and how my progress has been so far. He recommended I get a tattoo to commemorate this when I finish (I think a blog will suffice). Most importantly, though, he did not try to kill me. This is a clear example of "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry" in that back in the city...a random man with a backpack that runs along side you is a precursor NOT to lovely conversation, but to potential maiming.

After my run, my mom had to return books at the library, so I did my stretching there. It turns out you draw a lot of attention (by Plymouth standards) for stretching in a Library parking lot. In NY, you see people doing the most absurd, ridiculous things everyday and you don't even bat an eyelash. There is a dude who walks around Central Park with a full out boa constrictor around his neck. Another lady who might -- as an example -- just start singing Opera in the middle of a crowded intersection. No big deal. Me stretching in a library parking lot in Plymouth, Mass.? ABSURDITY. In the 5 minutes it took my mom to go inside and return her book and get the woman behind her in line to pay her $0.30 late fee (way to go, Myra!), three different people came up to me, inquired on the activity I was in progress doing, and wished me luck with my upcoming Marathon. Because, in Plymouth, you end up somehow telling random strangers about your goals and dreams.

All in all, a very positive running experience. I just have to make sure now that when I go back to NY I don't let this go to my head. It is NOT appropriate to have an exchange with crazy boa constrictor man in the middle of central park. It is appropriate to put on your headphones, zone out, and run like hell.

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