Staying up lateJuly 13, 2010
-54:22: Two days before my friends Jeremy and Brinsley arrive for a visit, I’m struck by the thought that Jeremy and I should run the Firecracker 5000 together. I can’t articulate why a midnight run through the streets of Seattle with an old cross-country teammate seems appealing, but it does. I send Jeremy an email with the subject header, “a pretty terrible idea?”
-51:40: Jeremy writes back: “I have not run a step in earnest since 1996, when I trained in cursory fashion for, and subsequently finished next-to-last in, the Aluminum Bowl. I’m sure I couldn’t do anything more than 8-minute miles. I don’t even own running shorts anymore…. If you’re actually up for this, and if you promise to jog beside me (I’m not jogging by myself, that would suck, and yes, I will only be jogging) … well, I’m smiling as I type this so I guess that means I’m up for it too.” He adds that I must promise to write a blog entry about the event because “If I’m going to agree to do something this bonkers I expect to be immortalized forever on the intertubes.”
-1:25: The warmup begins. I’m running four miles from my house to the Moore Hotel, from which Jeremy and I will walk to the race. Still not quite sure why I want to do this. Still looking forward to it.
-0:10: Ten minutes ’til the start of the race. Bill Roe announces that the exact distance is 5,060 meters — bad news for those who’ve trained only for 5K. Jeremy is wearing his 10th anniversary (1985-95) Slow Boys t-shirt (“Passed, present and future”), the Slow Boys being a subgroup of the Williams College cross-country team. I used to be a Slow Boy as well, but I’m projecting the opposite image tonight with a Team USA jersey.
+0:01: One minute into the race, Jeremy’s timing chip has already fallen off of his shoe. It hadn’t occurred to me that this technology might stymie him, but why should it be otherwise for someone who retired at a time when results were often compiled using popsicle sticks?
+0:04: Jeremy says that the pavement is hard in Seattle. Um, yeah, sorry about that.
+0:10: We hit the one-mile mark in 10:05. Any projections, Jeremy? “If I can keep from getting a side stitch, I can probably hold [the pace].”
+0:13: We overhear a pedestrian asking his friends, “Why are these people running [in a giant cluster through the streets during the dead of night]?” “It’s an excellent question,” Jeremy notes.
+0:20: We reach two miles in 20:15. Considering his 14-year layoff, Jeremy is pacing himself remarkably well. He considers picking up the pace to improve the chances that we’ll finish before the donuts (provided by race sponsor Top Pot) are all gone. How many donuts were donated, anyway? Do the fast people get Boston Creams while the slow pokes have to settle for boring cinnamon-flavored ones? We’d better keep moving.
+0:29: Jeremy kicks to a 29:53 while I tag along dutifully. We grab some water and then quickly locate the donuts, which remain plentiful. They are chocolate with red, white, and blue sprinkles.
+0:36: The donut mission accomplished, talk turns to such topics as Carl Yastrzemski, whom both of us revered as kids. I can’t recall why I became so attached to Yaz, but Jeremy remembers admiring his baseball card — in particular, the extra-small type face needed to cram all of his stats onto the back.
+0:47: Jeremy rates fellow runners’ costumes as “predictable in a good way” but tame relative to some he used to see at the London Marathon, where, for example, people would run in professionally made rhinoceros outfits to call attention to the plight of the rhino.
+1:11: The discussion meanders further to thoughts about glasses half-full, roads not taken, and seeds soon to be planted. Amidst this melange of reminiscing, philosophizing, and joking around, I realize what I had hoped to get out of this evening, and that I’ve been getting it.
My undergraduate years were among the happiest ones of my life. That was a time when I had the energy, restlessness, and freedom to stay up late with kindred spirits, pursuing wacky adventures or silly-yet-profound conversations. It was great to turn back the clock with Jeremy for a night — to act less than sensibly and to speak less than clearly, but to do it with the enthusiasm and earnestness of a slightly sleep-deprived college student in good company.