It’s the little things

Posted by on March 10, 2008 in Training

Just under a month ago, I got side-swiped while en route to a yoga class. It was Valentine’s Day and I had just dropped off a rose for my Valentine, so I was feeling good about that and was looking forward to getting back into yoga. I was just a mile from the gym. Two lanes merged into one and though I was ahead, this maniac woman tried to pass me on the right… only there hadn’t been a right lane for a few hundred feet at this point. She had gotten herself up to a high rate of speed and on the verge of hitting the curb, she had no choice but to slam into the passenger side of my car with the drivers side of her car. I got thrust into the oncoming lane of traffic, but being that it was 5:45 a.m., traffic was nonexistent. Naturally, I hit the brakes because… well, that’s what you’re supposed to do in an auto accident. She must read a different rule book because she took off. Of all the people in the world to do this to, I was definitely the wrong person to pick with my personality and a car that can back it up.

With a downshift and the pedal all the way down, I raced after her at speeds that Mom wouldn’t want to know about. I also had the phone out calling 911 and screaming, “I’m in a high speed chase!” The response: “Sir, PLEASE do NOT pursue the vehicle.” About a mile later, she pulled over but only after I got to within 3 or 4 feet from her bumper with the horn honking, the high beam business, and wild arm movements telling her to pull over. The spot she chose was an army facility of some sorts and sure enough, she emerged wearing army fatigues. It couldn’t have been more than 10 seconds before the county sheriff showed up and as a result, the maniac and I never spoke. My car only had cosmetic damage to the side as well as the wrecked side view mirror, so it was totally drivable. The irony of all this was that the gym’s calendar I had looked at for yoga was outdated, so it was all for naught.

Because I live in NYC and work in NJ, the car is absolutely necessary. The office isn’t convenient via mass transit, although colleagues have offered to pick me up at the train. I have carpooled in the past with one of the physicians, but she’s now commuting from elsewhere. Having the car makes the commute a mere 40 minutes or less each way, but mass transit would get it up to 2+ hours. Now with the car needing repairs, I’m a little stuck.

I made the decision to have the work done in Englewood, NJ. I dropped the car off this morning with plans to run the 9 miles back home. Having run 11 miles on Saturday morning in the monsoon, followed by a football game in that same monsoon, followed by a 70 mile bike ride Sunday, my legs were far from fresh, but hey… this is Ironman training. I was dogged by the crazy hills and even stopped at one point to look up and shrug my shoulders as if to say, what the hell is with all of these inclines?! Exasperation always goes away, or so I’ve learned, and I pressed on. Thank God for this wisdom because the best part of the run was just ahead of me.

Crossing the GW Bridge was incredible. It was at the height of rush hour and was packed with cars filled with impatient honkers. I was initially focused on mere survival given the fatigue and all, but something about getting past that first stanchion changed everything. All I had to do was take a quick look to my right and see the NYC skyline… I found myself literally smiling. The pace picked up but the heart rate didn’t; this was all emotion and adrenaline. The legs weren’t tired anymore. Seeing my breath with every exhale suddenly seemed settling. The perfectly blue sky, the small boat passing underneath the bridge, the shimmering Hudson River with the perfect ripples of waves, the couple holding hands on the path in front of me, the perfect timing for the right tune to come on the iPod, etc.

I’ve got my share of concerns not unlike anyone else. I don’t necessarily need an escape from them because I feel like I’m well-positioned psychologically and emotionally to handle them, but there are moments when I find that I have somehow escaped and been inserted into some special place. No, the GWB isn’t that special, nor is seeing the NYC skyline for the umpteenth time, but I remember that in the everyday monotony that we all face in one way or another, there is inherent beauty to be found. I really didn’t do anything special or out of the ordinary. Lots of people run; lots of people do all the things that I do. I just remembered to see how the little things and the subtle elements of life are where you can find solace and peace.

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