Saturday, March 5, 2011

Outside Lies Magic

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
- César Chávez

One of the joys of running is that, unlike other hobbies or other physical activities, when you go out of town, you can just put on your running shoes and off you go. Whenever I travel, I always look forward to getting up early the following morning and going for a run to see what I can see and find what I can find. There's no schedule to follow, no pace to run, no watch to keep track of. All I've got to do is go forward and try to remember my way back to the hotel.

As most of you know, I love baseball, so I'll usually see how close the I'm staying to the local ball park. Doesn't matter if it's the major league or the minor league - I just find fascination running around baseball parks. If there's none available, I'll settle for football stadiums, arenas, or college campuses. The "Holy Grail" of the ballpark runs is to find an open gate so I can run inside and see the field. I'm like a kid - "see the field before I get caught". Domed stadiums are the worst - they're never open! I all my trips to see Adam (my grandson) and my family in Boston, I have never penetrated Fenway Park. BUT, the search for the Holy Grail of Holy Grails is far from over!

But most of my "finds" are totally unplanned once read a book titled "Outside Lies Magic" about the loads of sites and sounds most folks never see they're closed up in their cars speeding from place A to place B. The author (John Stilgoe) urges you to walk or cycle to discover a whole new world (or rediscover an old one). Well, Mr. Stilgoe is apparently not a runner, but through running I have "accidentally" run upon some sites and sounds that made me so glad that I am a runner.

Many years ago, I was in Seattle, and early one morning I went through an open gate to what I thought might be a park. There was no one there and after running for a few minutes, I realized I was at the site of the old World's Fair! Just me and these many venues, sculptures, and exhibits. And let's not forget the Space Needle...and me...and nobody else! How cool was that?

In Tennessee, I found myself at a Confederate cemetery. It's humbling to see a hundred tombstones with basically the same dates (birth and death).

In my home state of New Jersey, while I was visiting my sisters, I went out for just an innocent jog, and was suddenly thrust into a sea of memories. I found myself on a street that I had lived on when I was maybe 5 years old and had long forgotten. I had some vague recollections of the area, but running down the road hit me like a 2X4. I found my house, my best friend's house, and places we used to play. Of course, everything was smaller than I remembered it. It was like my own private episode of the Twilight Zone.

In Dallas, I was running by myself early one AM down some solitary road when I was passed by the entire 15 person 7-11 cycling team. Us old cyclists remember the 7-11 team as a pretty big deal in the mid 80's. This was America's Team at the Tour de France and all the big races. I had no idea they were in Dallas training (and they probably had no idea I was in Dallas either!).

In Alaska, I ran the Midnight Sun Marathon and then stayed there for another week. During that week, I would awaken every morning and run down the the beautiful trails (fortunately forgetting there might be bears down these beautiful trails). One morning, I was running down a single track trail next to a stream, and up ahead came two bald eagles flying directly towards me over the water. I just stopped in awe as they flew not more than 10 feet above my head. Just magnificent!

I don't like to run on the beach, but one foggy morning in Oregon, the tide was out and the shore was perfectly flat, hard packed, and 200 yards wide. That was a wonderful 10 miler.

In Victoria, British Columbia, I just happened upon a large stone monument that had etched on it "Transcontinental Highway Mile 0". Visions of running the 3000 miles to the Atlantic enticed me, but I had to get back to the hotel for breakfast.

Bermuda has it's paved-over railroad beds that run the length of the island, Rhode Island has it's 300 year old college campuses, and in New Orleans, the very early morning French Quarter is quite different from the one the average visitor has seen.

Yes, I've been around the block, but thank goodness, a lot of it has been in my running shoes, because truly, Outside Lies Magic. I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

In savannah for the weekend. Gonna get up in the AM and see what magic I can find!