In the Bronx, my hometown, there were many reasons to run.
Trying to time the exact arrival of a city bus was like trying to forecast the existence of Google. Men, women, teens, little kids, old folks, short, tall, skinny and chubby people could be seen racing to make the bus. Keeping in mind the buses ran every 10 minutes, it always seemed unnecessary to make that bus.
Running for the El or the subway train was even more complicated and could cause some serious agadah (aggravation). Sometimes you had to race to the bus to transport you to the stop you needed to race for the trains. Racing for transportation was a way of life. The reward was ending up at your destination on time.
Running for a taxi was not necessary. You only had to know how to place your feet firmly on terra firma and lift an arm high in the air with the pointer finger raised and ready to flick up and down, indicating to the cabdriver you needed a ride.
Hitchhiking was an activity that required you to be alert and ever ready to chase down the car, whose driver decided too late to stop and give you a ride. Ah, the good ol’ days.
The art of running came in handy when I was running errands for my mom (z”l). With a list of items and the money to purchase them, I was ready to run the race to come back fast with what my mom needed.
Running from the police was a popular activity but not one in which I participated.
Moving to Atlanta opened a whole new reason to run. Although my family has lived in Atlanta for nearly 36 years, I am still perplexed about why people around here run.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe in doing the right thing, in taking care of those who cannot care for themselves. Performing mitzvot (good deeds) is an integral part of who I am, who my family is. So when my daughters tell me they ran a qualifying race to get their time recorded, I wonder who their mother really is.
You are not alone if you are wondering why they need their times recorded, or perhaps you know because you are getting your time recorded. For more than 30 years my very own husband was running to get his time recorded. And all for what? A T-shirt? Seriously? A T-shirt?
Oh, sure, to get said T-shirt, you must make a donation to a worthy cause. I get that part of it. Couldn’t you just make the donation without running for a T-shirt? The excitement that builds when the T-shirt is long-sleeved is a complete mystery to me.
Did you know there is a race called the Hot Chocolate Run? Not only do you receive a T-shirt that you pay for, but you also get, yes, hot chocolate. A heck of a sweet way to replenish your energy.
There is a race called the 400 Run, along the Georgia highway. Now what in heaven’s name is that all about? Right about now, running from the police seems tame.
My sweet hubby has nearly 35 July 4th Peachtree Road Race T-shirts. What do you suggest I do with them? I am forbidden to donate them or sell them (who would buy them?); making a blanket, which was a suggestion, is not my thing.
So they are stored in giant plastic containers for some future archaeologists to discover. Now that I think about it, it would probably be wise if I included a letter of explanation. If I don’t, I am afraid their brains will hurt trying to decipher what these things are.
Heart attack hill? Why would a normal human being deliberately run a hill clearly marked to give you a heart attack?
All these races are meaningful in their own way; after all, my own family is among the lunatics who participate. I must say, I do have one daughter, which would be No. 2 daughter, who does not fit into this category. So I have only four lunatics for whom I must celebrate their accomplishments in the prestigious field of “runner.”
To tell you the truth, I too am a runner; at least I refer to myself as one. Yes, one, that’s the average distance I run: one mile; on a good day, two or three. No shirts involved: My prize is having quiet moments to think and to delight in early morning sights and sounds.