Friday, October 28, 2011

40 Years on the Run

It just occurred to me this morning that this month marks an important anniversary in my life. I don't know the exact date. If I'd known it would be important, maybe I'd have written it down. But I didn't know, and I didn't write it down. Maybe it's today. Not that it really matters. What happened is this: One day in October 1971, 40 years agone, I went out for a run and never came back.

Okay, I came back, but I've been going out regularly, five or six days a week ever since. If moderate exercise will keep me in good health, I should be pretty dang healthy. I've been pounding the pavement for 40 years now. If nothing else, I have sturdy calf muscles.

I can remember exactly what I was wearing that first day. The first cool front of the fall had come through, and I had on a pair of wheat-colored jeans that there's no way I could squirm into now, a paisley shirt (long sleeves), and a pair of rubber-soled canvas shoes that I'd used to play handball in when we lived in Austin.

My plan was simple: I'd run as far as I could, then turn around and walk back home. I took off from the end of my driveway, turned right and ran down Ninth Street to Indian Creek Road. I turned left and ran until I couldn't run any more. I figured I'd gone at least a mile. Maybe two. I was quite pleased with myself as I started the long walk back.

When I got home, I got in the car and measured the distance. I was amazed. One-fourth of a mile? How could that be? Surely something was wrong with the odometer, or maybe I'd just looked at it wrong when I started out. I turned around and drove home to check it again.

Sure enough, I'd gone one-fourth of a mile. Not exactly the heroic effort I thought. Oh, well, now I knew there was room for improvement. I'd go out again the next day and do better.

I did go out the next day, but I didn't do any better. I didn't want to strain myself. I'd wait until the next day to improve, but I already knew there'd be a next day. What I didn't know was that there would be a next day for 40 more years.

And there'll be another one tomorrow.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Today I Met Alonzo

You never know what might happen when you're out for a little run. Today, for example, I met Alonzo. He lives about half a mile down the street from me, but I'd never seen him before this morning. I probably wouldn't have seen him today had I not heard someone yelling for help when I passed his house.

I had on sunglasses, and Alonzo was standing back under a carport in deep shade. I didn't see him at first, and I might have gone on had he not yelled again: "Sir! Sir! Please help!"

I saw him then, and I went into his yard to see what was going on. As it turned out, he'd had trouble starting his old pickup and had raised the hood to check the battery connection. The hood had slammed down on both his hands and latched. He'd been yelling, but nobody could hear him. Everybody in the neighborhood was inside with the doors shut, the windows closed, and the air-conditioners humming. Alonzo was in a pickle and in pain, and I was his only hope. I felt a little like Luke Skywalker, only more incompetent.

When I tried the hood release, it wouldn't work. I tried getting my fingers under the hood and lifting. No dice. Meanwhile Alonzo was using colorful language, and his little chihuahua was barking like crazy, straining at his chain and nipping at my naked calves.

Then I saw a child's toy broom on Alonzo's front porch. I was able to cram the broom handle under the hood and pry it up just enough for Alonzo to pull out his hands. I thought he was going to pass out from the sudden relief, but he managed to stay upright and thank me for helping. I'm just glad I happened by and was able to do something for him. My good deed for the day.