by Patrick Reed
We were racing home from Las Vegas… Pursued by flamoozled roulette keepers or hoodwinked slot machine watchers, you imagine? Not quite. My girls and I had ventured to ‘sin city’ to accompany my wife, who was attending a conference there, and to take in some of the atmosphere of that noisy city. So noisy, by the way, that on my Saturday night run (yeah, I left it until last) as I trounced out of town via the Paris Hotel casino lobby – I didn’t hear one word of the UltraRunnerPodcast’s interview of Alan Abbs’ and his astounding unsupported win at the Vol State 500k earlier in the month. The Las Vegas strip is so overbearing with its gleaming windows, sparkulating lights (yeah, I know it’s not a word, but you gotta improvise to describe that place…) and dinging and ringing whirls of everything…
Anyway, we were cruising away from the strip and the city, and back to our beloved California Central Coast when my wife looked over to me as I drove and said, “We won’t make it in time, Pat. You gotta do your run now.”
I had already realized the same. To keep my streak alive, I had to hit the pavement during this exodus from Las Vegas. So, we went into thinking mode, and before I could get out a few options as to what to do, Jana was already there: “There’s a little road off to the left here — it seems to parallel the highway. Pull over there, get changed and let’s get to it!”
“Okay,” I smiled at my wife, so thankful that she, too, was highly invested in my running streak. Moments later, I was setting out on my daily run. Some 205 consecutive runs — every day of 2013. My wife drove next to me, my girls looked up from their iPads from time to time to get their Papa a nonchalant, “Hey Papa!”
I love my daily run – no matter how I find it. Each day, it is that consistent sacrament, striding out, the simplicity of one foot in front of the other. I was amazed at how easily this ‘inconvenient’ workout played into our day.
The course was straight. One of those old roads which geometrically mark snap-to gridlines of the rural open country. Going was slow and uncertain along the sandy sides of the road, but when we got into sync, my wife would drive just a shoulder ahead of me as if to urge me on optimistically. And I clicked off the miles. Occasionally, a fenced dog would scream from her captivity, clanking against a chicken-wire fence, but otherwise, the night was balmy and quiet. As we approached the end of the run, a railroad crossing loomed. I figured I would finish just before the tracks and hop back into the car and the joy of a family roadtrip.
The parallel universe my wife found for me – the old highway which enabled me to safely crank out my daily 5k – reminded me of the road not taken once again. All too often, I am enamored by the overwhelming siren call of the colorful city and by the call to busyness which our on-demand culture tutors. This night, I remembered again the quiet road – the one no one travels upon – the forgotten road – which often offers a better, quieter, self-reflective path. The parallel universe ever exists just out of sight of the banging cymbals that ever win our attention. I will aim just a bit more to look for such quiet paths in my training and my living. Perhaps, I can find new inspirations to accompany the bliss of my running streak.
PS – Here’s a the GPS data from my parallel universe run:)