The run plumbs the depth of being
The energy began building on a Friday evening. We would hear the crunch of tires on the gravel drive and know another party had arrived. It was the night before Grandma's Marathon. The kids were coming home to run, and they were bringing reinforc...
The energy began building on a Friday evening. We would hear the crunch of tires on the gravel drive and know another party had arrived.
It was the night before Grandma's Marathon. The kids were coming home to run, and they were bringing reinforcements. They piled out of the cars with duffel bags and day packs, lean specimens all, born to run.
I suppose it is possible to ignore Grandma's weekend, to go about gardening or catching walleyes, and life would go on very well. But at our place, Grandma's is homecoming and almost Christmas, an aerobic affair at the apogee of summer.
The kids bring home their friends from college and beyond, and some of them already are beginning to seem like our own. I had already been to the DECC to pick up each runner's race packet, and they were laid out in the living room like Christmas stockings.
In the hubbub of overlapping conversations, we figure out the sleeping arrangements in our modest home. Fortunately, our kids have chosen friends as adaptable as they are. Some will sleep on the fold-out couch, some in extra beds, some in a tent in the backyard.
And, yes, the neighbors are flexible, too, which is why they put up no fuss when we pitch the tent at 10:30 p.m. by headlamp. Nor do they squawk audibly at the sight of a Brent's Biffie, which we have rented for the weekend for the yard dwellers. Yeah, it's tacky. But just try getting seven runners up and ready to run with a single bathroom in a 1902-vintage home. Brent, we need you, man.
The alarms go off at
4 a.m., and the robins start singing moments later. In the cool of June, the runners gather in the kitchen. It's pleasant pandemonium. The place smells like peanut butter on toast. Sleepy-eyed humans pin race numbers on their shirts and affix the all-important timing chips to their running shoes.
Business is good at Brent's.
Then it's off to UMD to catch the old yellow school bus to the start. The driver's two-way radio barks over our idle runner chatter. I look around at our gangly group jostling to the lurch of the bus, and I think, this is good. It is good to run and to run all together in this liquid ribbon of humanity on the eve of the solstice every summer.
It's good for our hearts and our lungs and our families and our city. It's good to wonder what it will feel like today, or whether we can make it, or if we will achieve the goal that each of us carries in the back of our minds.
Is it easy? No, it is not. And not everything in life should be easy. Sometimes, we need to explore what's inside of us, see how much we have in the tank, push through a little pain. So, we join 15,000 others who are in the mood for the same thing and go do it.
And when it's all over Sunday night, and the kids crawl back in their cars and drive away, the quiet around here is almost too much to take.
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at "samcookoutdoors."