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> Limits, sort of like giving 110%
> We run on a very fine edge
> Challenge
> The Hard and The Easy
> The Mountain
> State Line
> The Hill - the original
> Bleeker Street
> SOS - Survival of the Shawangunks Battle Story
> The Ocean is my Gatorade
> The Old Elm Tree
> I recognized the look in his face
> One Foot in Front of The Other - year end musing
> Wham BAM Thank You #33...
> Slant Six Mind, Super Charged Heart
> The Hill
> You Know I'm Gonna Miss You When I'm Gone
> Tracks
> Marc's Story
> Ouch!
> The Damage Done

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The Old Elm Tree

In the spring of 2000 I had posted this to the Dead Runners Society list: 

 

At the Engineers Gate in Central Park (90th Street and Fifth Avenue) there's an Elm Tree (I use a capital Tree because the diameter of this tree is at least 6 feet across).  It sits almost exactly at the finish line for many NYRRC races and for many of my runs in Central Park.

 

It's a big and knurly old tree, standing with it's trunk pointing straight up to the sky and a few very large branches spreading out in all directions. Many use the tree to stretch, to provide shade in the summer, as a meeting place and as an anchor.

 

Saturday morning my best friend and old running buddy Ralph and I met under that tree for a run.  When we both lived in New Jersey, Ralph and I would run every weekend together.  You have read about some of those runs, rambling sorts of adventures along the Palisades.

 

Saturday morning was the same and it was different.  As Ralph put it, we were

"sailing on an old wind."  At least I feel like I'm sailing on an old wind! But, it sure feels wonderful to be running.  Moreover, after I feel even better.

 

About a year ago Ralph broke his knee cap.  He's been recovering and working himself back into shape.  I've been also working my way back into shape. So, our loop of Central Park was an easy one, a comfortable pace for both of us and it allowed us time to talk.  And we both can talk, and tell stories. It's been a while since we ran together so there was a lot to catch up on.

 

As we rounded the bottom of the park Mike appeared.  I hadn't seen Mike in close to nine years.  We used to run ultras together.  He's in great shape, just finishing up 14 consecutive weeks of 90 miles per!  And not a race in sight!  He says racing gets in the way of training, and having fun!  Both Ralph and I can relate to that!

 

He's off to Tucson and a run up Telephone Line in Sabino Canyon!

 

After our loop of the park we were standing under the Elm Tree talking when Sweet Julie runs up and stops.  We talked for a while and she took off to do her loop or more.  I headed over to Starbucks for coffee and to wait Sweet Julie's arrival.

 

Sunday we headed into the *Snow Storm* to run the Niketown Run For The Parks.  Saturday was 70 degrees and Sunday was 32 degrees with a howling wind and snow!  The park looked even prettier, with the flowers and buds all covered with snow.  Fortunately, the road was just wet, not icy.

 

The four mile race was just enough for me.  After we again headed over to Starbucks (after picking up bagels at David's) for coffee.  Once we warmed up we headed home.

 


My good friend Ralph responded with:

 

 

Neil said in a post yesterday that I used the phrase "sailing on an old wind".  Actually I've used "sailing on yesterday’s wind". There's a significant difference in the two, in my opinion. "Sailing on yesterday's wind" is what we do when we talk about a marathon ran 23 years ago and reiterating the splits the 38th time. Passing or being passed in a 10K or 100K circa  B.O.T (Beginning of Time). Just gassing what we did when we were fast and the world was young. We all do it, don't we? No, you say? Wait for a decade or three and you'll do it too.

 

Back to the subject (not the elm tree ) of the difference between the phrases. My worn phrase is in the past, Neil's words "Sailing on an old wind" speaks of the present and the future, doing a sport for two thirds of you life and knowing we will continue. Running with your comrades in the

Park and on the Palisades. Knowing that most of all your closest friends and a few loves are runners and have been for eons. And running with my oldest and best friend Neil.

 

As for the figurative subject, What tree?! I've passed by Engineer's Gate three zillion times, once 16 times on a very long day, and is there a tree? I I just can't visualize one. Was I still thinking of those long ago marathon splits? I have to get over this. I will stand still and find the tree. If there is one.

 

Ralph

 

Blinded by the Light  -  B. Springsteen


And I responded to Ralph with:
Ralph, posted thusly ...

 

> Neil said in a post yesterday that I used the phrase "sailing on an old

> wind".  Actually I've used "sailing on yesterdays wind". There's a

> significant difference in the two, in my opinion. "Sailing on yesterday's

> wind" is what we do when we talk about a marathon ran 23 years ago and

> reiterating the splits the 38th time. Passing or being passed in a 10K or

> 100K circa B.O.T (Beginning of Time). Just gassing what we did when we

> were fast and the world was young. We all do it, don't we. No, you say?

> Wait for a decade or three and you'll do it too.

 

Hey, folks!  Can you imagine running with this guy?!  The distinctions between "yesterday's wind," and "an old wind" are true, as Ralph stated. Maybe he's noticing more optimism in me than even I realize exists.

 

He continues with ...

 

> Back to the subject (not the elm tree ) of the difference between the

> phrases. My worn phrase is in the past, Neil's words "Sailing on an old

> wind" speaks of the present and the future, doing a sport for two thirds of

> you life and knowing we will continue. Running with your comrades in the

> Park and on the Palisades. Knowing that most of all your closest friends and

> a few loves are runners and have been for eons. And running with my oldest

> and best friend Neil.

 

Maybe he's just setting me up for the conversation that will ensue on our next long run.  Then again, maybe he's suffering from more marathons and way more ultras than I am.

 

And he ends with ....

 

> As for the figurative subject, What tree?! I've passed by Engineer's Gate

> three zillion times, once 16 times on a very long day, and is there a tree?

> I I just can't visualize one. Was I still thinking of those long ago

> marathon splits? I have to get over this. I will stand still and find the

> tree. If there is one.

 

Must be the later, since he can't visualize a 200 year old tree that stands over 6 feet across at a point he admits to having run past a gazillion times.

 

Ah, this is why I love Ralph and will run with him until the day I die!  He brings tears of joy to my eyes and makes me laugh so hard I can't stand up.

 

np - Townes Van Zandt - To Live Is To Fly (from A Far Cry From Dead)

 

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give Birth to a dancing

star. Zarathustra via Fredrich Nietzsche

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