I had a great run. I ate a fruit stick right before I headd out the door with 16 oz. of water. Peachy weather, mid 70F temps outside, with a cool breeze. I took it easy the first couple of miles. The sun shone brilliantly down by the river. I decided to run the rails for a couple of minutes, passing behind a very long block of brownstones set before the river.Fifty years ago this was a thriving riverfront community dependent upon river commerce. Today, nothing but coal barges, and none stopping. I passed the boarded up windows, captivated by the immense span of brick composing the collective back wall of the commercial block, mindful of the jagged cinders underfoot. I came midway behind the four-story crumbling walls to find an open aperture, a delivery bay someone had revealed. The plywood barrier once covering it now lay upon the ground smashed into two pieces. Inside the structure, illuminated by a scattering of sunbeams, the ruins of the building tumbled down around the old massive I-beams.Floors collapsed upon old plastic chairs, chaparral of wires and rotten wood in shallow pools of black, mossy water.
I didn’t have a route planned out when I left the front porch, just a little over an hour. Living in a mountainous region askance a slow, winding river is nice. But sometimes I just want to run around looking at the ruins of the rust belt. I run the railroad tracks underneath a bridge, heading into the west side neighborhood.
I come off the rails next to the Sons of Italy lodge and plan on running the length of this riverside neighborhood, in the middle of which sat the colossus of the shuttered ice factory. Brick. Crumbling. Smashed and boarded up windows. Graffiti and garbage, kids lurking nearby on dirt bikes, waiting for me to pass so they can continue doing whatever they didn’t want me to see.
I hustle back on a slightly elevated parallel road, take a quick jog around the welfare high rise to look at the people hanging around outside. Big strides up the path across the arched bridge overlooking the Monongahela River. Voted River of the Year 2013. My my. I imagine a barrel with gravel in it rolling along the river bottom, a tangle of wire and debris going along with it. I imagine this is how people suddenly disappear and drown in rivers. I worry I’ll be swimming in some murky mid-Atlantic river one day, possibly trying to cross the river, when something unforeseen happens. I think the river is clear, safe to cross. Halfway to the other side, I’m swimming steadily towards a spot on the opposite bank. I get caught in a tangle of wire. The barrel rolls downstream , and the wire pulls me under. After a couple of minutes I drown. From the riverbank it would have looked like I just dipped under a moment…and never surfaced.
Running is pretty safe by comparison. And so I suffer, because why not. Instead of going back towards my eastern neighborhood, I strike northward up a dead-end road. It is steep, and I’m a middle-aged man doing an exaggerated power walk up a sick slope when I run out of road, step over a caution tape barrier and begin a very enervating trek up a very abandoned road. The concrete has all but completely disintegrated, What looks to be large zucchini plants and some beautiful violet flowering plants dressed the path. I was mindful of snakes.
I have seen a black racer and passed close to an annoyed rattler already this week. I whistled and called out as I ascended the hike-able hill. I hoped to drive the beasties down safely before I passed by.
Atop the hill I found myself in a neighborhood, somewhere. Old men pushed mowers around old slate-shingled cottages. Whatevs. I ran towards the sun down a road I recognized and soon found my way back to the river. The road curved in a long arc down about 150 feet. Approaching the bottom of the hill I heard the double-tap of an approaching locomotive. Ack! I sped up. The slow train pulled into view. I thought maybe i had a chance, so i started breathing as hard as I could, hammered my stride into a focused sprint, and made for the intersection ahead, the only chance I had to get in front of the wall of metal blocking my route home. I didn’t make it, so I had to begin running towards the end of the train. I ran at least a quarter mile before I was able to round behind the last car. When I doubled back i found the train still receding from me, probably going around 10 mph, six minute miles. That train was over half a mile long.
Oh, the run. Ah, yes. My hands and my neck, kidneys, doing the things and other things. Knees and heart ventricles, pores and anecdote-styling centers of the brain firing along nice and easy.
I’m feeling good. The recovery from the beating I’ve endured the past two months is about to ebb for a week. I’m planning on just doing sevens every day until Father’s Day.
I can see Silver Metal Fox is crowding out the stars on the Janathon leader board, like a giant elephant in a small gazebo. Yes, like a giant elephant enjoying some feverish respite inside the shadows of a small wooden gazebo. Just like that, and nothing else but that. Wishing for a broader metaphorical palette I may use to wash this world with ideas and emotion? Not this late in the game. I just want my AAA discount exposition, a handy wipe and a banana. A banana in a glass of ice water.
I’m going to work the kettle weight like a gibbon swinging from iron branches. Brachiating on terra firma. With my pelvic arms. Yes, brachiating on terra firma with my pelvic arms, I am going to counter-swing like a moon around my core tonight and…Jesus, if you want to know the truth it was just a good run. And I’m having a quiet evening, content.
I’ve got 25 more of these runs to go. Laters.