Today was a short, three mile run, since I want to make sure to bring up my millage gradually again. I headed out without a destination, assuming I would just repeat my run to Washington-Heights. As I was crossing the McComb’s Dam Bridge, however, I happened to espy the 145th Street Bridge spanning the Harlem River just south of me. It’s one of the bridges I haven’t run over, and some quick geographic estimations in my head guessed that making it the half-way point of a loop would give me a run of around three miles. One of the unattended effects of regular running is that I’ve become very good at estimating distances and speed with a relatively high degree of accuracy.
So I cut down into Harlem, made my way to 145th, then ran back over into the Bronx. There wasn’t much remarkable about the route, the day, or the experience, though I tried to keep up a fast pace, and made it back to the school in around 24 minutes or so. It’s sort of fun to have a check-list style goal, like running over every bridge that connects to Manhattan. I’ve never been much of one for that sort of thing, but it did give me a reason to run a route I never would have thought of otherwise; it also added a sense of identity to a run which had no other attributes to distinguish it.
Not that each run needs to be distinguishable, as part of the joy in finding Murakami’s void is in the repetitious nature of running, the nearly meditative act of tracing the same stretch of sidewalk and street-corners again and again, each instance traveling through the same place and yet finding a new (though nearly identical) joy waiting in the boughs of the trees and the cracks in the cement. The time of day is different, or even just the cast of the light against the row houses; your mood is different, happier, perhaps, or more frustrated; you sees a stray cat that was not there the time before, or else you see a mural that you must have passes a dozen times and yet never noticed until just this moment. And even if, through some incalculably small quantum odds, every condition were identical, it is still not the same experience, for it is nothing other than the experience you are having today, at this exact moment, heir to ever experience that came before it, lived as the person you are now, in this instant, running and breathing and thinking even these very thoughts, perhaps for the first time, perhaps once again, perhaps thinking of how this is what you thought the last time you ran this route as you slow to a jog, then a walk, then are back at the school, ready to face the rest of the afternoon.
Distance: 3.1 miles Time: not recorded