Running into July-- 07/03/12

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's race. I've been running in this race -- Camire's Firecracker 4-Miler -- since 1996 (which is the earliest I could have run it because in July of 1995 we were still living in Binghamton, NY).

If my mental math is right, this will be the 14th time that I have run this race. One year the race was not held and one year I was not up to running it (following my Achilles tendon surgery a couple of years ago).

And then there was 1999...

I was in London toward the end of that June and the beginning of July. One of our products was my baby. It has long been replaced but I still have a fondness for it. Without getting too bogged down in technical details, it was a CICS/COBOL based middleware product, something that helped companies develop software that could easily access existing online systems and programs, and then leverage those existing systems to service new front-end programs. I had developed the courses for it and trained new instructors -- including those who would be teaching in other countries around the world. Our instructor for the U.K. and Europe had left to accept an excellent offer from another company and, after training his replacement (who had come to Rhode Island for preliminary training), I then had to go to London to assist him in setting up a training environment in London and then staying over through the next week to observe his first full class.

So... Monday, June 28th, thru Friday, July 2nd, 1999. The class was a success. That Friday night I went out to celebrate with the new instructor -- and also with the original U.K. instructor and his wife. I had become friends with them (his wife was a manager with my employer) and always tried to get together with them every time I was in England. So by train into the London suburbs (sort of halfway for my English friends who lived outside of Basingstoke) to a Pakistani restaurant owned by friends of my new instructor. We had a great time, eating some very good food.... some very spicy food. In fact, I was saying how much I enjoyed the heat and so they had made it extra spicy. My new instructor later told me that his restaurant-owning friends had commented that they didn't usually see a "white man" (direct quote -- their words, not mine) eating food that hot, especially not an American. I figured they just weren't seeing very many Yanks in their particular suburb. Needless to say, a significant quantity of Kingfisher beer was required to wash down these various spicy dishes.

After our magnificent repast, we went our separate ways and I was dropped off at the small train station to catch the next train in to Paddington Station. I always stayed at the Marriot Regents Park Hotel. It was an easy walk (or so it seemed to me) from the Swiss Cottage station on the Jubilee line on the underground as well as from Paddington Station. I liked to stay at Marriott hotels in the late nineties because I could accumulate Marriott points (for free stays on personal travel) and this particular one was conveniently located but less expensive than Marriotts that were closer to my work site. Also, it was close to Regents Park (site of the London Zoo). The reason that I liked being near to Regents Park was so that I could go there to run.

Anyway, back to 1999... I actually dozed off on the train and another passenger alerted me to the fact that we were now stopped at Paddington Station, the last stop. Walked to my hotel, packed everything for my return home except what I would need to wear in the morning. Went to bed and fell asleep. Sometime in the early hours -- somewhere around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m., the telephone rang. I fumbled for it, answered it -- nobody there. Now I am awake and worried. Who was calling me? What was wrong? I called the hotel desk. A call had been put through to my room, did he know where it was from? He wasn't certain (he had a thick French accent) but he thought it might have been from outside of the UK. Okay. So I place a call home (2:00 a.m. Saturday morning London time would only be 9:00 p.m. Friday evening in Rhode Island) and get Nancy. Did you just call me? Nope. Nobody else in the US other than Nancy (except perhaps for my manager) would have any idea where to find me. Well, it was almost certainly a wrong number but now I was wide awake. Only had about two hours sleep but I was wide awake. Read. Watched a movie. Read some more. Finally dozed off about half an hour before my phone would ring with my wake up call. Off to the airport. Fly from Heathrow to JFK, then from JFK to Providence. And then, finally, back home. Five time zones. Bumping into walls level of fatigue. Dinner. Might have rented a movie. Can't remember. Off to bed, exhausted.

Sunday morning comes. The 4th of July. The day of the race. I oversleep. I almost never oversleep. Can't remember if I forgot to set my alarm or if I just shut it off in my sleep. Woke up a few minutes before nine -- for a race that starts at nine -- just a bit over three miles away -- leap out of bed, throw on a t-shirt, running shorts, socks, running shoes -- grab car key -- down the stairs and out the door. It is very overcast, dark clouds, rumbles of thunder. Drive to town. Occasional big fat drops of rain hitting my windshield. Park my car and run to the registration table, find someone still there who can give my my t-shirt and race number. The race started fifteen minutes ago. The lead runners have already reached the halfway turnaround point and are headed back. Well, even 13 years ago I was far being an elite runner and so what if a storm is threatening and it will probably be pouring rain before I could finish the course. But then, as I have my number and my t-shirt in hand, there is an incredible loud noise -- just incredible -- and an awesome flash as a bold of lightning strikes an electrical power transformer less than a 100 yards away. Loud crackling noises are coming from the transformer... and I decide that Mother Nature has just told me that what I really should do is to take my shirt and get back in my car and drive home to have a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, that this is not an auspicious time for a run. So I did just that, went back home for breakfast.

But other than those three occasions, I have run every one of Camire's Firecracker Four since we moved to Rhode Island.

Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for very cloudy in the morning with chance of showers and possible thunderstorm. (And in the afternoon, partly cloudy with a chance of showers and perhaps a thunderstorm.) The forecast calls for a 50/50 chance of rain in the morning or afternoon. And for Wednesday night, partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Chance of rain Wednesday night is only 20%... but... sigh. I don't mind (well, not too much) if it rains on the race -- but rain would really mess up the fireworks in the evening.

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