I arise early today, the morning air still cold as the sun barely peeks through my window. I throw on my racing shoes, the same shoes I went to break in over two years ago. The same shoes that witnessed my broken leg and escape from the Arb that night; their very first outting. I wouldn’t normally don them, but I’ve a mission this morning. An old hoodie slips over my head and I’m out the door, grabbing a handful of raisins for fuel on the way.
There’s a certain calm these streets know as the dawn's glow shines light into dark corners before the hustle and bustle of everyday life resumes. I make my way first down Kent Street, then merging onto West and through the mixed immigrant neighborhood I was almost held up in one night back in April. Blackalicious jams on my iPod, segueing from Passion to Supreme People. These are the morning’s anthems, and they embody everything the morning is about.
I take a right on Lake, passing by Washington Park and the curbs crammed with cars by students unable to find more suitable parking. A mile and a half in, a left on Myrtle, kicking up another gear to stride out any final kinks to get my blood flowing. I snake into a hidden driveway and cut through the hospital grounds with the familiarity of a patient that’s visited this place one too many times. I steal a reticent glance up at the Cardiology Department windows on the second floor, and then refocus on the task at hand.
Cutting between the Albany Law and Pharmacy Schools, an old track comes into view. Its lane lines are barely visible and enough rubber has worn away to reveal large patches of concrete every 50 meters, but that doesn’t change this oval’s function as the battleground of weekend warriors.
Some stretching and a short rest later, I line up to test my body. Trepidation serves as a governor during a slow first lap, and I pick up the pace at the quarter-mile mark. Rounding lap two, I quicken my pace a little more, though by no means impress the one or two students heading out to work. This leaves plenty in the tank for lap four, and I kick it in with 200 meters to go. Yet with 100 meters left, my kick leaves, and I’m reminded that I haven’t done this in a long time. I finish a minute, maybe 1:10, slower than the end goal - but we’ve got five more months to sort that out. Jogging back home, I pen a short letter in my head:
I know past plans didn't work out, but this time is different. I promise. Be seeing you next April.