My company has me stationed in Short Hills, NJ for a couple of days for one of our seasonal sales meetings, which means listening to presentations for six hours a day in a windowless room, resisting the endless availability of coffee and high-sugar, high-fat snack foods, and serious evening schmoozing with the bottomless glass of red wine in hand.
What it also means is when the sales reps head into their breakout meetings at 3:30 PM, I am released from duty until dinnertime. Oh, the special pleasures of running in the middle of a workday! The rest of the working stiffs are slouched in front of their computers or stuck in a meeting while I am out in the sun and the breeze, my pigtails flying behind me as I burn up the streets of suburbia.
It took me about a mile of trotting through the parking lot of the Short Hills Mall, scrambling up berms and pushing through hedges to finally cut through to the development that sits just behind the mall; I had to be more creative than usual in order to stay off JFK Highway and run safely, but once I finally burst onto Canoe Brook Road I was treated to a hilly and affluent neighborhood full of tree-lined streets and big houses, kiddies scooting around on bicycles with training wheels, and young moms walking dogs and pushing strollers. The sun, even though it would begin to set during my workout, was warm and bright. In addition to the giddy thrill of cutting out of work early, I enjoyed the liberation of running in shorts and a tee shirt for the first time in too may months. In what was clearly a poetic coincidence, the streets were named after classic English writers (I am at a book publishing conference after all). I ran up Tennyson, turned onto Keats, crossed over on Wordsworth and pushed the pace on Byron, Coleridge, Shelley and Chaucer. Browning’s hill was a bitch, though (don’t tell him I said that).
After a disconcerting few hundred yards jogging along the grass on the side of the highway, I finally made it back to the Hilton, refreshed and reenergized, with some of the caffeine and sugar burned off. (I caramelized myself.) 6.1 miles in 55:09. Average pace 9:03; fastest mile 8:47; slowest mile 9:16 (damn you, Browning).