In The Queue For The Lifeboat

“Priorities change,” she said.

My father and his wife flew in from Indianapolis yesterday. They tallied exactly six and a half hours on the island Manhattan, six of which were spent in the company of their newest grandson, Edward, and his big brother, Ethan.

One gets used to playing second fiddle to the grandkids. It is, after all, completely understandable that everyone wants a moment of their great shine. Sometimes, though, it’s a little disappointing.

“Priorities change,” she said.

Abbi and my weekend was all about the New York City Half Marathon. The distance (13.1M), given our current training schedule, was actually something of a break. That it precluded running on Saturday, and mandated recovery on Sunday, though, was a blessing.

Used to be one was walking out the door at eleven. Now, in an effort to get up at five or six o’clock (depending on distance), I’m going to sleep at eleven.


Used to be Saturday nights were Arlene Grocery, pleather pants, and distorted guitars. Now, in an effort to save myself for the thirteen or eighteen miles in the morning, it’s dinner at seven, then “The Hunt For Red October” on HBO.


Used to be the best pace was (as my old friend Derek Thomas used to say) “flat out to ‘Frisco.”

Or, as Steve Prefontaine used to say, “The best pace is a suicide pace.”

Not so much any more. Now it’s a build to a well-timed, explosive finish.

So, we rose before dawn, stretched over coffee and the New York Times, then jogged off towards Central Park’s Engineer’s Gate where we joined ten thousand runners in the queue. Miraculously, my brother spotted us. The first seven miles around the park’s loop were plodding, crowded, and boring. I was short and sharp. As we turned towards Seventh Avenue, though, the gray sky opened up and rained huge, cold drops on us. On the PA system at the edge of the park, Bono’s voice gave me chills.

I hit an iceberg in my life
You know I’m still afloat
You lose your balance, lose your wife
In the queue for the lifeboat

The remaining miles through Times Square and down the West Side Highway were exhilarating. Our 9:15 pace gave way to 8:30s. The city passed like a diorama from our new perspective, there on the empty highway. The Empire State Building and Javitz Center gave way to Chelsea Piers and Gansevoort Market. Soho yielded to Battery Park City, where, in a full-on sprint, Abbi and I crossed the finish mats in 1:55:49.

Back home on the Upper East, Abbi’s sister and boyfriend had scarcely stirred from sleep.


“Whaddya wanna do?” she asked.

“Is sitting around in our pajamas watching bad television a terrible waste of a day?” I followed.

“Nah,” she said, tossing off the adage like a scratchy, old sweater on a muggy summer night, “priorities change.”

Related Posts