She sent me an email one day, a long time ago. (I believe she sent the same message to many friends, but I could be misremembering.)
My doctor said I should get more exercise. I’m going to try this thing called Couch to 5K. Care to join me?
I figured exercise was a good thing, since I basically sit for a living, so I followed the link she included, looked at the plan described there, and thought:
5K? Five kilometers? 3.1 miles? I can’t run from here to the corner!
But then I read further, and realized that on the first day of the program I’d have to run (or jog, or waddle, or whatever) for 60 seconds, then walk for 90 seconds, and then run for 60 more, walk for 60 more, and so on.
60 seconds–that’s the lightning round on Password. I can do anything for 60 seconds.
I finished my work for the day, put on some old shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers, and went outside to give it a try. Although by the fifth or sixth repetition of that 60-90 cycle my butt was well and truly kicked, I kind of enjoyed the experience. Half an hour, three days a week, nine weeks. Let’s do this.
I was into week 5 of the program before I learned that she’d hated it and given up long before. But I finished–in 16 weeks, not 9, but who was keeping score?–and was encouraged by the success and the thought that if I could do that, what else could I do? I continued, with a program called Bridge to 10K. And then trained for and ran a half-marathon. And another. And another. I haven’t tried a full marathon yet, but I hope to one day. I gave up old sneakers and cut-off shorts long ago in favor of specialized shirts and shorts and socks, and I actually have a favorite brand and model of running shoe. Eventually, she took up the program again; now she’s done 5K races with me and by herself, and we run together whenever we can.
There’s a Labor Day race in New Haven–20 kilometers, the national championship at that distance. That’s not far from the Country House, so I signed up to run in it, and she came to cheer me on. To say that it was humid in New Haven on Labor Day does no justice to the drippiness of the runners in that field. My running clothes aren’t as wet when I take them out of the washing machine as they were when I took them off when we got home. Drippy. Disgusting. Although my finishing time was not my best, it was very satisfying to finish safely under such nasty conditions. Which means, officially, that I am the 1327th fastest person in America at the distance of 20 kilometers. (Well, at least of those who entered.)
As she drove us home, we saw a billboard. “Is that the place with the awesome pizza?” she asked. Yes, it was; not the original location where we’d gone after shopping trips to Ikea, but another restaurant owned by the same family. “Wanna get pizza?” “Always. Especially after a race. But I’d like a shower first.”
We continued home, I cleaned up. We did some gardening and cleaned up again, and then phoned in our order.
We arrived at the restaurant to find the doors locked. There were plenty of customers inside, and closing time was listed as two hours away, so eventually we got the attention of the hostess who unlocked the door for us. I went to the counter to ask if our order was ready and waited patiently while the hostess discussed something with the cashier. After several minutes, the hostess looked up and was startled. “Oh!” “Yeah, me.” “I thought you were looking at a menu.” “No, just waiting.” I gave her my name, she pulled the boxed pizza off the rack; I paid and we headed home.
I’m not going to name the restaurant, because I’d like to think that what we experienced was an anomaly. I don’t want to believe the owners think that when your pizza is world famous, shoddy service is acceptable. It isn’t. We’ll try again someday. If it’s another bad experience, names will be named.
World famous or not, the pizza was excellent: thin crust, topped lightly with tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and sausage. (My salad, made with the last of this week’s CSA greens and green pepper, cherry tomatoes, and an avocado vinaigrette, was crisp and refreshing alongside it.)
Was this pizza better than we could have made at home? Different, certainly, considering they have a coal-fired oven that gets to 1600ºF, and we don’t. Also, we make our crust a little thicker. But on one of the hottest nights of the summer, after a long run and a lot of gardening, excellent take-out was worth the drive and the questionable customer service.
I’ve registered for a race over Columbus Day weekend in Hartford. Wonder if there’s good pizza there…