By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
It was a bright June sunrise. Hot air balloons prepared to launch from Jamesville Beach. I started my run from Meadowbrook and headed toward Drumlins. As I crested the hill on Nottingham Road, I saw balloons in the air. I was too late for the launch. A strong, tall man ran uphill toward me, followed by his shorter partner a few zip codes behind. We exchanged greetings. The temptation to turn back with them was irresistible.
That fateful balloon morning shaped my running for years to come. The two men became my running partners. For the sake of anonymity, I will refer to them as Dave and Bobb.
Dave and Bobb are lawyers by profession. Like most runners, they have a contagious sense of humor. However, the similarities end here. In every other aspect, they are a tale in contrasts that make morning runs painfully hilarious.
Dave has Russian ancestry. His stocky build stands 5-foot tall. Bobb has Austrian ancestry. His athletic body stands over 6-foot. Dave starts his runs slowly, then tapers off. Bobb starts fast and pushes the pace. Dave is conservative religiously but liberal politically. Bobb is the opposite on both counts. Dave is a litigation lawyer. Bobb is a defense lawyer.
When it comes to running, the contrasts are even greater. Bobb runs marathons in 3 hours. Dave times his marathons with a calendar. Bobb has won a few 5K races. Dave holds the record for the fastest last-place finisher in the 18-mile Escarpment trail run. As a sidebar, Bobb always is fighting knee injuries, while Dave can run for hours without missing a beat.
Pre-race rituals are worthy of a mention. Bobb plans his races months in advance, allowing himself plenty of time to change his mind and back out. Dave is famous for running marathons on a whim. For a pre-race meal, Dave carboloads on candy, while Bobb has cow brains.
So, when I found myself running with these lawyers every day at 6 a.m., an entire new world of intrigue opened up. When the political news failed to provide a case for argument, sports and society filled the gap. Every run became an exercise in hilarity, as I fueled my distinguished partners in an endless spirited debate.
The educational value of arbitrating a daily legal argument exceeded the aerobic benefits of the runs. My well-read partners always had solutions to the problems of the world, from Lenses law to leash law, and from computer code to the tax code.
One morning, as we ran down Peck Hill, a neighborly Doberman pincher came after us. Bobb took off at full speed. I sprinted with him, questioning our chances of outrunning the Doberman. Bobb reassured me that we only needed to outrun Dave. Fortunately, Dave argued his case with the Doberman and lived to run another day.
Running lawyers are a common occurrence in society. Besides teachers and graduate students, the legal profession produces the largest number of distance runners in the country. Considering their status in society, it is no wonder many of them work on their speed.
As with all good things, my running partnership with the lawyers came to an end last winter. My move to the country created an impractical commute. Nowadays, we run together occasionally. The continuity of our briefs and arguments has been broken.
In every running book and magazine, experts urge runners to link up with partners. Beyond additional safety and security, partners provide consistency, a sounding board for ideas, relentless commentary, painless criticism, unsolicited opinions, and deaf ears to your pleas.
When I ran with the lawyers, every sunrise ushered a new day, full of promise and full of problems. Yet, every morning, I could count on Dave and Bobb being there, ready to run at 6, or make that 6:05, except on major holidays, or when it was raining.
Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at email@example.com.