Dr. J on Running

The Perfect Storm

23 November 2009

The perfect storm refers often to a statistically improbable coincidental alignment of random independent events that lead to once-in-a-lifetime event. Sebastian Junger wrote about the October 1991 perfect storm off the North Atlantic that claimed the lives of the crew of the fishing boat Andrea Gail off the Massachusetts coast. Economists coined as a perfect storm the recent influx of federal stimulus at a time when states were slashing funds for historical preservation projects. The Educational Testing Service labeled as a perfect storm the convergence of three socioeconomic forces: substantial disparities in reading and mathematics skill levels, widening wage gaps, and sweeping demographic shifts in education and skills.

My perfect storm refers to an unusually favorable alignment of interstate travel hassles to permit a rare November 7-mile run in shorts and short sleeves. It started with a 0500 breakfast and an uneventful ride to the airport. The open parking lot had numerous open spots, so I arrived to the terminal at 0545 for my 0710 flight to Chicago. I bypassed the long lines at the airline counters, and I proceeded to an empty security check-in with my home-printed boarding pass. I reached the gate at 0555 as the last passenger boarded the 0605 flight. I inquired about the availability of an empty seat, and buckled myself next to a 300-pounder sprawled into a third of my space.

Despite 20 minutes to de-ice the plane, we landed early in Chicago. The 0720 connection to Dayton began boarding as I negotiated my way to an empty seat onboard. We landed an hour later, picked up a rental car, and drove to the hotel. For the first time in memory, traffic flowed smoothly on an I-70 free of roadwork. My gold member status allowed an early check-in at 1030, three hours earlier than planned.

A 50-degree thermometer reading ushered a light frolic on the trails. I changed promptly out of my business suit into running shorts and a T-shirt, and sprinted out of the hotel at 1048. I crossed the main road onto the campus greens, and I ran freely on the grass with a four-and-four breathing pattern.

The hotel running map showed a 4.3-mile bike path skirting campus. I weaved my way from lawn to lawn, until I reached the trailhead 32 minutes into my run. Not in the mood for pushing my luck today, I turned back towards the hotel, and finished my 7-miler in negative splits at 1150. After a hot shower one of the pleasures of running - and a skim cappuccino and grilled chicken salad, I returned to my room by 1250. This allowed me time for a 40-minutes nap before my original flight landed.

Needless to say, I went to my 1430 meeting in an incredibly buoyant mood and an obvious runner high. On a trip when I doubted I would find time or place to run, a perfect storm gave me the best fall run I can remember.

Dr Kamal Jabbour snuk in another run in the dark the following morning before catching a return flight home. Dr. J receives email at kamal@jabbour.org. His RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever the endorphines move him to write.

© 2009 Dr Kamal Jabbour