The first plot point in Apocalypse Now, one of my favorite movies, is when Captain Wilbur is informed that he is to go up the river and “terminate” Colonel Kurtz’ command. Explaining the necessity of this, Wilbur’s superior says, “Every man has a breaking point, Colonel Kurtz has obviously reached his.”
And so I reached mine this past Sunday. After almost two months, I couldn’t bring myself to run on the ice and snow in my local park and I was forced to do what is almost unthinkable for me these days: run long on the road. 100 minutes on rolling hills, 40 degree temps and the promise of a Super Bowl party lay ahead. I geared up, got it done and found myself pleasantly surprised.
Running gives me a familiarity with a place that I just can’t find behind the wheel. It was a little different when I drove the Jeep topless (the vehicle not me) but for the most part I might as well be in my living room for all the connection I feel to environment when driving. On my two feet, things are different, more specific, especially distance. I like smelling what people are cooking. I like to know who’s working their fireplace and I like to actually say “hello” to the people that are my fellow citizens. Many of them even smiled as I passed by, I choose to believe they weren’t simply amused at my full glory Mandex.
When I wrapped up my 13 and change, I felt like I new my neighborhood a little better. Depressed somewhat by the amount of homebuilding that took place in the 70s and the regrettable architectural legacy of that era, I was more effected by the satisfaction of knowing what surrounds me a little better. It makes me feel more responsible somehow.
This week, I’m on the road in Vancouver, Canada. It’s my first visit there and while I’m slightly embarrassed by the size of my bag, I’ve traveled ready to make the most of my trip. I’ve got ski boots, running clothes for indoors and outdoors, trail shoes and road shoes. Over ten days, I’ll be fairly flat out but I’m taking time every day to hit the road and get a little bit of the city into my bones. Stanley Park is close to my hotel and, at least from the pictures, it holds a lot of promise.
From Beijing to Normandy beach, I had some epic runs last year. Each one opened my eyes a little more, pulled me a little further out the ol’ self shell and cranked up my appreciation for “the breaking point” when change becomes essential.