Thursday, April 20, 2006

Friday Musings

Man, this street playing is great and all, but it's really cutting into my blog time. If I had a real job, I'd never post!

Or maybe I'd post three times a day. Probably the latter.

Playing the street during the week means that our audience consists mostly of tourists, retired people, high school kids (spring break this week), and mothers (or nannys) with rugrats to spare. I've been blown away recently by the extent to which strollers have developed in the modern age. Seems like just recently, stollers consisted of an aluminum frame, a seat element for the rugrat, four wheels, and handles. Now, the things have blown up into impregnable, high-security ATVs. The tires on these things look like a miniaturized version of what you'd see on a front-end loader. They can roll over anything in their path: logs, small animals, shallow streams, French cars, etc. Who knows what kind of top-secret, space-technology alloys they're using in the frames; the plastics and metal alloys have a look nothing short of alien. And the seats, I believe that these and their fastening systems took inspiration from what can be found in a Stealth bomber. Strap that kid in, and he's safe! Any one of these juggernaut baby-carriers would probably stand a greater chance of surviving a roadside IED than any of Rumsfeld's armored Humvees in Iraq. I even saw one today with an M60 mounted on the top.

What ever happened to red wagons?!? Throw a pillow in there and junior'll be fine. I just can't imagine spending more on a stroller than might be spent on a decent used car. Then, after a couple years it's time for the little brat to walk, and the stoller gathers dust in the basement. Can't exactly drive it to work.

Regardless of design or sophistication, strollers present themselves as quite the obstacle for the urban runner. I run a few times a week on the beautifully-resurfaced track in McCarren Park. It's undeniably wonderful to have something like that only a quarter mile from my house, but running there is a bit more like going through a basic training obstacle course. Unless one gets out at 7 in the morning, which I've never done and probably never will. First, there are the strollers, at least 5 or 6 young moms wheeling their kids around the track at any given time. An obstruction, yes, but slow-moving and easy enough to dodge. Same with the walkers, just a smaller profile.

In the middle of the track are a couple soccer fields, constantly in use, so one usually has to duck or return about three or four errant balls per lap. This can actually be pretty fun; I try to chase down and kick back as many as possible.

Then it gets hairy. Little kids. Loose and wild. Some of these smudgy-faced rugrats have absolutely no conception of the pain they could experience in a collision with someone three times their size. They'll just walk onto the track, wander around, no idea that four joggers and a pack of stampeding water buffalo are bearing down on him. I've never had to jump one, but it's come close.

After surviving the unpredictable-movemented children, one then advances to the next level: bikers. Does someone really need to put up a sign saying, "No bikes on the track"?? I thought that one was a no-brainer. I mean, who shows up to the YMCA swimming pool with a kayak? Sometimes it's people racing around on mountain bikes, other times there will be three hooligans on a dirt bike (one riding, one on the handlebars, one standing on the rear pegs), lazily winding back and forth across the lanes, completely oblivious. I am surprised that I haven't yet seen a serious bike/runner or bike/walker injury. This is the only time I feel slightly malicious and wish I had a long broom handle to stick in their spokes.

I'm still waiting for randomly-appearing spikes or boulders or snake pits, maybe javelin-weilding knights on horseback. That would make for the ultimate workout. For REAL.

2 Comments:

Anonymous jjm said...

Dave -- When Rumsfeld goes to Iraq, he doesn't ride in a Humvee... He rides in something called a RhinoRunner http://www.labock.com/english/vehicles.htm.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Peck's Extreme Ultimate Workout: Shot and a beer, shot and a beer, shot and a beer, run a lap, shot and a beer, run two laps, puke, run a lap, shot and a beer, run five laps, repeat. Fighting with workout buddies is encouraged. So is pushing over idiots on bicycles or kayaks or throwing bourbon in their eyes.

9:17 PM  

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