Rain is the killer of routine.
I learned to brave the elements, but the sunrise storm sounds like the end of the world.
Torrential downpours have punctuated every day this week, bringing chaos, fallen trees and canceled plans with every county-covering cloud.
The morning run moves to the afternoon, and the writing work meant for after lunch is now staring back from the monitor.
If the rain refuses to cease, I’ll either be forced to cancel all ideas of running today or hit the gym treadmill.
I despise treadmills with an intensity of a thousand burning calf muscles.
If running this frequently continues into the coming “polar coaster” of winter, I’ll have no other choice, but for now, I’m doing everything in my power to avoid the moving belts.
The second option is an indoor track on the second level of the gym, barely a quarter-mile, a continuous loop more monotonous than the motorized hamster wheel.
Walls of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the parking lot surround half the indoor track. In the distance, a clear view of an indoor shopping mall as much a part of my childhood as cartoons, the Catholic church and stand-up comedy on TV.
With every indoor lap, I scan the mall facade and think about the countless hours spent inside.
In the summer, weekly shopping trips with my uncle meant killing hours in the arcade, devouring issues of professional wrestling magazine, flipping through albums at Beaky’s record store, and KB Toys near the upstairs exit.
In middle school, I’d join random friends for continuous laps upstairs and down, loitering in search love, eager to talk to any girl, not from our school.
I don’t recall ever buying a damn thing.
I worked in a men’s clothing store on the second level during college – now called Express Men, but at the time, Structure – and spent more than half of every paycheck on clothing.
The mall became a refuge in later years, a place to kill a lunch hour and hide from whichever office job I hated at the time. “It’s still better than retail,” I remembered, spying some kid stacking folded jeans into a display wall.
The mall stores open at 10am. Being scheduled for the morning shift meant clocking in no later than 9:15 to assist the manager with folding all the clothes left in a pile by the closing crew.
The doors to the mall open to seniors interested in power walking the carpeted floors at 8:30am. I would laugh about how boring getting old must be every time I caught a glimpse of a morning walker through the gated store entrance.
Now, I count each indoor lap from a building across the parking lot.
Average Pace: 8:42