Making field measurements requires both technical knowledge and physical fitness. Especially as I age, maintaining my stamina is a challenge that I meet by running about 25 miles a week. I have written a book about my running experiences and unusual places, due to my travelling, where I have been running. The book is:
“My Race Against Death”
By Norman Lieberman
Available from: Amazon
Cost: $19.42 (US Dollars)
One co-author, Phil Carmical is a professional running
coach in San Antonio, Texas. My other co-author is my
daughter Lisa Lieberman who is a professional
Now here’s another running story, it’s a new one so it’s
not in my book, maybe it’ll get into a 2nd edition someday.
It was the morning after Lisa & Mark’s wedding. My wife Liz and I
were staying overnight in the same hotel as The Happy Couple and
other friends and family down in New Orleans French Quarter. We had chosen to stay with the party even ‘though our home in Metairie is at
most only a 20 minute car ride away because, just like Lisa & Mark at least half the family had flown in for the wedding from out of state.
So the following morning I woke to find myself in a hotel room in the historic French Quarter. It took a few minutes for me to figure out
what I was doing there, then it all came back to me, ah yes it was the
morning after the wedding. But it was early, only 6am, and we had all planned to meet up for breakfast at 10am.
Nothing for it, I have to go get some kind of run, it’s the perfect time for that.
So I got up and pulled on my running clothes, sitting on the edge of the oversized bed I laced up my sneakers, and then set off for the outside world.
“I’ll try jogging around the City Court House and Lock-up a couple of times, “I decided. “That’s a bit less than a ¼ mile per loop, I’ll see how it goes, sixteen circuits might be a bit much around the same block but I can easily get in a couple of miles, that’s better than nothing.
By this time it was 6:30am. The only people out at that time of day were three street guys who were just setting up for the day while they ate their breakfast burritos and drank Starbucks coffee.
As I stretched, I studied their hand made cardboard signs:
- No Job
- Hungry – will work for Food
- Former local Government Administrator
(Actually I made that last one up.)
“Morning Captain! Out for a run? Exercise is the best thing for keeping fit.” observed the more senior of the trio.
The side walk around the city jail and Courthouse is one of the few streets in the city where time and neglect have not created multiple tripping hazards. Counting my steps (at 398 per loop) equated to 0.23 miles per circuit.
After I had completed my first loop I felt marginally recovered from the celebrations the night before.
“Keep-a-goin’ sir,” called out the senior panhandler, in friendly encouragement
Round I went again and sure enough the next time I rounded the loop the venerable gentleman waved and called out again with, “That’s the way, don’t give up!”
On the fourth lap, just as I turned on to Bourbon Street by the hotel entrance I heard a couple of loud pops “..likely, it’s fire crackers..” I thought – but didn’t pay too much attention, I was really focused on my running, and anyway there was my new found friend again giving me a cheery and encouraging wave.
So I kept making circuits round the loop. Each time I’d get back to the hotel entrance my new found friend would wave or call out some encouragement. I began to wonder, “Maybe I should always run in the Quarter? At least I’d get a lot of support from the locals.”
On the seventh loop, it started to rain as I ran past the hotel but I just kept going, and so did the rain. By the time I’d reached the hotel entrance the light drizzle was more of a New Orleans type downpour. I don’t like running in the rain, I’m ok with snowflakes but I don’t like the way the rain hits my face and my head.
I decided to go back into the hotel, but as I entered the lobby, I made an important observation:
I felt better!
Not mostly better, But entirely 100% better. Youth, strength and vitality had been restored. Death, my arch enemy had been vanquished.
I did a “U” turn through the lobby door, crossed Bourbon Street, and cheered on by the “Will Work for Food” trio, I decided to run the remaining nine loops around the courthouse, to complete my 4 Miles I had dry clothes in the hotel room, and it felt good to be out in the air and cleansing rain.
But, I’me really bragging. My adversary Death was not actually vanquished, but only distracted – or so I found out later.
On my fifteenth loop with just two more loops to go I noticed some guys stringing yellow caution tape by the front of the hotel, “Must be a pot hole,” I thought. I carefully ran round the obstacle and kept on running.
Loop number sixteen around the hotel and the courthouse: “But what’s this?” By now I found they had the yellow tape strung right across my path. “How awkward!” I thought, as I carefully side stepped around the edge of it and heard someone way behind me calling out,
“Hey You! Don’t cross that line,………”. But the rest of whatever the guy was shouting was lost in the rain as I ran on thinking to myself, “ Just as well I’m on my sixteenth and last loop, all that stuff with the yellow tape has become truly annoying.”
Eventually, soaked to the skin but victorious I returned to the hotel and rode the elevator, (Why not? I’de just run four miles), back up to our room on the 4th floor.
Liz was already up & dressed, by this time and so I took a quick shower, put on nice dry clothes, and we went down to find the others for breakfast.
When we met up with the others, all the young people were all talking and laughing together. “Ah what happy young people,” I thought, “it is indeed rewarding to be with such a group.”
“Oh there you are!” exclaimed my son-in-law Allen. Ched and I thought you might have been arrested.”
“What me? Why? What did I do?” I asked
“You only ran right through a crime scene – that’s all!” said Allen’s friend Ched
“What are you talking about?” I asked, thinking I must have stepped into a movie set or something and the whole thing must be a huge joke.
“Ched saw most of it.”, said Allen. “Only you could have done that.”
“What? Done what?” I turned to Ched looking for an explanation.
“You remember the room Jen & I had with the balcony overlooking the street at the front of the hotel? It was part of the suite of rooms used yesterday for the bride and the ladies dressing for the wedding – remember? You had to go up there to collect Lisa?” said Ched.
“Well yes, so what?” I really didn’t remember much about the rooms. All I could remember was how lovely my two daughters looked, one of them the incredibly beautiful bride who stood before me holding out her hand waiting to take my arm, even now I’m still somewhat dazed by the transformation.
“OK, so what?” I asked again, returning from my reverie.
“Well we heard a bit of a commotion in the street below,” said Ched. “Actually it woke us up. Jen got up to take a look out from the balcony, I followed and stood by the door going out to the balcony. There were a couple of guys arguing and smacking one another around a bit in the street below. Jen said, she a saw you running down there too. Then while Jen watched them arguing, all of a sudden one of them stepped back, pulled out a gun, and shot off a couple of rounds at the other guy. As soon as I heard the shots I pulled Jen away from the balcony and back into our room, but I was curious to see what was going on, so I stepped out there myself to take a look. But that was pretty much it, by that time. There was one guy in a hoody with his hood up running off away from the hotel and another guy walking away in the opposite direction down Bourbon Street cursing. I guess they must have both been drunk, because only one of the shots hit home and fortunately, even then, it only caught the other guy on the arm.”
“Oh, so that was why they were yelling, “Don’t cross that line!”….it was all coming back to me.
“Yes, that was it.”, said Ched. Then he continued ”I kept watching from the balcony. The two guys just ran off after the shooting, but right after that, the next thing I saw was you running along the street below me. Somebody must have called the police, because about half an hour later they turned up and started stringing yellow crime scene tape, and meanwhile there you were again running along the street below me. You nimbly ran past the guys with the tape in your running gear with your hood up looking like a hoodlum yourself. Then a few minutes later you ran around the corner again but that time you had to actually duck under the tape because by then it was strung all across the street. One of the cops yelled out to you, “HEY YOU!” Don’t cross that line, there’s been a shooting.”, but I don’t think you heard him because you just kept running and actually I think you stepped in the only tiny blood spatter that they had from the shooting as you passed.”
“So that’s what you’re all laughing about?” I asked. “Doesn’t seem too funny really.”
“Oh the shooting and the scuffle wasn’t funny at all, it was you, as ever, totally focused, and missed the whole thing – just ran on your way. That’s what’s got us all laughing. You’re incredible man!”
“Well, whatever you say.” I said, still a little mystified as I studied the menu – so that’s why Death was so distracted……