During a typical week of training I run for five hours and bike for ten. To help pass the time I have started listening to audiobooks on my iPhone as I jog through the neighborhood.
I just finished every recording of the books and stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and this morning started listening to Fitzgerald. I am an hour into today’s run when Dick Diver tells an adoring Rosemary Hoyt “You’re the only girl I’ve seen for a very long time that actually did look like something blooming.”
I remember with a smile the first time I read that line. It was the summer before my junior year at Cornell when, rather than return home, I stayed in Ithaca working as a camp counselor and on three nights each week running with another ROTC cadet.
Her name was Val. We became friends after getting lost together while orienteering. Realizing we were hopelessly off course we folded the map, closed the compass and ambled through the woods until we came upon a set of abandoned railroad tracks that we were able to follow back to the parking lot.
We started running together soon thereafter and continued our routine until the end of the summer. We would meet at her apartment, run north past the fraternities and sororities that lined Stewart Avenue and cross the bridge over Ithaca Falls and enter Cayuga Heights. We would run for about 45 minutes until we reached President Rhodes’ house and then turn back.
There was no television at the boarding house where I lived so I spent the rest of my free time reading. That summer I read everything written by Leon Uris, Herman Waulk, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
When the summer ended so too did my runs with Val. She decided that the Army was not for her and gave up her scholarship. I would never again find the free time to read as much as I did that summer nor ever enjoy running as much as I did with Val.