A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven

I imagine autumn used to be considered a season of hard work and preparation, but with the onset of the industrial revolution and the invention of pumpkin-spiced coffee, it seems all that has changed.

Once a time for reaping the harvest, canning vegetables and chopping firewood in anticipation of the impending snowfall, fall has evolved into a much more sedentary season, full of rigorous, heart-racing activities like tailgating at football games and watching leaves die.

I think we can all agree New England is hideous in the fall.
I think we can all agree New England is hideous in the fall.

Don’t get me wrong – I love fall and the romanticism and lethargy it has simultaneously come to evoke in recent generations.

  • I love taste-testing two dozen pumpkin beers with a handful of friends and using such insightful descriptors as “has a slight pumpkin flavor” and “tasted wet.”
It’s funny how an afternoon of drinking sounds significantly less alcoholic when you call it taste-testing. Experience the power of words.
  • I love visiting a pumpkin patch and apple orchard with my handsome boyfriend and buying only a family-pack of donuts to share.
Fact: Ben closes one eye faster when he’s excited.
  • I love knifing produce.
“Make me a pie, woman. Literally.”

And that’s not all. I love lazy Saturday afternoons when the Notre Dame game is on. I love curling up in front of the fireplace on a crisp autumn evening. I love that I no longer sweat off my make-up at 7 a.m. waiting for the 4/5 train. See you in June, attractive upper lip sweat. (Eat your heart out, boys.)

But while for many city residents, fall has come to mean slowing down and resting up and taking some crucial me-time time after the whirlwind of summer, there’s at least one group of people who don’t get to sit back and relax all autumn long.

And that’s the marathoners. And political candidates in election years. And the apple orchard migrant workers, come to think of it.

Ok, so there are at least three groups of people who don’t get to sit back and relax all autumn long. But seeing as I only fall into one of those categories, we’re going to focus on that one.

Although a handful of the world’s most famous marathons land outside of the traditional fall racing season, like Tokyo in February and Boston and London in April, nearly every elite world event takes place during the September-November time period. From Chicago and Berlin to the Nike Women’s Marathon in SanFran and the Marine Corps in DC, nearly every major race is crammed into the autumn months, and New York City is no exception.

Source: http://nutritionsuccess.org/, which is silly, since I could walk three blocks and take this identical picture myself.
Source: http://nutritionsuccess.org/, which is silly, since I could walk three blocks and take this identical picture myself.

The fall racing schedule makes sense — the weather should be cool and dry, athletes have been able to train during the long summer days, it lets me justify the three servings of stuffing I’m already planning to eat at Thanksgiving — but it also means that for millions of runners, fall simply can’t be a season of indolence. Even once the tapering begins, a marathoner’s October days are still filled with workouts and stretching and nutrition and goals. Until we cross the finish line, fall remains a period of discipline and preparation, structure and hard work. In that sense, I guess marathoners are actually still a lot like our forefathers, working hard throughout the fall to reach a goal. In fact, I guess you could call our fall behavior vintage. Marathoners = the original hipsters.

Luckily, I only have seven more days of this necessary single-mindedness, and as of 2:00 p.m. next Sunday, I’ll finally be free to begin my season of idleness, better late than never. And I’m fully prepared to make up for lost time. I’ll be putting away my running shoes for at least a week after crossing that Central Park finish line. I’ll be taking off Monday following the race to lay prone in front of the TV. I’ll be buttering up my very nice boyfriend in an attempt to crash at his ground-level apartment instead of my fifth floor walk up for possibly forever.

But just in case that’s not enough indolence, I’ll also be flying to New Orleans in mid-November for a birthday weekend in the Big Easy. And if that’s not the place for leisure, I don’t know what is.

Seasonal lethargy is just around the corner. To quote the terrifying little girl from The Ring: SEVEN DAYS.

How are you making the most of your fall?

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