I ran up the winding switchbacks of South Mountain, lungs ready to burst, barely noticing the Susquehanna Valley views. Ten more steps to reach the summit, where the city turned to country, and the country roads flattened.
Flipping through a jukebox in my mind for songs that kept up the tempo of feet hitting asphalt made running easy. It was 1975, and naturally the uphills syncopated to disco while the downhills and the flats eased into longer strides and slower beats. How sweet it is. Waving goodbye New York and hello to Pennsylvania at the state line, it was freedom at the age of 15.
Picking up speed — or so it seemed — it was time to return on a five-mile descent toward Binghamton City limits. No-one could catch me now, not even the free-roaming dogs, running as fast as I knew, fantasizing what it would be like to be Kathrine Switzer crossing the Boston Marathon finish. Reaching the corner of Vestal Avenue — shy of the Susquehanna River — I broke my own imaginary ribbon, then stopped, bent over, lungs screaming for air. Nine miles. Not bad for an adventure junkie.
Next stop, Fannies — the 5-and-dime store, where fair trade meant one dime for a creamsicle. I was in no hurry now, and running never tasted so good, one lick at a time.