The calendar says it’s August but I can hardly believe it. Where has the summer gone? There are just about four short weeks left until the official end of summer.
The month of August is a time when we usually let go a little bit. A time to enjoy family barbecues, beers around a campfire, ice cream with the kids, hitting the beach, taking a nap in a hammock under a big oak tree and for just lounging around a bit more than during any other time of year. Living in Buffalo, NY my parents would often load up the station wagon for a family road trip to Lake George, NY, the Adirondack mountains, Cape Cod, Maine, Cedar Point, Hershey and the Jersey Shore. If you’ve seen the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation starring Chevy Chase you would completely understand the Giammusso Family vacation.
In Italy, this time of year is called Ferragosto or August celebration time. During ancient roman times it was a time which celebrated the harvest and the end of a long period of intense agricultural labor. Today, practically everything in Italy shuts down as the whole country is on vacation for the month. You will see signs in storefronts that read… “Chiuso per Ferie, Si Riapre il 1 Settembre” translated as Closed for the Holidays, We Will Reopen on September 1st.
It’s a time when Italians take a trip as they jump in their cars and hit the Autostrada. For me I was lucky enough to be traveling in Italy by Van during the Ferragosto. In 1987, my Mom & Dad took their five children to Italy for our summer vacation.
As most everyone else in Italy was relaxing, my mind and body were hell bent on preparing for my upcoming sophmore soccer season at the University of Buffalo.
During my vacation days in Italy, I would run in the streets of my Dad’s hometown of Campobello di Licata every morning for two weeks. The people of this very small town of 10,000 thought I was crazy! We don’t run in the streets here. The soccer field is the place to go if you want to run, my cousins would say to me. I didn’t pay too much attention. In the States we ran in the streets.
Today, I still get the itch to start training in August. I am 46 years old now and there is no soccer season to prepare for, but my mind and body tell me it’s time to get into shape and start training. I’m not really sure why I feel the urge to train, but it’s a regimen that I’ve followed for years. I get up early to run or bike around my town of Clarence, NY often running for 2-3 miles on old crickety knees or riding my mountain bike for 10 miles or more. There is a soccer field at the park just down the bike path from our home where I run wind sprints across the length of the field just like I used to do as a young athlete. I will bring a few soccer balls with me to dribble, juggle and even practice free kicks. After all, my Men’s hockey season starts in September and I have to try to keep up with those 20 year old brats (boy oh boy are they quick!).
Perhaps this regimen helps me to stay young. Whatever my reason it does make me feel good so I continue as long as I can. Billy Crystal played a character named Fernando on Saturday Night Live. Fernando’s infamous line was, “It’s better to look good, than to feel good!” Voila! That is exactly how I feel some days.
So for now I will stick to my August routine and continue with my personal workouts preparing as if there was a soccer season set to start. I may be a few pounds heavier and my hair may be a bit more gray, (okay a lot more gray!) but I’ve got to do, what I’ve got to do. So while August is a time to chill out and enjoy life, I will start my day with a run and a few sprints no matter where life takes me.
Buon Ferragosto everyone!