WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 

Running Scarred

By Bob Woodiwiss · May 30th, 2007 · Estrangement in a Strange Land
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by bob woodiwiss

I run. Not fast, not proficiently, not impressively, but doggedly -- a polite way of saying I stop often to urinate on fire hydrants and shrubbery. My form, while never exactly elegant, has, apparently, improved over the years because it's been a little while since anyone's approached me with the question/suggestion, "Ever think about entering the Special Olympics?"

· · ·

As a sophomore in high school, I was on the track team, forced to go out for it by my father, who, ironically, I would've told to kiss my ass if I thought there was the slightest chance I could outrun him. But I was a large, bulky youth, on the verge of emigrating from Chubbylovakia to Tubbólardistan and , therefore, not especially speedy. How the coach put it was "You're fast for your size," which I knew even then was the running equivalent of "Your new haircut makes you look more hetero" or "Your cat's really smart for a cat."

· · ·

Yet, after several practices, to my surprise and dismay, I was designated the third leg of both the 440- and 880-yard relay teams (which in today's metric-centric track meets are, I believe, the 6 angstrom multidash and the 4 x 37-degree Celsius non-jump, respectively). This move was not so much a vote of confidence or cagey strategy as the act of a coach with a far, far more fatalistic outlook than one normally associates with prep athletics. At any rate, over the course of my track and field season, I saw more butts madly accelerating into the distance than a three-legged bull in Pamplona.

· · ·

Given my history and the way I still, to this day, pack in the calories, if I didn't run I'd probably be morbidly obese. As it stands, I'm merely glumly chunky.

· · ·

These days, I usually hit the streets four or five days a week, log eight or ten 10 miles per outing.

I've been doing the same basic schedule for nearly two decades. Not long ago, I sat down to figure out just how far I'd run in my lifetime and it came out to just over 6.2 million miles. It was at about this same time my wife informed me I could no longer prepare our taxes.

· · ·

I am not in training or on any kind of program. I don't need to be. Because I do not race. Ever. This I attribute to my total lack of competitive spirit, which, I've come to believe, must come bundled with team spirit, the spirit of cooperation, Christmas spirit, and The Spirit of '76, because I'm fresh out of those, too.

· · ·

Logging my miles solo, all by my lonesome, suits me best, really. There's something about the solitude, the opportunity for introspection, the rhythmic interplay of beating heart and tramping footsteps that's very Zen. In a more Western frame of mind, there's something about running without a bouncy, sports-bra'd, short-shorted babe by my side that's very Baptist.

· · ·

Occasionally, I do feel like some companionship, so I'll take my dog along with me. And, yes, it is great fun to be out there with him, galloping over hill and dale. Frankly, though, I'd like it even more if he weren't a Yorkipoo I had to carry the whole way.

· · ·

Living north of the Mason-Dixon Line, the cold, sunless, wicked winters often make running something to be endured rather than enjoyed. It can also be a trial to contend with the springs of endless showers, the summers of oppressive heat and humidity, the autumns of dispiriting decay and death. I'd move away, but as a congenitally disaffected misanthropic pessimist, this place has spoiled me.

· · ·

I only run inside on a treadmill when I have absolutely no other choice -- like when I'm the object of a manhunt or I find myself unable to locate the outdoors.

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In all my years of running, I've only suffered two serious injuries. The first was a Gorton's neuroma, a painful condition of the foot caused by replacing one's worn insoles with breaded filets of frozen fish. The second was something called mannix tyrannicus, which is the fancy-shmancy sports psychology term for the three months I was convinced I was being chased by Mike Conners.

· · ·

There's a lot of stress in a writer's life, the life I've chosen. Like: Are the wurds spelt rite? Is the emotional subtext of a given story better conveyed through a serif or sans serif font? If I write a piece that reveals the every ignominy of my life but I'm unable to find a buyer for it, how will I afford the Tinactin I need for my catastrophic, knee-to-navel case of jock itch? That's why running is so important to me; it's how I decompress. Along with fishing with dynamite.

· · ·

My best, biggest creative ideas come to me when I'm running. I'm still waiting to discover the activity during which detailed plans on how to successfully act on, finance, implement, and market those big ideas will come to me. So far, I know it's not ultimate boxing or stalking Jessica Alba.

· · ·

There are times I wonder if, someday, due to age and infirmity, I'll have to stop running. If so, I'll sorely miss it. Though I suppose if I were doing a rank order of what I'll miss, running would come in a distant third to youth and firmity.



CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)citybeat.com. His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.
 
 
 
 

 

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