There are some people who love running, who relish slipping on nylon shorts and ill-placed headbands and pounding the pavement while the world sleeps. They talk of a runner’s high and buy shoes with spaces for each of their toes that make them look like retarded ducks. I am not one of these people.
Eighth grade was the first time I ever had to run the mile in school. I had played sports since third grade and was okay with running drills but pretty sure they had never amounted to a whole mile at once. It was awful. At first I tried running really fast to keep up with the feather weights who appeared to barely be making an effort. Then I slowed down, smugly telling myself I wasn’t completely exhausted but just pacing myself. I ran in the middle of the pack for awhile. Until I couldn’t run.a.single.step.longer. So I walked for a bit. Then when the teacher started yelling at anyone walking, I ran some more. I finished in about 8 minutes, a time that is considered decent for an adult running multiple miles but is pretty pathetic for a kid.
Around the time I was 20, I decided that by adding running into my gym routine regularly, I could scare my flagging metabolism into action and shed a few more pounds. I got up to four miles each run before I decided I was ready for my first 5k. What didn’t occur to me was that training on a treadmill does not prepare you to run outside anymore than frenching your hand gets you in shape to run a kissing booth, at least a profitable one. I also neglected to consider the race course itself, which was two loops going up a steep mountain in Knights Ferry, California. It was torture. I alternated between wanting to pass more runners and wanting to quietly slice open my wrists on the side of the road. But I finished. And not a bad time either
if you’re on crutches or in the over 50 division.
Since then I have “run” in a few more organized races, some 5k and some 10k. There’s one 10k in particular that intruiges me, The Wharf to Wharf, six miles stretching from Santa Cruz to Capitola. Though I have registered for this race twice, the first time my friends bailed on me at the last minute and I didn’t much feel like making the two hour trek to run alone and the second time…Well let’s just say the race is on a Sunday and my friends and I didn’t realize that this means even though you are in an awesome beach town on a Saturday night you should not play a rousing game of “how much alcohol can I consume before I’m likely to shit myself running tomorrow?” Of the three friends that had made the trip, only one was going to run with me. But when we woke up on Sunday, still drunk and feeling horrible, the runs we had in mind were more of the porcelain variety. Nonetheless, I was determined. I dragged her out of bed and we made it to the starting line. What happened next was an adventure I won’t soon forget. We jogged along at maybe 5.5 mph and were literally shoved and jostled by other runners for about a mile or so. Then we started to tire and slowed to a walk, vodka pouring out of our skin so fast that “tappin that ass” would have taken on an entirely new meaning. When she suggested a short cut through a trail neither of us knew in towns neither of us knew, I was game. The short cut took us about 20 minutes in the wrong direction, the only bonus being that we were able to stop for a bathroom break and juice at a small coffee shop/juice bar. We alternated jogging and walking and laughed the entire time, making it to the finish at just under 90 minutes.
Although I had an awesome time, I didn’t meet my goal of actually running the Wharf to Wharf. While I enjoy working out alone, I don’t relish the idea of travelling somewhere myself and waking up early to run alone. But last week while finishing a two mile
run jogjog/walk at the gym, an idea hit me: I would do the Wharf to Wharf this year with two people who would take the training so seriously that I’d have to do the same- my faithful long-distance workout buddy, who will soon reside in California and her partner, my very own brother. These two are not only as reliable as a 10-year old Hyundai but are more motivational than playing Eye of the Tiger and No Easy Way Out on a loop. For an entire run. Because that old guy started running before you and is still running and you can’t stop until he does or until you fall off the treadmill and why do you always wear either the too-big underwear that falls down during runs or the ill-fitting underwear that disappears into the recesses of your anal cavity?
I immediately sent my brother and his women texts and they said yes. It is SO ON. I am equal parts excited and pants-shittingly scared but
I think I can do it and hey, if worse comes to worst I know a great juice bar where I can hide in the bathroom until it’s all over.