Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Runner I'm Not

I went for a run last week. Recent weight loss tactics had been met with stiff resistance by my middle-aged body, and something had to be done.

I used to be a runner of some ability. Back then, I actually enjoyed going for a two... three... even four mile run on a regular basis. But my job, my age, a general tendency toward loafing, overindulgence, and a variety of other totally valid excuses had kept me from it for years—I was ready.

I went to the bike path in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning. It was good to be setting off on a run again, and I contemplated whether I should do a hard two-mile run, or pace myself and put in four.

I started strong, and other than the Clydesdale-like clip, clop of my flat feet slapping the asphalt, everything felt right. It wasn’t long, though, before I found myself desperately gasping for air, my lungs burning, as I simultaneously developed an alarming wheeze. I noticed there were colored spots dancing before my eyes (mostly yellow) and I had developed a tendency to veer left—a habit I was constantly reminded to correct when a tree limb along that side of the path would thwap me in the face (Yes, thwap is a real imaginary word). The stabbing pain in my side was rivaled only by the one in my back, and my heart seemed to be trying to evacuate my chest via my throat. I took my first break.

When I came to, I stood, brushed myself off, and foolishly continued to lurch forward. Glancing at my watch, I noticed that I had already put in eighteen minutes, counting my break, and I felt like I might be able to hang on for awhile yet, if I stopped another time or two along the way.

Twenty minutes into my run I took my second break. Doubled over, hands on my knees, I fought to maintain consciousness as I watched the sweat puddling at my feet and tried to decide if the ringing sound was in both ears, or just one. Bent like that, in the early dawn light, I could see a mark on the pavement indicating that I had run ½ mile. It then struck me that I hadn’t properly stretched before starting my run. In order to avoid unnecessary injury, due to my negligence, I decided the safest thing was to stop immediately.

Limping back to the car, I was menaced by a fairly sizeable dog, but I was pretty sure that being torn apart and eaten by the hound would hurt less than trying to run away, and I stoically maintained my gimping pace.

I must have looked too pathetic to be given serious consideration, even as dog food, because the dog stopped barking and stared at me for another moment before flashing a knowing, dog-smile and trotting away. He had seen my type on the bike path before.

That was last week. The chafing on my thighs is beginning to improve and I can feel my feet again. I’ve decided to give the abstemious use of food and drink another try. One thing is certain—there will be no more of this monkey-business of running.

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