There have been times in the past when I’ve shot off my mouth, issued a promise or boast of one sort or another, and then had to follow through on it. But a few months ago, my mouth really outdid itself. We were in a bar—the Cock & Bull, over in Lakewood, if you must know—when a friend said she planned to run the White Rock Marathon on December 11. She asked if I’d pace her for the last five miles or so, to ensure she finished.
Now, you need to know this: I do not run. I mean, I play basketball. That’s 94 feet, from baseline to baseline. And sometimes if I’ve hit an errant tee shot, I’ll hustle back to the cart after I’ve clubbed the thing to death off in the woods someplace. But I don’t run run.
A marathon, though. That’s one of those things every guy has on his "Things To Do Before I Die" list. You can drop it into conversation and impress people. Like: "Chemo sounds like a bitch, man. Good luck with that. Did I ever tell you about the time I ran a marathon?"
So at the bar that night, I told my friend, "Five miles is nothing. I’ll run the whole thing with you."
That was Thursday, September 1. My friend called the next day and asked if I still intended to meet her at the lake on Saturday at 6 am for the training run. Even though I could barely recall her name, much less having promised to run a marathon with her, I said, "Roger that, friend. See you tomorrow."
On the way home from work, I stopped at Run On! and bought some fancy running shoes and a sleek dry-fit shirt and some of those Daisy Duke shorts that runners wear. Plus I got some wristbands, because wristbands are awesome. And the next day I did seven miles—of running. I talked to another marathoner I know, and she agreed that for a first outing, seven miles was a hell of an accomplishment. She said the White Rock might be within reach.
The following Saturday, I ran 10 miles. A week later, I ran 13. I don’t know if you realize it, but 13 miles is half a marathon. Look at me! I’m a runner! At that point, I pretty much sent out a press release inviting friends and family to greet me at the finish line.
Right. That was a month ago. At this writing, it is mid-October. So that I don’t have to repeatedly explain myself to everyone who knows I’m running the White Rock Marathon, here are the salient reasons I won’t be running the White Rock Marathon:
1. Right now, I am drinking a glass of Knob Creek bourbon on the rocks, which dampens my enthusiasm for getting up early and running.
2. Running is no fun at all. Seriously.
3. You run for two hours. See how your nipples feel.
4. I keep forgetting to charge my iPod.
5. Sometimes I forget to wash my special dry-fit running shirt.
7. More chafing.
8. There really is no reason to rise early and run if you promise yourself to go to the gym on your lunch hour and get in a vigorous workout, even if that vigorous workout never materializes.
9. After one particular run, my legs felt like they were made of glass. That’s unacceptable. I’m a father now. No child wants a father whose legs are made of glass. I’ve got to stop being so selfish and start thinking about my kids.
10. Knowing when to give up is a sign of maturity. I’m mature.
11. I thought it was going to rain yesterday.
12. When my 6-year-old son asked if I was going to win "the race" and I told him that, no, it would not be possible for me to win the race, he said, "Daddy, if you don’t believe you can do it, then you can’t do it." He’s right.
13. Every morning that I turn off my alarm and go back to sleep for another hour rather than get up and run, I hate myself for being weak. God made me. It’s not right to hate things that God made.
14. I have finished my bourbon. Doctors say that for men, two drinks a day is good for the heart.
Look, man, I trained really hard for about a month there. But when I die, it looks like the marathon thing will remain unchecked-off. Hopefully sometime before they put me in the ground, I’ll learn to stop shooting off my mouth. And my chafed nipples will heal.