Oy. I have such a cold. I’ve been hacking up what is optimistically pieces of lung for three days. Tomorrow is Saturday. Three out of the five kidlets will be at slumber parties. What I should do is lie in bed until roughly Sunday at 4:00 pm, surrounded by Kleenex boxes, Vicks vapor rub tubs and bags of Lindt truffles. What I will do is get up, shlub over to the parkway and run 13.1 miles in the freezing cold. Why? Because tomorrow is the Monster Dash Half Marathon. Because I have been training for the darn thing for months. Because I am incapable of not doing it. Because unlike other people who have a modicum of common sense and a strong bent toward self-preservation, I am unable to cut myself the slightest amount of slack. Also, the race sweatshirt is really, really cute.
I’ve recently become aware of Bart Yasso, the “Mayor of Running.” To sum up an extremely long career and a life marred, but not overcome, with personal challenges, Yasso was a premiere long-distance runner who contracted Lyme’s disease which ate away at his health until the right side of his body is pretty much useless, at least for running. The article I read in Runner’s World followed him from one of his last marathons (where he finished around the 4:20ish point with, to quote that evil periodical, “…the middle-aged and infirm.” Huh. For the record, my one marathon time was 5:59:58, which according to Runner’s World classifies me as “recently deceased” I guess.) and concluded with his inevitable retirement AFTER running Comrades, a South African long distance event generally regarded as one of the most grueling races on earth. So grueling that they had to install a rule banning participants from helping unconscious runners by lifting them over the finish line as people were unwittingly moving corpses.
And I’m supposed to stay home because of a head cold? Oh, hells no.
But it’s a tricky line, isn’t it? I mean, I just wrote about my struggles with my dear daughter who cries at the mere thought of failure. Don’t think that I miss the irony when I admonish her that, “No one is putting these expectations on you BUT YOU!” I know that my friends wouldn’t think less of me if I didn’t run. Hell, I could show up, pick up the sweatshirt and no one would be the wiser. But I would know, God damn it. So maybe my darling girl isn’t putting expectations on herself as much as absorbing them, amoeba-like from her crazy mom. Great. Just great.
So here’s the compromise I’ve made in my brain. I run it. I run it gently and for the enjoyment of it and I will not worry about how long it takes. I run it to honor the commitment I made to myself and also to show my daughter that there is a difference between failing and quitting. But mostly, I’m running it for the sweatshirt…. But you probably knew that already.