Friends have been checking in to see how my marathon training is going and how I’m feeling about it. “Stupidly optimistic” has been my standard answer, because, in truth, things have been progressing fairly well: I’ve completed all (well, all-ish) of my cross training workouts, the knees are holding in there and my long runs have been good and strong…

 At least until last weekend. Last weekend’s eleven mile run was, to use a technical term, sucktastic.

 Seriously.

 In an odd way, I suppose it was good to get it out of the way, at least as a reminder that any given year is going to have, at minimum, one horrible run. To my credit, I did not sit down on the running path and burst into tears as I did the year I was passed on a particularly heinous training run by the septuagenarian wearing black socks and leather dress shoes. (See? Progress!) Also, it might be wise to keep in mind that multiple bottles of red wine and roughly a gallon of guacamole does not constitute a proper meal the night before, even if one’s Bestie is in town and even if the guacamole is super, super delicious.

Not quite this much. But close.

 Hubby was kind enough to volunteer to run the first few miles with me, though I think his greatest assistance was in grabbing my arm and shepherding me out the door. I tell you what, when I opened the front door and felt the humidity that had already built up at six o’ clock in the morning (well, six-ish), I was ready to spin on my heel and head back to bed.

 It probably would have been wiser.

 But no, we headed toward the lake thinking, naively, that there might be some sort of cool breeze which might make the run more bearable.

Of course there wasn’t.

What there was, unfortunately, was an extremely perfect and perky twenty-something runner who blew right past me, ponytail jauntily swinging, her carriage admirably upright…I believe she was humming a happy tune as she ran past.

I felt Hubby cut his eyes sideways as I slumped forward in a posture of despair. He knows me well enough to understand that she was exactly what I did not need to see as I willed my reluctant, guacamole-filled, hungover self forward. Running wouldn’t be the least bit difficult if everyone out there looked as miserable as I do, you know. If every runner would just have the common courtesy to appear as if they were being repeatedly stabbed in the calves with fondue forks, or possibly attempting to jog forward while pulling a small foreign car. Were that the case, I would revel in the camaraderie of my chosen people. But, nooooooo.

 Instead, I had to contend with lovely, young things, blessed not only with, you know, talent, but also sunny and pleasant demeanors. Humming? I mean, good lord, how much exactly was I supposed to take?

 “I don’t wanna’ do this anymore.” I mumbled to no one in particular.

 About a mile later I saw her trotting back toward us, headed for home. Instantly, I pulled myself upright, pushed aside my extreme feelings of discomfort and affected an air of nonchalance. Yup. Out for a run. No big whoop.

 “Good morning!” she trilled and waved cheerfully at us.

“Good morning!” I chirped back, outwardly friendly and decidedly not at all grumpy-to-the-point-of-violence. Inwardly, however, I was all squinty-eyed, guns drawn and hissing– “I don’t need your pity, missy!”

 As soon as she was safely out of sight, I stopped running.

“That’s it.” I said. “It’s hot. It’s humid. I feel like I’m an elephant, running knee-deep in mud. Maybe I’ll just try again, tomorrow.”

Can’t…go…on…

 “Okay,” Hubby acquiesced with suspicious equanimity, “You know, people have to quit sometimes. They hurt their knees or get a cramp or sprain an ankle…”

 Damn.

 The only thing wrong with me was an overabundance of red wine leeching from my pores and a decided lack of enthusiasm. I retrieved my iPod from my running belt, put on the angriest playlist I could find and waved him back home, the diabolical genius.

 The next seven miles weren’t fun, but they were grimly satisfying. It’s great practice to keep running when every single cell of your brain is singing the “Let’s Stop Right Now” chorus. I just took it slow, didn’t push and finished the damn miles. I was so proud of myself for not stopping, that I didn’t even mind being passed by the gal in a giant knee brace, who was bent at a 45 degree angle and visibly wincing with each step.

 Hey. At least she wasn’t humming.

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The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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