Runners get on my nerves..on my last damn nerve. Their whiny, obsessive, attention seeking ways drive me batty.
Yes, yes..we all can see that you ran 5 miles this morning, and thanks for sharing that race information sign up with us..I would love to fly to Ireland with the rest of you smug bastards and spend my time there icing and sweating my ass off. Hold my place in line, I’ll be right back..I promise. How’s about I join you there when you come to the YMCA at 6 a.m. and cheer me on while I melt all over the Stairmaster? Bring signs to wave, tell me you are proud of me. Yay me.
I once read a comment by a runner who was bitterly complaining about a race she ran..her complaint..they didn’t “place the medal around” her neck at the finish..they handed it to her…*gasp*. Horrors. I mean, after all, she had just discovered the cure to pediatric cancer..they should have bowed and then placed the medal, with a choir of angels singing and blowing their heavenly trumpets.
How did I know about her comment? Well, keep this under your hat..I am obsessed with the idea of being a runner..I secretly read the web sites, look at race times, and rejoice when the 40-plus crowd actually wins the race- beating thousands younger than themselves. Cool. I subscribe to Runners Magazine…shhhh.. because,I hate runners.
So, imagine my joy when my almost 50 year old husband decided he wanted to run a half-marathon for his big birthday..and shoot for a full Marathon after that. Great. I put my orthopedic surgeon friends on speed dial and regularly reminded him that he wasn’t running into burning buildings or fighting for our freedom..he was simply exercising…and if he posted every blessed mile he ran and basked in the “likes”..well, I would have to kill him. He, of course, posted his runs..thank you Nike App, and I secretly bursted with wonderment at this natural athlete that is Joe.
“Sign me up”..I said casually one evening. Joe was arranging his run details for the Half Marathon in the glorious St. Michael’s, Maryland. The running festival had a 5K option, and I thought we could make a couples only weekend out of it, and I could start my secret fantasy of becoming a runner..but he didn’t need to know that.
My training was, of course, derailed by a health issue.and Joe’s was seriously curtailed by an injury. We limped to the start line together..determined to just finish..who cared about the time? The Half-Marathoners went first…a kiss for luck..and the words that fell from my sarcastic, anti-runner lips, surprised me..”I am so proud of you”. When they blew the horn, I cried. Go Joe go.
We 5K folks went last. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of fanfare for us..and the mocking. “See you all back here in 15 minutes!” Yeah, right. From the looks of us at the back of the line- it was more like, “don’t wait dinner on us”. The horn blew..and my “I’ll just walk it” attitude disappeared..I was Forrest Gump on a mission. The thought of Joe out there, slogging away on his painful foot kept me pushing on..I was a runner. Yay me. When a dear friend met me near the end to cheer me on..I wanted to cry again..she was proud of me. Stupid attention seeking runner. My time was nothing to brag about..but I couldn’t have felt more smug.
I scampered over to hopefully see Joe come across the Finish Line..only to find that he had defied the pain and odds, and finished proud..earlier than anticipated. He was standing there with his medal ..(I hoped they had placed around his neck)..and smiling. We congratulated each other..he was happy for my little accomplishment too..and we raced to the beer fest..the mark of any good marathon is the celebration afterwards..St. Michael’s did not disappoint.
I watched Joe at the post-celebration..moving amongst the medal wearers..5K folks didn’t get medals..it was easy to separate the men from the boys with their sun kissed medals blinding us weaklings..He was enjoying his moment. I heard folks around me discussing their times and their aches and pains..and was just starting to get annoyed with the atmosphere, falling back into my “yeah, yeah, you ran..get over it” mode..when Joe came over to me..eyes looking a bit wet.. Great, now he’s full of himself too.
Before I could say, “I’m done”..he said..”Did you see that young woman pushing the stroller? She looks like she is having chemo..breaking my heart”…