The Running Man
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My life is filled with many challenges: maintaining my career, raising a family, dodging the catís morning fur ball. Sooner or later, there comes a time in a manís life when he feels a certain sense of complacency and a new set of challenges are welcomed.

My suburban sedentary lifestyle was taking its toll around my midsection. So I challenged myself to join in the ďBattle of the BulgeĒ and start a daily running program. I tried to remember the last time that I actually ran. I recalled exerting myself once back in the summer of 1998. Hal Dibner invited all the neighbors over for a backyard barbeque. Edna Krandall showed up with her feisty Yorkshire terrier, Mr. Beasley. For some reason, Mr. Beasley had an insatiable desire to start a family with my right leg. I rebuffed his amorous advances with several kicks to his stomach but this only seemed to entice him further. He chased me around the yard for several minutes. I ran to the front yard and gave him the slip somewhere in the landscaping. On my way back to join the barbeque, I saw that Mr. Beasley had decided to satisfy his procreative itch with an unsuspecting yard gnome.

  
 
When starting a new activity, I read somewhere itís a good idea to keep a journal to monitor oneís progress. The following is an excerpt from my running journal. This particular page is from the first day of my quest for a healthier new ďme.Ē

GOAL: One mile

TARGET COMPLETION TIME: 12 minutes

DATE: September 12, 2006

TIME: 8:32 a.m.

Down the driveway, off and running. Feel good, good stretch. Cool morning, no wind. Legs feel good. Wave to next door neighbor, Mark. He tosses me an apple from his apple tree. I eat the apple; healthy, crunchy...good energy.

1/8 MILE: Breath getting heavy. Pins and needles sensation on both knee caps. Feel a little cramp on right side. Canít seem to control steady flow of nasal secretions. Apple might not have been such a good idea.

1/4 MILE: Coughing up some kind of gelatinous wad. Breathing has given way to wheezing. I sound just like Teddy Flynn after running the 600-yard dash in the fifth grade, just before he required a blast from his puffer. Promise to quit smoking TODAY! Remember that I donít smoke. Edna Krandall and Mr. Beasley pass right by me on their morning walk. She moves good for an 82-year old woman...works that walker efficiently. Nose has dried up, along with mouth and eyeballs.

3/8 MILE: Breathing has become optional. Decide that air is way overrated. Second wind is coming on. Here comes the endorphin rush. Not much of a rush. More like a trickle. I think only a single endorphin has leaked out of my brain and has settled in my left nipple. Entire body feels like its been through a rock tumbler but my left nipple feels fantastic! Wife drives up and has me sign for an increase in my life insurance policy. Starting to have second thoughts on whole running thing.

1/2 MILE: Euphoria has disappeared from left nipple. Both nipples feel like theyíre crimped with jumper cables. Lost all feeling in lower extremities. Praying that moisture running down my leg is only sweat. Mentally offering my right testicle for one short blast from Teddy Flynnís puffer. Promise God I will attend mass daily if He helps me survive this ordeal. Thighs are clapping together in a rhythmic slapping of flesh. Not alone anymore. Grim Reaper has decided to keep me company.

5/8 MILE: Reaper has bailed. Pansy! I am alone with my thoughts now. My thought is to kill myself. Promise God I will move to Vatican and become the Pope. Constant pounding on pavement has jarred my internal organs loose. Can feel pancreas and spleen settling in next to my ankle. Only inspiration to fight on is the steady supportive applause coming from my clapping thighs. Start to think that I am unusually tall, Asian and that later today I have a Squash match with Donny Osmond.

3/4 MILE: Reaper is back, way down the block, impatiently tapping his foot on the sidewalk, looking at his watch and shaking his head in disbelief. I am now legally deaf. Heart has decided to take five. Liver has taken over life support systems and bile is now coursing through my veins. Tendons and ligaments in knees have snapped and I now look like a break dancing marionette puppet.

7/8 MILE: Almost home. Passing Dibnerís house. Grim Reaper couldnít wait any longer so he took Edna Krandall. Serves her right! Show off. Thatíll teach her to pass me up. Havenít seen anyone move a walker that fast since they carted out a fresh pineapple glazed ham at the Old Country Buffet. Mr. Beasley has rekindled his passions with the yard gnome. I am now the Pope. Have decided to hunt down Teddy Flynn and beat him senseless. I start to smell the color brown and it ainít good!

FINISH LINE: Home sweet home! Jog by Mark. Return apple via projectile vomit. Stop at driveway and check pulse. There is none. Lay on lawn and recover slowly. Heart resumes control of blood flow. Mental clarity and feeling in lower extremities return. I abdicate my claim on the Papacy and recall mental sacrifice of my testicle. I survived!

COMPLETION TIME: 43 minutes

Looking back on the page of my journal makes me realize some important facts: Iím not Asian, Teddy Flynnís days are numbered and I can take comfort knowing that I am not a yard gnome.

ď...there comes a time in a manís life when he feels a certain sense of complacency and a new set of challenges are welcomed...Ē and running is not one of them...



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