Quote of the Day: “Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.”
- Evan Esar
Not long after I started working at Headquarters, a civilian came into my office and said “Is that your blue Saturn with the 26.2 sticker on it?”
Ever since that fateful day, I found a running partner. Today, I joined him as we met the running club he….runs with. They are called The Running Group and even have a website as you can see.
I got the directions to today’s run (it differs every week) and met George there. He is not satisfied with a paltry 10 miles so we showed up an hour early to get 5 extra miles in so by the time I was introduced to the group, I was winded, sweaty, and tired. I make quite the first impression.
Speaking of first impressions, I bonked on the run. We got about halfway there and I couldn’t keep the pace with the others which is no real big sin since there are runners with varying abilities but what really sucked is that I was all alone and the path had taken so many turns (we ran through a lot of residential) that I would never have found my way back alone.
I stopped and waited for George to return and got a rest in but I was worried that he was taking another path back so I joined another couple of runners on their way back, cussing George the entire time.
I had nothing to prove to anyone and didn’t want to destroy myself. I had forgotten my Camelback so I was hurtin’ for water but I took it easy and before long, George caught up to me.
“Fuck you, George.”
Actually, I was a bit more congenial than that, although I was too happy to have bonked on my first run with the group. No matter, I was not going to completely fall apart over this. I was in the shape I was in and this was the biggest run I had in a long time. So what if I shit my running shorts.
At the end of the run, I was keeping up with George and the last mile really sucked. We sped up and finished strong but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see the end as something near paradise.
And it was.
It was at a popular beach and once again, I discovered that I was part of the minority by not being stunningly gorgeous.
After trying not to look like I had just washed up on the beach from a solid waste barge sinking in the bay, we changed over and went to breakfast. The group was all there and I ordered whatever sounded the best on the non-traditional menu. It was a bit of a natural, healthy beach café so there were no Lumberjack specials. I had a scramble with cracked wheat bread and enough coffee to drown a horse.
It was then I made a startling discovery.
Remember that video by Blind Melon and their song “No Rain?” The fat little girl in the bumble bee outfit goes around being rejected and then open a gate where a bunch of freaks in bumble bee outfits are dancing around in a field?
That’s what happened and boy did that outfit chafe.
Actually, my explanantion goes something like this.
I’m a lone runner. When I started in 29 Palms, most of my long runs were me alone in the desert. In Monterey, I would run for hours with no one but my music. In Virginia, it was out in the TBS Hinterlands all alone.
When I would bother to talk to anyone about my running, I would get strange looks. No one could wrap their minds around 4 hours of running. No one wanted to talk about chafed private parts, painful dehydration, leg cramps, running until dizziness warped reality, or the beauty of seeing the mist settle in a low spot in a field and the first rays of the morning sun glinting off the dew-soaked foliage.
No one knew about the life-providing Nirvana of Gu when you really need a shot. No one understood how Lose Yourself can pace you up a full minute per mile or how Butterfly Kisses or Amazing Grace played on bagpipes can make tears leap out of your eyes at mile 15.
But sitting at the breakfast table by the beach today, I found my fellow bumble bees.
I made this realization when I heard some one say “I’m only running 4 days a week now” without a hint of sarcasm or bragging. I heard other conversations that I’ve only had with myself usually up in the teen miles. They all knew about the suggestions you send down to your legs and hope for the best when times get tough. They knew about the early Friday bedtimes and the prepping in the dark when everyone else in the house are still looking at 4 more hours of sleep.
One guy had the 7th longest streak in America for running every day. Something like 20 years.
I was no longer the last Mohican. I was now a very tiny Indian in a very large tribe.
After I was done and as full in my stomach as I was in my heart for finding these people, I bid George farewell and headed for home and looking forward to a couple hours of sleep. Happy or not, I had still drained my body of all its power and then filled my gut with food. This meant one thing: Sleep of the Gods.
When I got to my car, there was a message on my phone. It was Jeanie, the mother of a recent graduating Marine who had been reading my webpage and blog for a long time. She was in town and wanted to meet up with me and have some coffee.
OK, I had coffee before the run to jump start the old engine. I had the horse-drowning amount at breakfast. I was full, I was tired, I was filthy, and, and….. and I just couldn’t stand up Jeanie. She and her son wanted to meet me and I them so I called her back and made plans to meet her at Starbucks (of course).
Our concept of Starbucks was a bit different. I thought she meant THIS one when in reality, she meant THAT one. Great, that’s all I needed was to hobble out of Uranus and stumble into the wrong Startbucks only to discover my mistake and have to get back in and find the right one.
When I did, I walked up to Jeanie and her son who were sitting at an outside table. We made the proper introductions and within a few seconds, Jeanie was gone to go get us some coffee, leaving the very junior Marine to sit with the very tired, very filthy Captain.
We talked… OK, I talked. And talked and talked and talked. I babbled forever until Jeanie got back when I just continued. I must have talked about 90% of the time and I don’t know if I was just punch-drunk tired or what but I just couldn’t shut my big yap. They had to be thinking “Criminy, was this a mistake! This guy’s got diarrhea of the mouth.”
Pausing long enough to take sips of my coffee, this went on for hours. At one point the dehydration I had from running, sitting out in the heat, and talking my fool head off caused one of my hamstrings to go ahead and, yeah, knot up tighter than a drum.
A very embarrassing, painful, conversation-pausing drum.
Jeanie finally called uncle at the 2 hour mark or so and I thanked her for some wonderful conversation she hardly took part in. She brought me some gifts in a bag that every man just thinks is FABULOUS which contained a thank you card I bet she wanted to take back, a gift card for Borders, and of course, a Starbucks gift card.
In return, I had been so thoughtful to get her…. nothing.
Oh, except 2 hours of verbal vomit in the sun.
That’ll teach her to look me up and let that be a lesson to the rest of you.
Free Advice for Today: “Make allowances for your friends’ imperfections as readily as you do for your own.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.