MANY years ago, my friends Lulu and Sheila talked me into running a 10K, which for the layman means 6 miles of pure hell. I protested at first...claiming that I was not a runner and that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but they were not taking 'no' for an answer...and well, if I'm being honest, I have to admit...I'm easily persuaded by friends...and others. You know that saying, "If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too!?" My answer is...It depends...on just how badly they really wanted me to join them...jumping is fun sometimes!
So, anyway... I prepare for this race by doing my regular workout routine and I run a little bit, too. A week before the race, I'm up to about 3 miles without stopping...and I'm starting to feel a little nervous. How was I possibly going to run SIX miles?!
I expressed my concern during lunch one day, "You guys won't leave me behind...right??" Sheila and Lulu both shake their heads with exuberance. "OF COURSE NOT!!!" I breathe a sigh of relief and relax somewhat. Lulu goes on to say, "This is going to be fun...Guess what?? I heard that everyone dresses in crazy costumes for this thing so I was thinking we could all get something together!" Sheila starts nodding, obviously excited. "Ooh! I just saw this BRIGHT pink t-shirt at Target that says in huge letters: 'RELAX! DON'T DO IT!!!' What if we all got those and wore them??" Lulu and I are liking the sounds of it, and I add, "Ooh! And how about skirts with knee socks!?!" More nodding. Then Lulu says, "And...how about if we all wear our hair in 2 ponytails with cowboy hats???" That was it...we had our crazy outfit for race day, and we were psyched.
A week later, we all pile in the car and head up to the mountain town of Prescott for the big event. It's a Friday night and the race is on Saturday. We eat dinner, have a low key night and head to bed early. As we pull up to our hotel...well, actually it was a motel, we survey the scene.
I look at the building warily and say, "Hmm...this place looks a little sketchy, Lu." She shrugs and says, "It was the only place with vacancy! I guess we waited too long to book a room. Oh well...I bet it's not as bad as it looks." We all nod, and head in. It wasn't as bad as it looked...it was worse.
The lobby is minimally decorated and as we look around for the front desk so we can check in, we notice that the cashier is behind THICK bullet-proof glass next to a sign that says, "ABSOLUTELY NO PETS!!! NO DOGS! NO CATS! NO BIRDS! NO GUINEA PIGS! NO LIZARDS!!" I was tempted to ask if I could have my pet monkey stay, but I refrained once I saw the unfriendly expression on the motel clerk's face.
The next morning we wake up early. We all get dressed in our matching outfits and head to the starting line. As I'm stretching, I take stock of the crowd around us....and I notice that no one...i mean NO ONE has said "crazy" outfits on. It was standard running gear as far aa the eye could see, Sheila, always the optimist said, "Hey, on the bright side, we will probably make the paper!" (She was right...we DID make the paper and the website...Lulu and Sheila are smiling like beauty queens and I look like a 300 pound heffer that just got poked with a hot iron...)
So the race begins, and I'm feeling pretty good, and I think to myself, "Wow...this isn't so bad! I can run! I'm a runner!"....and then we turn a corner and the next 5 miles are up a STEEP hill. I feel myself hyperventilating as I'm desperately trying to keep up with my friends.
After 10 minutes (ok, it was 30 seconds), I slow down to a walk, and grab them, signaling for them to remove their headphones. They look at me with befuddled expressions. "I (gasp) need (cough) to (sigh) walk (huff) for (puff) a (wheeze) minute." They look annoyed, but they agree. A minute passes. I've caught my breath, and Lulu says, "Ok, ready to run??" I nod, begrudgingly.
We run for a few more minutes and I feel like I'm suffocating. I slow down again, and Sheila also slows down, tapping Lulu. At this point, I'm doubled over. I shake my head, and barely manage to get out, "You...guys...are...freaks. Just...go without me." They shrug and start to put their headphones back in.
"YOU'RE LEAVING ME?!? I KNEW this would happen..." They laugh, and walk with me again...aaand this goes on for the rest of the race. I'm fairly certain we finished DEAD last, but I have to say..I was just thrilled that I FINISHED!
So, we cross the finish line, and immediately head to the pub across the street to toast our victory. One toast turns into a few.
We finally decide to tear ourselves away from the local watering holes so we can shower, get ready and head out to more bars for the night. As we are walking back to our motel, we see a homeless guy sleeping in the park, and I point him out. "Hey, look! A hobo! Reminds me of Chicago. Speaking of bums, how come no one ever says 'hobo' anymore??" Somehow, this discussion escalates into me wanting to become ONE with the hobo so I announce as I'm running toward him, "I will spoon you!!!" I cozy up behind him, resting on the soft, green grass, laughing hysterically... when suddenly, he wakes up...none too pleased to be canoodling with the likes of me. He sits up and starts flailing his arms as he yells, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?!" Instead of answering him, I scream and run away.
This is what extreme exercise does to me. I run uphill for 6 miles, and suddenly I'm assaulting innocent homeless men... defenseless hobos just trying to take a nap...
*Names have been changed.
Footnote: When I told my mom (who happens to have a touch of the OCD and is an extreme germ-a-phobe) about this incident, she reacted with complete and utter disgust. "ERIN ELIZABETH!!! You could have gotten fleas!!!" NOT you could have been knifed by a homeless dude's homemade shiv....FLEAS. I said, "Um...Mom, I don't think he had fleas." She wasn't convinced. "Yes, yes they do. Everyone knows that." I laughed. "PEOPLE have fleas?!? Since when??" She realized her mistake. "Well, body lice..." Leave it to my mom to use any situation possible to teach me the merits of good personal hygiene...