I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty reasonable person. Turns out I’m not. Go figure!
Other than occasional (failed) attempts to add jogging to my (then non-existent) exercise routine, I started running in 2013.
On a whim, my husband signed up for the Vermont City Marathon and in the spirit of spousal support (and perhaps a little co-dependence), I recruited friends to join me in a five-person relay. I trudged through hours on a treadmill at the gym that winter, slowly building up to what –at the time – seemed like the ungodly distance of 6.2 miles. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.
What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
Flash forward to a few short weeks ago when I found myself running in another five-person relay. This year I was the first leg, giving me plenty of time to plan for an afternoon of extreme cheering. My family was camped out in front of a friend’s house at mile 18. We had signs, we had ice, we had children with bells — our friend even had a trombone. Yes, a trombone. That’s just how it’s done in Burlington.
Now, I’ve never run a full marathon, but if that day was any indication, mile 18 is not the mile when marathoners are likely to say, “Tra la la! How delightful it feels to be out on such a lovely run on such a charming day.” Four hours after the gun, folks were looking grim. They were hot. They were sweaty. Really, a lot of them looked damn close to miserable.
The sky was full of nothing but sunshine and, while it was doing wonders for me, they looked like unwilling companions to Icarus’s fateful flight. We started handing out ice from our cooler.
As folks came into view, we’d start shouting, “You’re awesome! Want some ice??” to which most replied with a weak “please!” a gratified grunt, or, in one case, with utter silence followed by a slow lifting of the hand that seemed to require an inordinate amount of strength.
You would think the reasonable onlooker’s response would be, “Wow, I sure am glad I’m standing here with my snacks and and cheering instead of running like those suckers!”
I guess I’m not reasonable.
I found myself shouting,
“You’re DOING it! You could be sitting on a chair at home but you’re RUNNING a MARATHON! You’re AMAZING!”
And I meant it. Like, really meant it. This was no half-hearted cheer or idle cow-bell-ringing. I was moved. Inspired. It almost hurt to feel how proud I was of these strangers running by me.
So, in a moment of delirium inspired by triumph of the human spirit (or perhaps the noon-day sun), I leaned over to my husband and said, “I’m in. I’m going to run a marathon.”
When, with eyebrows raised, he extended his pinky finger toward me. I did the same.
And I don’t take a pinky swear lightly.