Sweat, Self-Doubt, Religious Fanaticism, and Sean Astin

“Mister Frodo! I’m a more compelling character than you!”

WEATHER: Dripping gross nasty blech.

MILES: 14.


WHERE TO: Palisades, Georgetown, Mall, Capitol, home.

MOOD: Dispirited.


I’ve been remiss once again, and I apologize.  One reason is that I wrote a post on Madam Sixpack’s blog, in which I talk not about running but about a fantastic book you should read.  But I partly blame, ironically, the running for my recent non-blogging-ness.

See, we’re entering uncharted territory in terms of mileage now…two long runs per weekend plus generally regular midweek runs = a new kind of tiredness.  I just got back from 14 miles, having done 22 or so with Rusty yesterday, and the feeling I have is a sort of irritating mixture of hungry-thirsty-tired (plus a little ennui) where I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO TO MAKE IT BETTER.  I find myself coming home from a run, showering, and then wandering into the kitchen, where I sort of spin in circles, grabbing a glass of water and then a jar of peanut butter and then a Gatorade and then a fistful of cookies and then just lying down on the floor and trying to nap, and yet none of it quite makes it all better.  Certainly blogging doesn’t make it feel better (no offense, my ever-hottie readers).

Four more months!  FOUR MORE!  This’ll be great!

But seriously, it was in the final, hot, exhausted hour of our run yesterday — the hour in which I think I threatened Rusty’s life at least eight times —

“If you sprint up that hill, I will kill you.”

“If you don’t find a water fountain soon, I will throttle you in your sleep.”

“Quit the chipperness or I will squeeze my hair out onto you.” (A fate worse than death, here.)

— it was during this hour that I started thinking about how scary this whole endeavor is, in an albeit small and sneaky sort of way.  The badness of it can just sort of trail behind you, quietly stalking you, but still you plug away, until you’re standing two blocks from your house and 21.8 miles into your run and Rusty takes off and your wheels, meanwhile, come OFF, and the gray creeps in around your field of vision and your fingers and nose feel strangely chilly and soon you are going DOWN, my friend, and when you half-faint, half-stumble-into-a-seated-position onto the sidewalk and make a soft “splat” noise because the ass of your shorts — and every inch of your body — is SOPPING because you are not only tired but nasty and also your shoes have been squishing since mile 8 PURELY FROM SWEAT dripping down your body and pooling there, well when your trusty running partner comes over and asks, “Oh my God are you OK?” and you clutch his also-sopping singlet and open your eyes really wide and whisper with an earnestness you never knew you was within your capabilities, “God has abandoned us,” well <END OF SENTENCE APPROACHING> you suddenly realize that you’ve crossed over from recreational healthy fun weekend warrior super lucky go! runner to one of those over-tanned, sinewy, paper-thin-skin, Garmin-checking-every-five-seconds running robots you see in packs of 20 on Hain’s Point, breathing in unison and talking about their best Ironman times.

I know, running marathons is a totally bourgeois thing that we privileged city folk do to win in office pissing contests and/or get lucky (sometimes both at the same time), so complaining is bad.  But it’s not complaining; more a kind of weenie sense of foreboding.  I’ve seen running-to-excess mow down many a wonderful person (most of them, yes, sadly, women), and so I find myself wondering when too-much-of-a-good-thing happens.  And also if I’ll recognize it when it does.  I mean, if truly crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, do veiny-running-gods/freaks know that they could be just as fulfilled by taking up needlepoint as they could by 70-mile weeks?

I have been trying to think of a good analogy for this.  One I’ve considered is the “Rudy” dilemma.  …in which you pick a goal and then stop thinking about WHY you’re trying to achieve it or how IMPOSSIBLE it is because you, my friend, were forced to watch “Rudy” EIGHTY TIMES by your seventh-grade basketball coach, and you know that if you work hard enough towards that TOTALLY REASONABLE GOAL, all of your dreams will come true, and you will eventually be rewarded by making the Notre Dame football team and seeing the proud tears in your father’s eyes and eventually getting to say things like, “Mister Frodo!  I won’t let you quit!” in a truly unplace-able accent.

Or the cookie dough dilemma, where you start this lovely project and you take a bite just to, you know, make sure it turned out OK, and it’s delicious so then you just keep eating and eating and you don’t know why but it’s so good, and yes, there are raw eggs and entire butter-sticks but Goddamn it is MAKING YOUR LIFE COMPLETE but ohhhhh God in 15 minutes when you’re shaking your fist at the ceiling fan and making plans to firebomb Nestle Headquarters for even MAKING half-peanut-butter-half-chocolate-chips (LIFE-CHANGING, kids.  Just saying.)…well, you’ll lose your train of thought, as I have, but you get my drift.

Or perhaps the Bible-Camp dilemma, where yes it seems like the right thing to do because Mom and Dad sent you, so you go and by the end of the week they have you deciding in a sort of creepy campfire ceremony to “redevote your life to Christ” (I still don’t get it.), which apparently involves a lot of people violating your bubble severely when they violently embrace you and cry and whimper on your shoulder about all the baaaaad shit they’ve done at the ripe age of 13, only then you come home and have this craaaazy look in your eyes and start burning all of the heathen objects in your home (Garth Brooks tapes, naked cherub tchotchkes, Ouija boards and really any Parker Bros. board game because you NEVER KNOW, am I right?  Christian-side-hug, my sister.) and asking Mom and Dad on an hourly basis if they’re “washed in the blood of the Lamb” yet and <climbs down from chair, whimpers on floor>.

Or the interminable sentence analogy, wherein you have this blog post and all these great ideas you want to fit into one larger concept, so you just sort of jabber on and on semi-fictionally about all this ridiculous shit that may or may not actually be useful or helpful to your readers…


The point — and I swear I have one — is that, aside from the hyper-mileage, the vigilance I guess also starts here.  I.e., when the thought of running makes me feel truly homicidal (btw, sorry, Rusty), maybe it will be time to…you know…find a new hobby.  Although cross-stitching really brings out my superbitch side.

Sleepy.  That’s all I got.


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