Fun Run...Undone

There are about 640 skeletal muscles in the human body. That is a fairly accurate number, I am certain. Ask me how I know. Because this past Sunday morning, I was able to count each one individually as it screamed out in pain in response to my feeble attempt to reach the TV tray holding my breakfast of Ben-Gay and Bayer aspirin.

As I have ventured through life, I have realized along the way that the powerful and benevolent God of my forefathers left a few really big life lessons out of the printed scripture simply to be learned through experience. Just so we would appreciate the lesson more, I am sure. And I really appreciate one that I learned this weekend.

Thou shalt not run in races if thou art a 35-year-old man on a 265-pound frame.

I’m convinced that if God had sent Moses back up to grab a couple more tablets, this one would have made the list. But I guess ten was a nice round number, and I doubt the artists’ depictions of Moses holding the Commandments would have been quite so dramatic if he was attempting to balance three or four of those big old stones.

Unfortunately, I ignored the Maker’s obvious warnings and entered my rather rotund self in the Providence Corporate Cup in downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday, April 17. A “fun run” as it is called. Yeah, right. I’d like to meet the sadist who coined that term.

A quick glance will tell you that I am not built for running. My mentality for more than thirty years has matched my build. If God had intended for us to run around, He would not have blessed us with the lives of Édouard and AndrĂ© Michelin, Henry Ford, or Ralph “Mr. Cruise Control” Teetor. Nor would He have given us muscle cars and NASCAR. And running tends to make one sweat, yet another thing I typically try to avoid. (If I wanted to sweat, I would move the thermostat in my house above 60°.)

I have also observed the behavior and appearance of the “running kind” for many years. Ever take a good look at someone who just crossed the finish line in a marathon? He looks like the mob leader from Night of the Living Dead. And the local sports reporter always runs up to him for an interview four seconds after he’s finished the race, with responses sounding a bit like Darth Vader talking after a big gulp of helium.

Plus I had a bad experience with running while playing football in high school. I was a lineman, you see—an appropriate position for someone with a rear end as large as my own and a disdain for any two-legged speed faster than a brisk walk. In a momentary loss of judgment brought on by acute overdose on Little Debbie snack cakes, I ran too fast in an off-season drill and was “promoted” to backup for the position of linebacker, which meant—you guessed it—more running during practice.

But I digress.

So I entered the Cup—promoted as a means to increase corporate wellness—as a single member of a four-person team, my lovely wife a second on the same team. And I started training. (“Training” as used in this context is an obvious abbreviation of the term “train-wrecking”.) I quickly found out that my passion for running had not faded; I still hated it with every fiber of my being. But I did it. For six weeks, I built up from a half-mile clip, increasing my longevity by a half-mile per week. Finally, I was running 13½ miles per week, with three days a week reserved for a 3½ mile scamper. I knew I wasn’t going to be competitive, but by golly, I was going to finish.

And finish I did. On race day, I ran my fastest time of my uninspiring running career, completing the 3.1 miles of the race in just over 29 minutes, and finishing in the top half of the competitors. There was one small incident during my final “sprint” down the home stretch as one spectator, upon seeing and hearing me stumbling and heaving my way down in front of the Governor’s Mansion, alerted the local police officers on duty that a very slow, asthmatic bear had obviously escaped from the Baton Rouge zoo.

Which brings me back to Sunday morning. Halfway through my second course of aspirin over easy, my lovely bride came into our bedroom holding her laptop. “Hey, guess what! There’s a 5k over in Clear Lake that a girl from high school wants to enter. Are you interested?”

Sign me up, honey, and pass the heating pad.


  1. I'm running my first 5K next weekend. I have a feeling I will have a similar post-run blog entry.

    Off to look up the Clear Lake race.....

    Signed, Glutton for Punishment.

  2. very funny story with a serious core message: Exercise daily to stay healthy so you can support wife and family ! With that big success ( 29 minutes for 3.1 miles is awesome ) you should definetely do the Clear Lake 5k, any other outcome is a waste of your regained fitness and all the training effort. Don't give up this new asset


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