Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Marathoner's Notes

"I'm hoping to meet some ladies during the Chicago Marathon on Sunday."

"But they'll all be running away from you," my mom replied.

"And that's different how?"

I have heard from some female runners I know that when they need that extra motivation during runs, when they just want to quit, they envision that I'm chasing behind them asking if they are free this weekend.



With that encouragement, I woke before the sun to take the blue line into the city on a Sunday, which doesn't sound very appealing. But the annual Chicago Marathon proved too alluring. As someone who has never run a complete mile, I can't fathom the appeal of running 26.2. The Young Alumni Club organized a group of volunteers to work the finish line and I gladly seized the opportunity to see the masochistic saga first-hand.

After a fair amount of wandering looking for the volunteer tent and my group I finally found my posse.

Among my recollections and lessons from this day:

Possibly one of the most rewarding moments came when I spotted two Aussies crossing the finish line. My duty was to provide cool, wet towels to runners to aid them in the cool down process from the atypically warm Fall day (low 80s). As soon as I spotted my soon-to-be fellow mates I hustled over to them and gave them towels. I detected an awesome accent when they thanked me and decided now wouldn't be the best time to discuss my plans to come down under next year.

The easiest way to boost self-esteem is to volunteer. I had people praise me for giving out towels and thank me for helping. Being appreciated fuels the soul. Some called me "God-send," I said "No, my name is Andrew." Others asked for God to bless me. I'll take it.

Running a marathon is a religious experience. Apparently atheists don't run marathons because everyone seemed to be praising the man upstairs or the divine blessing of cold towels.

Marathons discriminate against the obese.

At least 45,000 people are more fit than me.

Never underestimate the power of a hose.

Yes, you can get a sunburn in October.

Marathons aren't pleasurable. I saw very few people with smiles at the finish line.

Finally, marathons aren't motivational. Today only confirmed my policy on mobility. There are certain things the human body was not designed for. Running 26.2 miles is one of them. My firm belief is that there are better transportation options for distances greater than half a mile. I will gladly walk distances less than 2 miles. I will bike distances between 2 and 6 miles. For everything else there is the automobile and public transit.

The only digits I got today were those on the bibs of the runners.

2 comments:

ML Smith said...

Hey, Sleep Less,

You run ,marathons too? I've been running them since I was a kid...now my knees are shot so I have had to cut back to sprints...5and 10K races.

I like your spot. You have that special sarcastic quality that I seem to gravitate to - maybe because I'm a sarcastic SOB from the get go.

Try to visit my spot, Unprotected Textual Internetcourse. You might find some of it interesting, or you might think I am insane.

Wait...I forgot; I am insane. Well I'll be dipped in fecal matter!

I don't sleep, but I can't drink...it makes me sick. There are other things, though.

Um...I'm writing a novel and need a collaborator. Someone slightly over the edge...perhaps you'd be interested. For money, I'm an OP-Ed columnist for a local newspaper. The editor is insane too; he prints things I write that should get him fired. Well...both of us. But I love it. Writing outside the box of convention is great fun, if you get my drift, which most people don't.

ML Smith "buytextual"
smthmort@gmail.com

ML Smith said...

My God, what have we done?

August 9, 1945
Altitude: 22,000 feet

“Tom, how does it look down there?”
“Can't say, Paul. This cloud layer is a lot heavier than we anticipated.”
“Ted, how do we look?”
“You're off, Paul. Make an easy 180 heading due north and climb to 32,000.”
“Tom, let me know when you're clear.”
“Alright. So far we got nothing. We may have to make a go-round until I can get a good look.”
“Ted, can you give me a ceiling on this cloud layer? I may have drop below.”
“Check. Looks like 7000 or 8000 feet, but we should clear 15 - 20 miles out.”

The Enola Gay buffeted against a strong wind from the north, making it difficult for Paul to maintain course. He had flown blind before, but never in the new B-29, an aircraft that was drastically altered to carry a heavy load that included Little Man and a crew that was larger than usual. The Enola Gay was cumbersome and difficult to handle, but she held her own at 32,000 feet, despite the brutal headwind. Below us was a thick cloud layer that made it impossible for the pilot or the bombardier to see anything but gray overcast.(cut to:)

It seemed like only moments ago that we had roared down that rutted runway in the pre-dawn mist on Tinian Island. Paul had his favorite smoking pipe and the usual supply of cyanide tablets. We all knew what they were for and hoped there would be no reason to use them. We had made two flyovers last month, and people on the ground seemed to regard us as a routine nuisance. Some of them even waved. We didn’t expect any anti-aircraft fire.

When we lifted off, Paul told me what General Ent had said to him.

“If this is a success, Paul, you’re going to be a hero. If it’s not, you could wind up in prison.” I thought about that remark - it should have been the other way around. But everything about Special Bombing Mission #13 was twisted, including the mission number. Who came up with that bright idea?

Less than 24 hours ago, the ground crew painted “Enola Gay” on the plane’s fuselage. Paul, who was only 23, insisted that the plane be named after his mother, Enola Gay. I wondered how she might feel about that, or how his father, Paul Tibbets Sr. might feel. How could it possibly feel to know that your son had your wife’s name painted on a plane that would unleash hell on earth?

We caught a sharp downdraft just as Paul returned to his seat, causing him to spill his coffee on the controls. Oddly, it seemed to speed up the response of the hydraulics.

“Wow, what happened? She’s handling like a Rolls.”
“I think it’s the caffeine,” I joked.
“Smith, now I know why they picked you for the mission. We needed a lunatic on board.”
“Pleasure to be of service, sir.”
“Fuck you, Smith.”
“Same to you, Colonel.”
“Call me Colonel again, Smith, and I’ll force feed you one of these.” He showed me the little green pillbox.
“I heard they work fast.”
“Yep. Listen, if we have to take them, I won’t be seeing you afterwards.”
“I don’t know about that. We’ll probably all go to the same place.”
“Yeah, but Smith, according to Ent’s logic, who knows. Hey, they do have good furnaces down there.”
“Why shouldn’t they? The devil himself got them from Hitler.” Everyone on the flight deck cracked up, but it was nervous laughter. We were all tight.
__________________________________

That's a peek at some of the novel. It doesn't stay with Enola long. I'll try to send you some of the heavier stuff if you want to see it. Let me know.

buytextual