Every now-and-then while running I stumble carelessly into handicapping results. I twist, sprain, and break my ankle in one quick moment. It's happened three times on my right ankle, and now, most recently on my left ankle. In the instant between disaster and face-plant I always have the same thought, "This is why I hate running." I'm a fairly lazy person. And truthfully, most runner are lazy. Our entire goal is efficiency, and in reality efficiency is just a fancy word for lazy. We run the tangents, we visualize, some people cut the switchbacks. And we argue over the efficiency of shoe heel-to-drop. Has anyone stopped to think of the absurdness of arguing over millimeters? I'll solve the debate in one sentence: If it doesn't feel good, don't use it. We habitually watch the reflection of ourselves running every time we pass by the windows of a building, or next too shiny car parked, or in the mirror on the treadmill. And the goal is to reassure ourselves that in the moment we see our reflection our form is world class. And the foundation of good form: efficiency. But call it what it is: laziness.
The logic of running laziness is sound, the logic of running is not. "Oh, look a mountain. Lets run up to the top." or "I think I'm going to see how fast I can run 3.1 miles." Why? That just makes no sense. Don't we realize how comfortable sitting in a leather recliner with a beer, chips and salsa, and a football game can be? Seriously, taking a break from comfort makes no sense. Running is a senseless act. Our saving grace, however, is when we do run: we run the tangents, we visualize, some people cut the switchbacks, and we believe in 0-mm, 4-mm, 8-mm, and 12-mm shoe heel-to-toe drops. When we handicap ourselves from our senseless act, we fall apart on the inside as we recover on the outside.
We assimilate ourselves into the Kübler-Ross model: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I posted pictures of my injury and in denial I replied to the messages of disbelief with, "I should be back in a week." I angrily drove to work with the windows rolled up and spewed derogatory adjectives at people running. I bargained with myself as I thought, "At least now I have an excuse to be out of shape." I curled into depression as I cried in the shower when I had to sit down like an elderly man stricken with old age because the swelling in my ankle became so intense it could no longer hold me up. And then I began to accept the situation. I bought a cycling trainer, I setup a six week plan, and I forced myself to go watch races. Even though I was solus on the inside because I couldn't participate I found that just being around others running became rejuvenating. I reminded myself of all the funny experiences being involved in running has brought me.
Like my third day on the job at a running store in Georgia. A group of women training for the Breast Cancer 3-day walk set-up an event for a shoe fitting and the store was going to donate 10% of the proceeds toward the event. The event started at 7:00 PM, but a few women came into the store earlier in the day to avoid the crowd. One woman decided that she just wanted to be fit for shoes, have us put them on the hold shelf and she would come back during the event hours and purchase. When the event started I was tasked out to the cash register for the evening. I'd take the products, scan them, get peoples names, put everything in a bag and take their payment.
At 7:30 PM the store was packed full of 3-day walkers. Everything was kind of chaotic, and suddenly from behind the register I noticed the woman that came in early had walked back into the store. I went to the backroom grabbed her gear and put it at the register. Her shoulder length brown hair had been taken out of the ponytail she had it in earlier. Her tan cheeks looked a little more flush and her eyes seemed slightly dilated. As we began talking she started to laugh at everything. Her tone was more flirtatious than jovial, and I had no problem entertaining. She told me that after she came in at 4 o'clock she noticed the bar next door was having a great Happy Hour. She wasn't from the area so she decided to take advantage of it while she was in town. She told me she lost track of time, paid her bill, and ran back over to the store.
In my mind, I turned my head to the side like a puppy hearing a sound for the first time and questioned, "Has she been drinking for three and a half hours?" After I scanned everything she was buying, I asked her if she needed anything else. At this point, she was leaning purposely far into the counter, her lower cut top revealing a toned, tanned chest of a 35 year old woman on the prowl. I caught myself several times doing the "eye bobbing glance dance." My eyes going up-and-down like a buoy on the ocean. It's an action that unconsciously takes over any guy's mind in these situations. Even if you don't want it to happen you wind up making these nervous head twitches up as you catch yourself in a trance. After repeating myself, "Ma'am do you need anything else?" She stood up and let out a gasping high pitched moan and shouted loud enough that entire store got quiet and quickly turned to look at what was happening.
Flirtatiously loud she exclaimed, "You didn't ring up my watch that I wanted!" Glancing down at the counter I noticed the watch for the first time. It was sitting next to where he left boob had been making out with the glass counter-top. Either her hair was covering it, or I was too focused on the line drawn down the center of her chest to peripherally pick up any other objects in the vicinity. Without time for me to say anything her next sentence sent me into a world of embarrassment She proclaimed, "What's wrong? You didn't want to touch my boobs?" Now, this time my head definitely turned side ways. My face filled with the red hue of embarrassment, and I smiled like an innocent third grade boy that got his first Valentine's Day card from his secret crush. I had so many not-work-appropriate comebacks, but I assumed looking boyishly innocent would be my only savoir.
The silence was broken with a few murmuring laughs, but all eyes were on me. Quickly I disseminated through all the thoughts in my head for the safest response. Turning my head back up right, and maintaining my smile and complete eye contact with her I responded, "Ma'am, it's not that I don't want to touch your boobs. I just want to keep my job." The store, full of about twenty women and my co-workers, erupted in laughter. And the woman smiled and politely told me, "Well, I guess this is why my husband doesn't let me out of my cage very often."
I'm three weeks into recovery, and three weeks from my goal. Now that I'm accepting my injury, everything is on par and I'll be out on the streets and trails sooner than later.
- Trey Bailey