At the end of our block race, volunteers would set up tables stacked high with cups of Gatorade, which they would hand to passing runners.
Also at the end of the block was a Medicaid office, a large, squat beige building that provided an unbroken stretch of already vaguely urine-colored brick.
This was in the years before port-o-sans got trucked in, and the male marathoners knew a good pee wall when they saw one.
So while the rest of New York watched athletes run, I watched them pee.
What can I say? Autumn in New York is a magical time.
I decided long ago that I will never run a marathon, and it has nothing to do with my fears about bladder control. It’s just that there are only so many things I can do in my lifetime, and after some (read: no) deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that running almost 30 miles in short shorts in November is not going to be one of them. I have lots of friends who run marathons (including guest-blogger and fellow pop culture freak Owen as well as my dear friend the Rock 'n' Roll Gourmet's husband Mike), and I am totally in awe of them for doing it. Most of them run because they love it, or because they want to challenge themselves and have something to train for. Once in awhile, though, someone will tell me that they just want to prove to themselves that their bodies can do it.
Which is why I’m not ever going to run a marathon*. I know my body is, technically, capable of running that far. When I trained for track in high school I could run 5 miles or so at a stretch, and my training at that point could generously be described as half-assed, so if I devoted a year to building up my endurance I’m sure I could adapt, thigh-chafing be damned. Plus I have hours of early 90s hip-hop on my iPod that could carry me through. So I’m going to give my body a pass on this particular challenge. I’m going to give it an honorary degree in being badass. In the meantime I need to focus on smaller physical milestones, such as:
- Actually doing 30 days of the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred instead of stopping after ten minutes for a Diet Coke and a few episodes of Teen Mom.
- Learning to stand upright in the shower after shaving my legs without clinging to the soap dish for dear life.
- Shuffling the five feet from the bathroom to the bedroom with my pants around my ankles without falling down. Or, you know, expending the half a calorie to pull my pants up. Either one would be a victory, really.
*Another reason is my crippling fear of sudden cardiac arrest, not helped at all by the fact that Pheidippides**, the Greek messenger who inspired the modern-day marathon by running 150 miles in two days, collapsed and died upon his arrival in Athens.
**He is also the namesake of Dippity-Do hair gel, which was originally called Pheidippidy-Do.***