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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why Do They Do It?

I couldn't help myself...every time one of them rushed past me panting like a bounding canine, sweat flying, ears stuffed with iPod earplugs playing music loud enough that even I could hear it, I was a little peeved.

We were visiting Maui, and every morning my husband and I would walk along the board walk on Ka'anapali Beach, inevitably being met by one runner after another, sometimes couples, either coming from behind or from in front of us.  The runners coming from behind would sometimes yell, "Coming up on the right!" or left, or whatever, signalling for us to get out of the way.  Get out of the way??  It's called a board WALK.  Secretly I believed that they were feeling somewhat superior to us lowly stragglers.  I was pretty sure I saw a couple of them smiling to themselves when they weren't busy sucking in air.  Yeah, I'm in much better shape (pant!! pant!! pant!!) than you are, they were thinking.

Stop it, Irene.  I would attempt to restrain my negative thoughts, but then another jubilant jogger would race past me and my monkey mind would get the best of me.  Why on earth would you come to a vacation paradise and then JOG?  What kind of vacation is THAT?  Did you drink too many mai tai's last night?  Gotta work off all that mahi mahi, eh?  Think pretty highly of yourself, don't you?

STOP it, Irene.

I must admit, I've never understood the running thing.  I know perfectly good people do it and only for the best of intentions.  My sister runs to keep in shape and to help control weight, and she's a good person.  So why can't I look upon every runner as a good person, simply wanting to stay healthy?

After all, why were my husband and I out walking every day?  That's right.  For the very same reasons;  to work of the mai tai's and mahi mahi, and to make sure we didn't get too out of shape on our vacation.  And we were certainly enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the ocean and the morning birds on our walks.  I would smile at my silliness, take a deep breath and gaze out at that big, blue Pacific Ocean crashing up onto the shore.

Thump, thump, THUMP, THUMP....here comes another one.  Dammit.

What IS it about this running thing that appeals to people so much?  Every time I try it, I feel like my insides are pounding against each other harder than the ice cubes in a martini mixing glass.  My knees begin to shake and buckle and my ankles verge on the point of collapsing.  I can hardly believe there are people in the world who want to do the Badwater Ultramarathon;  you know, the marathon where you run 135 miles through the scorching desert of Death Valley in 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and then up the side of a mountain, all without stopping?  Yeah.  People do that.

But most people don't.

Some people are just born runners.  As a kid, even I recall the act of running as a sort of liberating feeling.  But I hated sports and would resent being forced to participate in races during sports day at school.  Other kids just loved it.  It seemed that if they could, they would keep running and running for hours and hours.  It was in their bones.  I remember in the 70's when running suddenly became the thing to do, and the sport has only grown from there.  Magazines dedicated purely to running were published, runners (as we used to call our shoes) became high tech footwear, water bottles were all the rage.  These days, people run competitively or they join running groups to stay in shape.  Some start running because they've had a lifelong ambition to do a marathon.  And almost every week you can see a promotion for some kind of "race for a cure" where people sign up and take pledges to run.

When I was working at a radio station in the promotions department years ago, I had to participate in a lot of PR events as part of my job.  One time, we had teams from all of the media outlets in the city racing as we pushed beds with wheels through the streets of downtown Victoria.  The others in my team were in much better shape than I was as we began our pursuit.  About a half a block into the race, I thought I was going to die.  The thing is...you can't just start running at breakneck speeds without having at least trained a little bit.  But I didn't really consider that.

On another occasion, my daughter's little league team had an end-of-season picnic and barbeque, and the parents were made to form two teams to play a game so that the kids could watch us for a change.  On my only turn at bat, I hit a grounder and raced to first base as fast as my flabby legs could take me.  I was tagged out, and so were my legs for about a week after.  Ouch.

Sometimes I wonder if people are out there running in order to get that "runner's high" that everyone talks about.   According to my research, as it turns out, not everyone will get runner's high, and even if they do once it doesn't mean they will again.  So that can't just be it.  When I Googled running, I found website after website full of people devoted to it, but no matter how many breathless, happy posts I've read from enthusiastic runners, I still don't get it.

We plan on going back to Maui as soon as we can, and I know that in the meantime I'm going to have to change my attitude, either that or forfeit my otherwise enjoyable walks along Ka'anapali Beach when we get there.   However, I will leave you with a quote from this famous astronaut:


"I believe that every human being has a finite number of heartbeats, and I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises." 

- Neil Armstrong


Enjoying Ka'anapali Beach MY way