Our running group has thrived and prospered over the past couple of months. We’ve seen new members come and go and then return again. We’ve run routes and rediscovered old routes. And we’ve drunk many a beer in fellowship after cranking out a solid 4 to 5 miles. But we stayed true to our original plan, which was meet-up and run on Monday nights.
Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t enough for some people. (It’s the funny thing about running, the more you do it, the more you WANT to do it) And so a breakaway faction of MNH was born and started running on Saturday mornings. Most of us dismissed this as a fad and went on our way. (seriously, Saturday mornings? Umm…hung-over…hello?) But they kept at it and so the Saturday edition on “Monday Night Hangovers” is an actual, real thing.
So last Saturday I figured I would join them for their insane, crazy, and ill-thought-out running plans. The course was set at a 7.5 mile out-and-back loop from Macguire Park in Lansing, through Hawk Island Park, down the River Trail to Potter Park Zoo, and back. It’s a bit of a longer run than I am used to, but I needed to start packing on the miles for my marathon training plan and I figured I could probably handle it. (plus there was the promise of pancakes afterward. I freakin’ love pancakes) At 8:15AM on a on overcast Saturday, there I was. Sweatpants and long sleeve shirt on, grumbling attitude in tow perhaps, but present and correct.
Off we started and immediately I knew there was going to be a problem. I had recently bought a new MP3 player (product reviews will be added to the site shortly) and I was trying new headphones with them. The bloody headphones kept slipping out of my ears. I could go a couple of steps and then the left one would slip out. A couple of steps and the right one would slip out. It was annoying to say the least. Adding to my increasing rage was the fact that my sweatpants were deciding to slip off of my waist. I was literally running my pants off. The elastic is old and the draw-string couldn’t be knotted effectively so they kept falling down. After a half-mile or so, I had had enough. I was cold, I was going slow (everyone was at least a ¼ mile ahead of me…probably more like ½ mile ahead of me) and these stupid pants were driving me crazy!
In my moment of rage, I pulled off the damn headphones and launched the MP3 player into the grass beside the paved trail. Tugging at the drawstring and tromping through the mud, I tried to calm myself down. I still had some miles to put in after all and everyone else had already disappeared. I knew I was going to be last but didn’t think I was going to be a half-hour slower than everyone.
Gathering whatever dignity as cursing fat man with sweatpants falling off his butt can muster, I looked at the situation. I wanted to finish the run, but couldn’t. Not if I had to hike up my stupid pants every two steps. I also couldn’t listen to any music, a blow to be sure but nothing that was insurmountable. So I picked up the MP3 player and looked at the blasted headphones. One of the ear buds was busted. Fully snapped off. As I contemplated the maddening series of events though a thunderbolt of insight popped into my head. The headphone cord was about the circumference of me. Since they were garbage now anyway, I could turn this into a belt! Eureka!
So I looped it around my waist, tied it tight, and took off for a few paces. It was holding and seemed like it had enough strength to get me through. Relief washed over me and off I went. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone, or even finish the full 7.5 miles now that time was ticking away, but I could probably get in 5 miles or so and still have myself a nice little run. The day was warming up and there were plenty of other folks on the river trail (and some deer, too) and there was nowhere else I needed to be at that moment. Just put one foot in front of the other and work on becoming a fitter, thinner, and better person. What more could I ask from a Saturday morning?
It turns out I did 6 miles. (Everyone else did 8…..bastards…) I felt great at the end of it and the biscuits with sausage gravy and cup of coffee I had afterward have never tasted better. It was a great run that I look forward to repeating with this group of crazies that decide to wake up early on a Saturday in January in Michigan and go running. I also have a new moment in my life that I can reflect on when I’m faced with a situation that seems to be getting worse with every step. Instead of raging at it, maybe I just need to step back, take a look at what’s going on, and come up with a solution. Weird how running keeps adding fresh perspective to my life, but there you go.