Lately my wife has been struggling to understand what sets us apart from “serious” runners. She has convinced herself the key to appearing “serious” lies in the relative brightness of one’s clothing. I think she is only half right. There is also The Gear.
The last race that Ali and I ran together was on a frigid 60⁰ morning in Florida’s week long winter. I have no cold weather gear so I very nearly froze to death. I began to realize how woefully unprepared I am for a full year of all-weather marathon training and thus I began populating my now monolithic list of suddenly indispensable gear if I am to have any chance of completing this challenge. Since that time, the paraphernalia has been steadily growing. Watch, sunglasses, proper running shoes, mp3 player. I thought I was nearly prepared, until I started training in earnest.
The first thing I noticed: runners need fluids. I have, in the past, stuck to short distance races and have never really needed to worry getting enough fluids. Even when I was young, playing hockey and baseball, I always declined hydration; I don’t know exactly why I’ve always been this way. I began running longer distances shortly before starting this blog though and now that I have started to increase my mileage, I am learning the value of staying hydrated. So much so that I am, literally, in the process of purchasing one of those damn Camelbacks. As much as I don’t want to use it, there are no drink stations every half-mile throughout SCP and the unthinkably oppressive heat of Southwest Florida has forced me to give in.
Lately, I have been running at night. Because I have given myself the deceptively difficult task of training for a marathon while reading almost every night (in addition to my normal life), I have been forced to do a majority of my running at night, after the females in my life have become too cranky for human interaction. This necessity combined with the dangerous road conditions in SCP, has left me feeling extremely uncomfortable without having some kind of light to alert drivers of my presence.
Then, there is another piece of gear. To which I am determined and unrelenting in my opposition. It probably doesn’t precisely qualify as a fluid or a gear. Terrible Gear. Just like the areas of the body it is applied to, it occupies some kind of netherworld of running paraphernalia. Imagine rubbing your hands together for 2 hours, how raw your hands would be. Imagine rubbing your more sensitive parts for that length of time. At some point, even clothing becomes a vicious irritant, literally tearing away at your skin. In case you’re slow on the uptake, I’m talking about butts. I’m talking about nipples. I am talking about nipples, dripping with blood. From running.
The solution to this problem, I am told, is Vaseline. Vaseline. There are runners out there, who are so determined to run that they will perform a pre-run lousing of Vaseline. Vaseline! They are so committed to putting themselves through hell that they are willing to pack Vaseline into the darkest corners of the world. You might be thinking the idea of Vaseline on nipples would probably not be all that bad, but in this case, the essence of slathered nipples precedes the existence of slathered nipples. Sartre could not separate these slippery nipples from the reason for their raison d'être. Even in the face of terrible nipples, it is the Vaseline that inspires in me true horror.
To date I have not had to submit to the vaselaic lousing of my secret places, even for an hour and half of uninterrupted running in the hot Florida sun. It is this coming weekend though, that I am scheduled to run my longest distance ever of 11 miles. Should I finish my run with blood dripping down my shirt, the future of this project will really be in jeopardy. Now, I’m exceedingly proficient at swallowing my pride, and I’ve enjoyed the last week and a half of blogging, but I don’t know if I can handle washing that kind of blood out of my shirt.
Of course, I have my theories as to why I have never required a pre-vaz session, and the one I’m more inclined to believe is that my latent super-powers are finally coming to bear. Think about it. In The Incredibles, Dash needed a specially formulated suit to withstand the friction. I bet Superman never worried about chafing. Man of steel, titanium nipples.
Getting back to the moral of the story though, if this is what it takes to become a “serious” runner, to dog-ear my nipples, I emphatically refuse to be anything other than vaguely engaged in the sport.