I hate running. I ran on the Cross-Country team in high school, primarily because I thought it would look good on my college applications. I was totally one of those kids who did things because he thought it would look good on his college applications. (Adopting a Cambodian orphan sounds like it might be fun, but it turns out it really cramps the high school experience.) Little Joelene will not be one of those kids, in part because I plan to spend the next 18 years casually instilling my views on the worthlessness of a college education, and in part because my understanding of the Mayan Prophecies leads me to suspect that colleges as we know them will cease to exist sometime around the year 2012.
In some sports you actually have practices where they teach you how to get better, but in Cross-Country our “coach” would tell us a route to run and then follow us around in her car (!) to make sure that we were actually running instead of (I guess) eating donuts or renting videocassettes or smoking. So I never particularly got better at running, although I guess I got pretty good at not eating donuts and not renting videocassettes and not smoking. (Similarly, when I took “Walk, Jog, Run” as part of my PE requirement at college, I got pretty good at hiding in the music school for an hour.)
Almost every cross-country meet was held in a hilly cow field somewhere in the South part of the county. We’d ride there on the school bus, run a lap around the cow field (which was what distinguished our sport from track), drink imitation Gatorade, and then ride the bus back. There was the usual locker-room cameraderie, like making fun of people’s genitalia and duct-taping less-favored teammates to a bench. I didn’t get duct-taped the first time, but the writing was on the wall, and so I quit the team and got a job tutoring SAT students instead, which lasted until the company founders took millions of dollars that were supposed to buy #2 pencils and vanished.
So right, I hate running. But Ganga likes running and so every month she signs us up to run in the Magnuson Series. I don’t train, and I don’t practice. I just show up every month and run my 5k and then go to Jak’s and eat Sweet Southern Steak Hash with fried eggs on top and then go home and take a nap and pretend like I’m not going to have to do it all again a month later. After the first couple of times I knew that physically I was perfectly capable of running 5k, which has made every subsequent race more of a mental exercise. I have a lousy sense of timing (which is probably why none of the bands I drummed for ever made it big) and so I never know how fast to run, and so each month I pick someone who seems to be running a reasonable speed and try to keep up with him or her. (This morning it was “Asian kid in the yellow shirt,” to whom I attribute sole blame for my subpar time.)
Running requires music, and alas the only music player I have right now is my iPhone, and the only way to get music onto the iPhone is using iTunes (please someone tell me I’m wrong about this), and most days I’d rather stick a pen in my eye than use iTunes, which means that there’s very little music on my phone, and in particular there are only 3 running-appropriate albums: “A Night at the Hip-Hopera,” “Blood * Sugar * Sex * Magic” and “Them Crooked Vultures,” all of which I’m super sick of. Maybe next time I go to Home Depot I’ll pick up a day laborer and pay him to get the rest of my music onto my phone, but I only have another 6 months left on the AT&T contract, so maybe I’ll just keep exercising to “A Night at the Hip-Hopera” until then and then get one of those newfangled Zune Phones.
They say that once you start running you’ll start to develop this really awesome feeling afterward and it will totally become part of your life and you’ll crave it and you won’t be able to get through a day without thinking of it. I sort of understand this, as it kind of describes my feelings toward fried eggs, which I only started eating about a year ago in order to defuse Ganga’s constant “but you don’t even like eggs!” objections to my plan to raise chickens. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine any way to associate this feeling with running.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that I hate running, although I really do like fried eggs.