Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sure there are reasons, but they aren’t as fun as the possibilities

Why do I want to run a marathon?

I read something on a Web site that you need to have a specific reason for running a marathon, because it will greatly increase your chances of actually doing it. 

Fact is, I don’t really know why.

The idea first popped into my mind when I was in college and still in reasonable shape. At the time, it seemed like one of those grand life adventures college kids plan out -- traveling to Europe, road trip to the College World Series, swimming with dolphins. eating the burrito special at Big Mike’s Mexican Cantina …

But, like most college adventures, the marathon never materialized.

There’s nothing missing from my life that running 26 miles would suddenly replace and while I hope to improve my overall fitness, I feel like I made the hard change several years ago when I started running.

At the end of the day, I think I really just want to see if I can do it. 

But in the interest of having a concrete reason, I’ve decided to run to raise awareness of clumsiness.

Clumsiness is a reality.

It affects 100 percent of the population, usually at the worst time, and it is, to date, incurable.  

I have it. My wife has it. My daughter has it and we’ve noticed early signs of it  in our six-month-old son (just yesterday he was sitting normally in the living room and did a face plant right onto his stuffed monkey). 

I read that the symptoms (Dropping things, biting your tongue, stabbing yourself with pens, dribbling food on your shirt, walking into pane-glass doors, falling down stairs, falling down on flat ground, falling out of chairs, falling out of bed, tripping over your own feet, throwing aimed objects errantly, knocking full water glasses over, shooting food across the table after trying to hard to cut it, stubbing your toes, bashing elbows and shins on sharp corners, bumping your head on static objects, writing on yourself, talking to people who have left the room, spilling whole cartons of eggs, calling longtime acquaintances repeatedly by the wrong name, mistaking strangers for longtime acquaintances, waving at random oncoming traffic from your car, voting for the wrong person during election season even with the new user-friendly touch screens and back-up vote verification, writing blogs and accidentally calling your teachers “Grandma”) are ultimately treatable.

"We're all clumsy to some extent,” assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Robert Slater, M.D. told “It just varies from person to person.

“For the average person, a normal amount of clumsiness might be one or two awkward incidents a day. You might tip over a glass or bump into a doorway on any given day."

Ah, good. I am only six to seven awkward incidents below (or above?) average.

Slater goes on to suggest several methods of symptom relief.

First, don’t dwell on it (This will never happen for me).

Second, take a nap (Generally, after falling down in front of someone, I’d much rather just crawl under a rock). 

Third, take time to relax (Hard to relax under rocks -- too lumpy).

Fourth, exercise. (Now we’re getting somewhere). But they recommend tennis or ping pong  to improve hand-eye coordination. After two years on the high school tennis team, I can safely say the sport only enhanced my clumsiness.

Fifth, imagine your worst nightmare (Yeah, I do that. All the time. My worst nightmare would be getting chased across the slippery decks of a cruise ship by a puppet-wielding clown. I’d slide off the side of the boat, into the choppy waves below and get swallowed whole by a humpback whale. Inside the whale, the only form of entertainment is Grover Monster the Muppet who sings “It‘s a Small World” six hours a day.  I‘d be spit up days later only to discover the world supply of pizza had been entirely consumed.).

This process is supposed to help you in that imagining the worst-case scenario helps take the bite off the fear of clumsiness. But who’s going to help me with the clown, the puppet and the cruise ship?

Finally (and I’m not kidding). They recommend you bring out the animal in yourself. Imagining animals in motion, apparently, helps people be less clumsy. You imagine yourself as an animal, how every muscle in your body works together as you feel the wind your face as you run. You’re supposed to imagine these things for five to 10 minutes after an episode of clumsiness.

Got it. I see a hedgehog bumbling over the forest floor with a wolf in hot pursuit. The Wolf closes, the hedgehog rolls into a spiny ball and  … Oh.

This isn’t working. 

I guess I’ll have to give it some more time. 

Klutzes of the world, unite! I run this marathon for you. And the hedgehog.

I am training for a 10K in June and a marathon in November. I’m currently only running once a week while the freezing temperatures in town stick around, while subsidizing with exercises in the house. I’ll gradually ramp up the training routine until I’m running about 22 miles a week in June. From there I’ll launch into marathon training. I recommend you read the past entries to get a better idea of what I’m trying to do.

Stats for Week 2: Baseline 5K: 32:13. Baseline 10K: --. Best time of the week: 30:58 (5K). Best overall time: 26:57 (5K, June 7, 2009); -:-- (10K). Miles within the last week: 3.1. Total miles for 2010: 3.1.