Fun Can Really Be Stupid Sometimes
Article by: Dick MichenerReproduced with permission of the author
Do you know what stupid is?
Stupid is a team of 6 vintage runners circling a blistering track through broiling heat for 6 hours.
As that great runner John Cougar Mellencamp put it, "hurts so good".
One of the most weird and perverse events hosted by my running club is the QUARTER OF A DAY RELAY, conducted on a Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. at a local secondary school track. Simply put, teams of 6 runners alternate running miles on the track for 6 hours.
The officials at the secondary school whose track we were using thought everybody participating was stupid. They wondered if our club liability insurance was sufficient.
Drivers in heavy traffic passing the south and open end of the track slowed to a crawl and gaped in disbelief and dismay at how stupid some human beings could be.
The only individuals convinced that participating in this relay was not stupid were coaches of elite teams. These coaches thought that entering their runners was smart, because they would benefit from heat training, character building, and bonding, as in misery loves company. Note that these coaches did not have to run a single step. Sitting in director's chairs and shaded by umbrellas, they kept track of laps and barked as their runners passed by.
Obviously, the team which covered the most miles was declared the winner in various divisions, none of which my team had any chance of taking.
As novices being initiated into the sado-masochistic pleasures of this running ritual, my wife Sandy and I were placed on a team which could have been called the "Over the Hill and Gone Gang." Our average age was about 65. Sandy and I were the young sprouts, at 57 and 58, respectively.
I was the only male runner on my team. Talk about stupid. Talk about suffering and pain - especially for my male ego. Picture me getting smoked by everyone else on my team, five females who might look, to non-runners, like little old ladies in tennis shoes. Talk about times. As the meet sped along, it was all I could do to keep my quarter-mile splits under 3:00.
Two of my teammates, 70-something lady marathoners, kept warning me not to push too hard. We know you're eager, Dick, they would lecture me, but you're not in shape yet to keep up with us; you haven't trained long enough; you need to lose more weight. If those two ladies were pushed out of an airplane, they would fall at 10 minutes per mile.
What do you do between your individual miles on the track? Well, you collapse into a beach chair, gasp as you're wiping your brow, and then hydrate and fuel up for your next effort.
With what? you ask.
If you're running on an elite team, you imbibe and ingest strange potions and portions, delivered by a peculiar person who looks like a refugee from the East German College of Sports Medicine.
If you're running on a non-elite team, you imbibe and ingest healthy and enhancing items such as water and sports drinks, energy bars and gels, beer and hot dogs, chips and dip, as well as other scientifically concocted treats from the Convenience Store College of Sports Medicine.
I did well at electrolyte replacement.
These healthy items certainly enhance your perception that, during each of your sessions on the track, you're truly running a gut- busting mile.
Once the five hour mark was passed, members of my team started encouraging one another - to slow down, so we'd each have one fewer mile to complete.
Prayer and virtuous living once again saved the day for me. Time expired just as I was preparing to run (literally and figuratively) the last mile.
Question. How do you keep from stiffening up? What sort of stretching will assist you in separating contracted muscles and dislodging compressed cartilage, as you stumble out of your beach chair five or ten minutes before your next session on the track?
You know what's the stupidest thing of all? I can hardly wait for next year's QUARTER OF A DAY RELAY. I'm already recruiting people for a team of my own. What heat training! I tell them. What character building! What bonding!
Fun can really be stupid sometimes.
Dick Michener is a runner, a writer, and an Internet business owner, residing on the side of a mountain in Waynesville, North Carolina. USA. Running has helped him to recover from type 2 diabetes as well as life-threatening heart problems. He would be pleased to hear from you at his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.