Have you ever had an exercise mishap? Maybe you were running a marathon and fell flat on your face, or riding a bike and the chain fell off, throwing you into a ditch. Fitness and exercise always bring exercise mishaps of one kind of another, and more often than not, we can laugh at them later. As for me, one of my many mishaps happened during a 5K run …
Chariots of Wimpy Fire
The Olympics. They’ve always been a goal of mine. Well, at least to watch them on TV.
While doing serious research on the Internet-oh, all right, I was really searching for Twinkie recipes-I came across an announcement for the Run Through the Lavender 5K, in Mona, Utah. Suddenly a mysterious longing to wear spandex overcame me. I figured some kind of bad mojo grabbed me, because my mind would never come up with a harebrained idea like wearing spandex and entering a race. If I were meant to run, I’d have four long legs and a pedometer growing out of my head.
Nevertheless, I felt determined and began training. My husband, Derrick,* and I ran up a humongous hill in the evenings for stamina. It was exhausting, but I have to say that carrying me on his shoulders did wonders for Derrick’s conditioning. Mine, too, because balancing on top of an old, bald guy requires strength and endurance.
When the day of the 5K arrived, we drove to the Young Living Lavender Farms, and had to walk-along with six million other people who kicked up clouds of swirling dust-from the parking lot to the registration desks. I said to Derrick, “Hack, cough … does this distance from the parking lot … cough, cough … to the registration desks count as part of the run? ‘Cause if it does, we’ll have completed the 5K before we’re even-accckkkk!” I grabbed my throat.
Derrick looked at me through dusty eyelashes. “What’s wrong?”
“I swallowed a bug!”
Looking back on it, I’m sure it was a sign I should’ve turned around and left.
After waiting in line, we received our registration numbers and free T-shirts. The kind of free that cost $17 apiece when we registered on the Internet. Next, we stepped with the masses to the starting gate. It reminded me of sheep in a chute, being lead to their demise, but before I had a chance to point that out, someone spoke unintelligible words though a megaphone and then shot a gun in the air, almost killing a crow.
The experienced runners bolted from the gate, while the sane people stood around guzzling water and doing deep knee bends to impress each other. Finally, the chute emptied enough to walk through without getting trampled, and after a few minutes, Derrick and I strolled over the starting line.
“You don’t think they’re been counting time since they almost shot that bird, do you?” I asked him.
“Naw. Why would they do something like that?”
We ambled along a little farther, and the sun came out with a warmth that made us sweat and made me wonder why they hadn’t found a way to air condition those lavender fields.
That’s also when I realized the pack had thinned and some of them were already three-quarters of the way finished with the race. I looked behind, thinking there were at least another hundred people slower than us. Instead, all I saw was a little ol’ lady in a wheelchair and a pregnant woman pushing a stroller. And they were gaining fast.
“Run or we’re going to end up last!” I said, panicked.
We ran a few yards, then I tripped on a rock and hopped on one leg for fifteen feet until the pain subsided. “Old people should never run a 5K; it’s bad for their health,” I announced to the next runner who passed me … which, as it turned out was an eighty-year-old in bright pink spandex.
We ran some more. Finally, we only had two yards to the finish line. People cheered on the sidelines, and a burst of exhilaration flooded through me, along with a jolt of adrenaline. I was going to make it! I was a runner. Nothing was going to stop me. I was-aacccckkkk!
Chewing gum down the wrong way!
There I stood, three feet from the end, choking and trying to cough up a gum hairball.
Unbeknownst to Derrick, my original idea had been to put on a burst of speed and beat him. My plan instantly changed to not passing out nor being carried away by ambulance in front of six million people.
I swallowed hard, and in those few seconds it took to get the gum down, Derrick crossed the finish line ahead of me. Forcing myself forward, I stepped across the line to the music to Chariots of Fire playing in my mind. Only it was the wimpy version. But it was okay, because I’d conquered the 5K, even though I hadn’t beaten Derrick.
Next year I’m gearing up again, and when the sun sparkles on the lavender fields, I’ll be ready. I’ll sit at home in my easy chair, drinking a root beer float. When they fire the starter’s gun in Mona, I’ll pop a DVD into the player and happily watch my copy of the 1922 Olympics-an event where men were men, women didn’t know how to run, and spandex hadn’t been invented.
(*Names have been changed to protect the guilty parties … that would be “Derrick.”)