The Slowest Speed At Which You Can Possibly Travel While Still Essentially Moving Forward

Notes on Running Just About 2 Miles.

I make the midway turn at Bridge Acres Farm and hump my way slowly back up the hill and as I do a boy shouts, “Hey I’m on your right!”.

The boy pulls even with my right shoulder — he’s a fourteen-ish year old terrible smelling barefoot Amish boy half-heartedly kicking a rusty scooter up the hill alongside me — and he tries his best not to run into me while also balancing on the scooter at the lowest speed a scooter can go uphill without crapping out and falling over. He sort of gives the ground a kick, coasts on the scooter for +/- eighteen inches, waits for the scooter to wobble, and gives the ground another kick and the cycle repeats. All of which is to say: the boy is going slowly — the laws of physics or whatever dictate that he quite literally cannot go any more slowly even if he wanted to — and I’m nonetheless going more so. As he passes, the boy nods his head and kind of touches his straw hat and says, “Sir?” and the scooter wobbles and the boy half-heartedly gives the ground a kick. I smile and think about throwing up and then I throw up in my mouth a little bit because: though I don’t know it yet, that’s pretty much what I do when I run.

The Amish boy summits Hunsicker Road and as I watch him I take brief catalogue of: my weak legs, my age, my disposition, my general guttiness, my tradition of failure, the three hundred yards I have to run just to get up this hill, etc. I decided to give marathon training a shot totally arbitrarily, which is probably exactly the wrong way to give marathon training a shot, and these are the first two miles I’ve run[1] since I bought a Marathon Training In 26 Weeks For Beginners!-style book at Barnes and Noble and told myself to be “really serious about this”. By my count I have +/- another 1100 miles to shuffle in the upcoming 25 weeks and six days and right here/now the difference between 1100 miles and, say, two million seems pretty much negligible because: who the fuck could ever run that many miles, right?

I whisper to myself, “You can do this!” and even though I know that I absolutely cannot in fact “do” “this” I try to think positively because that’s what people say you are supposed to do; and then I think about all the awful people posting things on Facebook like, “Awesome run today! So grateful!!” and I decide: original motivations be damned, when I get home I’m going to watch eleven consecutive hours of television and never run anywhere again for the rest of my life.

This thing may or may not have started about four months ago while I was drinking beer with a friend of mine.

We were drinking beer on a hottish afternoon in July and after we argued about: sports, weather, How Rockets Work, the average speed of trains, What’s Up With Dogs, how to size belts, where the jet-stream comes from, the difference between American and European shoe sizes, etc. we grew silent and sipped at our beers and my friend said, “Did I tell you I’m doing 100 pushups a day now?” and I said no and he said, “Well I am!” and he dropped to the deck and did 50 pushups in just under a minute. When he was done he sort of hopped to his feet and shouted, “That was really hard!” and chugged his beer and said, “Ahhh!!” really loudly the way men do when they drink beer a certain way.

I finished my second beer and went through a series of thoughts like: “What a shithead”. Like, “Who just does 50 pushups? An asshole, is who just does 50 pushups.” Like, “Obviously, if I were in some position where I was going to do/needed to do 50 pushups and I was around a friend or something I’d excuse myself and do my 50 pushups in the bathroom so as not to make a whole thing of it because I’m capable of at least a little grace?.

We ordered more beer and my friend stretched his arms a lot and after beers Three and Four I excused myself to use the bathroom and instead of actually using the bathroom I max’ed out at 1.3 pushups and lay on the bathroom floor and thought about all the things that would have to change in my life for me to be able to do another 48.7 pushups consecutively. Two beers later — you know, before I was “really” feeling “it”, before I told him I could out-Indian Leg wrestle him in two out of three bouts, before we cleared the deck of the small hotel bar we were drinking at because of all the swearing and all the Indian Leg Wrestling, before he pinned me upside down on the deck floor with my leg behind my ears — before all of this, I came back from the bathroom and asked him if I’d told him that I was training for a marathon, and he said no, and I said I was and he asked how it was going and I said, “I really feel great!” and then we leg wrestled and he pinned me to the deck and the deck cleared out and the rest of the night followed pretty much as such.

Two weeks ago he texted me a selfie where he’s doing pushups on the deck of an M1 Abrahms at a Desert Storm museum because he’s really into kind of thing; that afternoon I bought a Canadian Marathon Training Manual at Barnes and Noble.

And 12 hours later I threw up for the first time on Hunsicker Road — 1.6 miles out, 1099.4 to go.

[1] Shuffle” is the “technical term” my Canadian marathon training book uses to denote The Speed At Which I Should Be Going, Day #1. Which is actually “Day 2” because on “Day 1” I was to “rest”. Which I did.