Woo hoo! I lost five pounds last week! Thank you, thank you. Yeah, I was sick with a nasty virus and didn’t really eat much. Didn’t get out for a run either. But five pounds by sickness, surgery or exercise is still five pounds and I’ll take it. Now the trick is to keep it off. Think the ancient Mayans used to swallow pebbles in lean seasons to make themselves feel full. Hmm… don’t think I want to risk cracking the porcelain.
Anyway, by the end of the week, the thoroughbred in me was dying to get out. My gams were getting antsy and, though I had been practicing my cough for several days, I had to get out. Plus, next month is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half marathon, and I might be sick but I’m also cheap and I’m not going to waste that registration fee. So the training runs have to be done even if I have to bow to the bushes every quarter mile. By the way, the good thing about hacking coughs is that they give you abs of steel and, in my case, a voice like Darth Vader (which scares the kids a little). “Carson, I am your father.” “Aaaahhhhh…”
So, on Friday night I dropped my eleven year old off at his first school dance – which is funny because the fifth grade boys do everything to avoid the girls, who were giggling uncontrollably when I dropped him off – and geared up for a short two mile test run. No earbuds, just nature.
You know that sound the Six Million Dollar Man makes when he uses his bionics, “do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do…”? That should have been playing as I took off running. Everything seemed to go in slow motion, which is normal for me. Legs felt good. I was worried about being able to breathe and expected to started hacking again. But a wondrous thing happened: I didn’t cough. It was hard to take a deep breath, but the coughing never came. Awesome! So, I kept going… in bionic slow motion.
The night was clear and chilly and every block or so was a big Christmas display. Here an inflatable Santa waved. There a shy Ruddolph bobbed in and out of a big package. A house over there had a flat Santa plastered on its side (seems he missed the approach). On the corner was a fake chimney with black-booted feet sticking out. Silly Santa got stuck. Too many cookies. And then after a mile, I had to power down the bionics. Couldn’t take in enough oxygen and my stomach churned a little. Wouldn’t want them to find my feet sticking out of a bush somewhere. So, I walked for a bit.
This particular route crossed a field where my old friend, Goggles, used to live. So named for her big eyes, Goggles was a Burrowing Owl whose home was next to a drainage ditch. For about three years, she had been my companion in that area until her burrow got plowed over last summer. I miss the way she lovingly screeched and swooped at my head as I ran by. Her progeny now dominates the neighborhood with about a dozen of them in two square miles. Yes, she was a popular girl. Could she have escaped the plow? Could she be one of those others? It’s possible, but I think I would recognize her screech and swoop.
So, after reverently passing “Goggles’ Field”, I powered up again to slow motion. As I regained the sidewalk along a main road, from behind me I heard, “Behind you.” I moved right and glanced back as two elderly ladies power-walked passed me chatting about a sale at Kohl’s. “Hey, no speeding!” I jokingly called out. They ignored me.
Finally, the last turn came into view which runs along a community park. There are usually a few rabbits hopping around but not tonight. Then I recalled hearing a pack of coyotes during the week. Their den is somewhere in a field beyond the high school across the street. I picked up my pace a little bit and home came into view. No point in a cool down walk, I thought. It would be pretty much the same pace. So I just went home, satisfied that I had completed two miles.
A nice hot shower sounds great! And that’s when the coughing fit came. It had been waiting, lurking in the background until I was naked in the bathroom. “Kaaa, kaaa, aack, hack!”
“Are you ok?” my wife called. “Yeah, [hack, hack] just working on my abs!” I looked up and saw my younger son staring at me. Apparently, he had never seen Darth Vader naked before. After five minutes of my lungs showing me who’s boss, I gingerly stepped into the shower… and it was paradise.
Showered and feeling good about running, I went to pick up my older son from the dance. Several people were coming out as I walked into the gym. “Parker was great!” they said. “He was really tearing it up!” My son? He-he. He must have gotten his moves from me.
He talked about it in the car. “Dad, it was soooo fun! It was like a big party! And three of us entered a dance contest.” Three boys, that is. They made up some disco dance moves. He demonstrated in the back seat. I asked him about the girls. “I don’t understand them. They all wore these nice dresses and a ton of makeup. A few of us [boys] were doing pull-ups in the corner and a sixth-grade girl came up wearing a nice dress. She took her shoes off and started doing flips around the pull-up bar!”
“You can spend your whole life trying to figure them out, son, then one day they just power-walk right on by. Savor the moments like tonight.”