Tales from the road race

The Queens County Advance - - COMMUNITY - Steve Bartlett is an ed­i­tor with Saltwire Net­work. He dives into the Deep End Mon­days to es­cape re­al­ity and ath­lete’s foot. Reach him via email at steve.bartlett@thetele­gram.com.

Mile One — My body breathes a col­lec­tive sigh; “Steve, you’re do­ing this to your­self again!” But this 10-mile road race could be the worst yet, I warn, be­cause I haven’t trained much. My body tells me I’m an id­iot.

Mile Two — I try to pick up the pace, but my right big toe sounds the alarm with a sharp pain (hope­fully, the foot fore­cast doesn’t call for gout). And in the ex­act same ac­cent as James “Scotty” Doohan from Star Trek, the toe yells, “I’ve giv’n her all she’s got cap­tain, an’ I canna give her no more.”

Mile Three — I stick out my thumb and un­suc­cess­fully try to hitch a ride to the fin­ish line with a po­lice of­fi­cer in a pa­trol car.

Mile Four — Some en­cour­age­ment from a spec­ta­tor. She’s sit­ting with a cooler and sug­gests pre­tend­ing I’m hav­ing fun like on New Year’s Eve. “OK,” I say, “Did you bring beer?” She didn’t. Should auld ac­quain­tance be for­got?

Mile Five — Divert into the Dairy Queen on the race route and eat large Bl­iz­zard with Smar­ties, plus a small ice cream cake and choco­late-cov­ered soft serve. Just jok­ing. My mind wan­dered over into the DQ. My body wouldn’t. In­ter­est­ingly, DQ is an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for “dis­qual­i­fied.”

Also on Mile Five, I pass a woman hold­ing a sign that reads “I love you, Ran­dom Stranger.” I plead with her not to tell my wife.

Mile Six — I pick up the pace for a few strides and re­gret my choice of run­ning shorts. Be­cause the freakin’ things start fall­ing down, fall­ing down. My fear is they’re go­ing to fall south to my knees. So I hold them up with my hand and then pray, hand and then pray … Any­way, that throws my new balance off and I find my­self list­ing to­wards the curb. I’m not too torn up about hav­ing to slow down.

Mile Seven — My legs are aching, burn­ing, chaf­ing, and wish­ing their work for the day was done as I trudge up the course’s steep­est in­cline. I’m suf­fer­ing and want to scream, but re­mind my­self that this is not the hill to cry on.

Eight Mile — A 2002 movie star­ring Eminem. The rap­per’s hit song from the film was “Lose Your­self.” Ex­actly what I was try­ing to do at this point of the race.

Mile Nine — I get a last-mile lift from the smell of a fish and chips shop along the route. Ahhh … A con­tact fry.

Mile Ten — Mis­sion ac­com­plished! And I fin­ished 3,000-and-some­thingth!

Your colum­nist is a hurt­ing unit though. I’m stiff from head to hoof, and there’s a real pos­si­bil­ity I might lose a toe­nail. My body is now show­ing me, not just telling me, I’m an id­iot for run­ning a race with­out prop­erly pre­par­ing. Hope­fully I’ll learn a les­son — this time.

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