A Run of Bad Luck

As I tried to get out of bed this morning, I found that I couldn’t move my legs. My torso moved just fine, but my legs just lay there, limp and motionless. Immediately, I thought, “Ohmigod! It’s the polio. I must have caught the polio when I was down by the lake yesterday! Dammit. How the heck am I going to fit an iron lung in this apartment?!”
But then I remembered that two days ago, I was struck by the unfamiliar urge to go for a jog, partly to relieve stress, and partly in preparation for the 5K Run/Walk I somehow let Natasha rope me into. The race isn’t until mid September, so people keep telling me I have plenty of time to train. Unfortunately, these same people also keep telling me that training for a 5K involves more than buying a new pair of Adidas running shoes, donning a hot pink velour Juicy Couture track suit, and visualizing myself crossing the finish line in slow motion amidst hordes of onlookers chanting my name.
So with this race looming over me, and after falling into a particularly deep unemployment induced funk this week, I decided that I needed to go for a quick run to blow off some steam. I’ve always heard that exercise is really good for stress, because it releases something called endodontists, which I think relieve pain. Especially during a root canal.
So I started to throw on my jog attire and bolt out the door when I thought, “Wait. Aren’t people supposed to stretch their muscles before running?” Fortunately, I quickly remembered hearing on the news a few days earlier that researchers have debunked the myth that stretching prior to exercise prevents injury, which made me really happy since I was certain that this exercise mood would only last about six minutes. I knew that if I had to actually stretch first, by the time I got done trying to touch my toes, I would have changed my mind and settled for watching the latest installment of Big Brother 5 instead.
As I stepped outside, the dark skies looked a little ominous, but I knew that I wasn’t planning on staying out very long. I was going for quality, not quantity. I started out strong – shoulders back, long strides, chest out, measured breathing. This lasted approximately two blocks, at which point my left arm dropped to hold my ribs, my shoulders slumped, and I started to hyperventilate. I actually started to feel a little dizzy, and looked around to see if there were people behind me to help out just in case I collapsed on the sidewalk. There weren’t, so I knew I was on my own.
It was at that point that I decided to focus on the “walk” part of the 5K Run/Walk. Somebody has to do it, right? So I alternated walking for five minutes, then walking slightly faster for five minutes, then back to walking for five minutes. Just as I really started to find my stride, I saw a few flashes of lightning in the distance. It seemed really far away, so I wasn’t overly concerned.
I felt a slight mist of rain falling down on me. As the first few drops fell, I thought, “Hey, this is nice! It’s cooling me off, and when I go back to my apartment, my neighbors will think I’m all sweaty from some marathon run.” I mean, if I can’t actually be athletic, I might as well try to at least look the part.
But then I heard it – a crack of thunder so loud that I actually felt it in my feet. And without any other warning, it came. The skies opened up and brought down the heaviest, most pounding, torrential rain I’d ever witnessed. There was nowhere for me to go at that point. I was about six blocks from home, so I just started taking shortcuts through alleys to get home as quickly as possible.
In my haste to quickly act on my sudden urge to exercise, I decided against putting in my contact lenses. This would prove to be a fatal error in judgment. As I schlepped through the alleys, my glasses were completely fogged up and useless, and my eyes were burning from what I can only assume was a steady stream of dissolved hair products dripping into them. I wasn’t even sure if I was on my own block. I just kept pressing the alarm button on my car’s remote in order to try and find my house by sound.
There was a river of garbage rushing through the alley, and at one point, a soggy newspaper and a banana peel had wrapped around my ankles, almost tripping me up. Although my vision was blurred, I’m pretty certain I saw a rat kayaking down the alley on an old milk carton. And he was beating me.
I didn’t need this. All I wanted was to beat the blues and join the fight in America’s battle against obesity, and I ended up drenched to the bone and dragging a trail of Doritos bags and twine behind me. Unless I could somehow convince my neighbors that I had just completed the swimming leg of a triathlon through the Chicago River, my hopes of tricking them into thinking I was athletic were pretty much shot.
So here I am. Unable to walk, and barely able to wheel myself over to the computer in order to type this. But I guess I’m one step closer to being heart healthy, and that’s really what matters. I just wish those endodontists I’ve heard so much about would finally kick in.

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