Running For my Life


By Neil Offen


The Local Reporter

Not that long ago, I considered running a half marathon. (I almost considered running a full marathon until I determined with a lot of Googling that a full one was actually twice as long as a half.) Running the half, I thought, would slow down the aging process, prolong my life and prove I am still every bit as dumb as I used to be.

Plus, training for a half marathon, I believed, would improve my aerobic fitness, lower my blood pressure, slim my waist and sharpen my mental faculties. It would challenge and stretch me. Of course, so would hernia surgery, I realized, but anesthesiologists rarely give out age-group awards.

To be honest, like many of us, I simply wanted to do something that would test my mettle and let me find out if, in fact, I had any mettle left and if that was the reason I was having so much difficulty getting through security control at airports.

Sure, I could have elected to take up tai chi, Pilates or other foreign words. But would they have raised my target heart rate now that I’ve figured out what a target heart rate is?

Plus, a new study published in The Journal of Old People Trying to Stay Young noted that aging boomers who run at least 30 minutes five times a week found that they did not have to wear skintight jeans to appear younger.

I knew that attempting to run a half marathon would be risky, but I’ve attempted risky physical feats before, including continuing to websites that were not recommended and opening email attachments from unknown sources. And on occasion I’ve dared to try to speak French, sometimes even with French people, and once, memorably, even tried to use the subjunctive tense.

So running a half marathon, I understood, would be a real challenge, and also a real accomplishment, even if it was, technically, completely nuts.  

But ultimately, I didn’t do it, and I’d like to explain why.

Before I could start, I first needed to buy new running shoes. Before I could buy the shoes, I had to undergo 3D foot-scanning technology, which is a little like a colonoscopy but without the prep, thank goodness. The foot scanning determined that indeed, I had two feet and the shoes would cost a whole lot of money. That was either because I pronated or because I didn’t pronate.

Not wanting to admit my shoe ignorance to the 17-year-old running store sales associate, and the fact that I had no idea what pronating was, I opted for the shoes with loft cushioning and the DNA midsole because that was the first pair they showed me. My new shoes, I am proud to say, also have air mesh uppers. I don’t have any idea what those are either.

Although I finally had the shoes, I still would have had to buy head bands and wrist bands and compression socks and chew gel bars and hydration packs and reflector patches and more. It was too much.

In the end, I figured, it may be easier to try to speak French instead, even in the subjunctive. Plus, it’s hot out there and I think you can speak French indoors.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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