I know some people like running. Some get a “runner’s high.” I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that. Mostly I just imagine people who run long distances are already high on something…
Some people put a lot of thought into their running. They have special shoes, special shorts, and a special playlist to keep them motivated. It usually takes me so long to get up the energy to actually go run that everything else about it is an afterthought. I wear mesh shorts. I wear my neon green Nike shoes (and socks if I remember them in my gym bag). And I put Pandora on my iPhone.
This last week when I walked into the cardio room, I set my eyes on the treadmill without anyone nearby. If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I kind of sweat (read: sweat cascades down my arms and chest like Queensland Falls). The movement of my arms makes the sweat fling off my elbows. I think it’s gross and it’s my sweat. I try not to run near people.
But, of course, the moment I step onto the treadmill, the dude who still wears friendship bracelets gets on the treadmill next to me.
Note: he was wearing the friendship bracelet on his ankle. I am unclear how far down the friendship totem pole you have to be to get the handmade bracelet you made for your friend relegated to the foot, but I digress…
Anyway, I had no other option, so it was going to be me and Friendship Bracelet running in tandem tonight.
I set my iPhone to play my “Classic Rock” Pandora channel. I love it. CCR, KISS, the Stones, Hendrix. They all danced in my ears for the first mile.
Well, sort of. It always takes a minute or two for my iPhone to find the signal in the gerbil cage that is the cardio room at the gym. So they danced for about 3/4 of a mile. That first quarter the only thing that danced was my hand waiving the phone in the air trying to get a signal like I was helping to land a plane.
I looked over at Friendship Bracelet to see if he was paying attention to my waving, but thankfully he was engrossed in untangling his earbuds. This was the second time I pitied him (the first was for wearing that bracelet)…nothing tangles quite like earbuds. It’s hard enough to run, but try running while doing a puzzle. That’s what those first few moments of starting the treadmill before the earbuds are untangled are like. It’s like Sudoku for your fingers.
Anyway, Classic Rock comes on, I’m jamming, I’m sweating, all is well.
But see, when I get to running I also get to being bored. Which is generally my biggest issue with running: it’s boring.
So, at about the first mile, I take my phone and go to my Pandora station options. I won’t be going for George Winston. I won’t be going for Lady Gaga, either…though that station is always tempting. No; we’re going to test ourselves tonight.
I boldly turn to my “Soft Rock” station.
I know what you’re thinking. “You have a Soft Rock station on Pandora?” Frankly, yes. I have an eclectic taste in music. And I happen to have a knack for memorizing lyrics. I also tend to like things that are schmaltzy…because I think that’s funny. And because I like touching things that aren’t too cutesy. I don’t care for those motivational kitten posters, but that McDonald’s add at Christmastime where Ronald convinces the young kid not to run away from home? Man…there’s a story there…
See? Yeah, that’s me. In that sense I fit the demographic box for the Soft Rock/Easy Listening audience.
I do not fit the Soft Rock/Easy Listening demographic in the sense that I am not my mother.
So at mile 1.3 I start my journey with the sounds of Bertie Higgins and Key Largo, smiling my butt off as I mouth (a little too dramatically) “Here’s lookin’ at you kid…” And in that moment I didn’t feel my wobbly legs or my taxed lungs, but was whisked away to Key Largo where I nestled my toes in the sand and breathed the easy, salty air of tropical Florida.
And then I recall doing air drums. Lots of air drums. To Dan Seals and John Ford Coley’s I’d Really Love to See You Tonight. If you listen to that song (and you should…watch the video for the mustaches alone…) you’ll notice that there aren’t a whole lot of drums. But the ones that are there…oh the ones that are there…they deserve air drums. Friendship Bracelet didn’t seem to care.
And I don’t remember which artist was next or how many songs later it happened, but at about mile two old-school Michael Bolton came on. I’m talking mullet-in-the-back-nothing-on-top-button-up-shirt-with-a-bejeweled-stud-instead-of-a-tie Bolton. And he started asking this question about how people can be lovers if they can’t be friends. And I think it’s a really good question. And although I know he means it as a hypothetical, I think it deserves an answer. And for about four minutes my mind wandered through the relationship woes of a couple who can’t start over because the fighting never ends.
A fascinating psychological journey through the heart and soul of love.
And I know there were others in the mix, but I want to take you to the end of this run right now because blog posts should be less and not more, and the ending is really the apogee of the post.
Because all of a sudden Rod Stewart’s Forever Young came on. The unplugged version.
And I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, there was a version that was plugged in?”
Yes. The original. No more questions.
Anyway, we’re waiting on baby number two and have this great little 21 month old at home who cracks me up every day and as Stewart’s words fall like a benediction upon my ears all I can think of is my little guy with cornsilk hair who will not be forever young and this new little one about to be born.
And I know we hit three miles because the treadmill stopped (why ever run more than three miles?). But that’s the only way I knew we hit that mile marker because by this point I was openly weeping while running and couldn’t even see the treadmill dashboard anymore.
I didn’t wait around for Friendship Bracelet to grab me a tissue. I wiped off my machine and ran like Napoleon Dynamite to the lockerroom.
And may you, dear reader, be dignified and true and remain ever young.
And may you also never dare to listen to Soft Rock while running. It’s not worth the (emotional) pain.