Changing my mind to avoid changing my shirt

Back in June, I started running again after a layoFFFF of many years.

My clever use of a visual representation of the Doppler Effect may have left you with the impression that I run like the wind, despite having only picked back up in June.  That would be a misapprehension. 

I’m what’s known in running circles as a Clydesdale, both because of my size and lack of whippet speed (the term for lean, fast runners, by which I mean Kenyans).  All I can say is:  no one has ever cried over a Christmas commercial of whippets pulling a wagon through freshly fallen snow nor laughed at one in which they kick a field goal.

‘Nuff said.

Health scare … mid-life crisis … nostalgia for the athletic stud I once was (at least in anecdote); none of these factored into my decision.  Instead, running again was the price of admission to something I’ve always wanted to do – run the bulls in Pamplona.  That’s right. I’m a clichéd Hemingway wannabe who wants to dash into the ruedo in my white linen shirt and pants, my red sash blowing in the wind behind me. However, in the 34 years of life with Linda, I could never get her to see the wisdom and allure of this … until in a moment of weakness and drink, she said: “Sure, if you run a half-marathon first.”

She may have been laughing up her sleeve when she said it, but that stopped when she sobered up.  And to our mutual surprise, five months later I finished the Waddell & Reed Half Marathon here in Kansas City. Didn’t run it in the fasted time ever, but I did run my first half marathon fifteen minutes faster than NBC Chief Meteorologist did, to which I say: “Suck it, Al Roker.”

During that time, I also was busy researching and planning my 2012 Pamplona bull-running trip.  And I mean planning.  Working with engineers over the past five years has really stoked my love of Excel spreadsheets, critical paths and key dependencies. I had pulled together an action plan for getting there and, more importantly, how to sprint the 903 yards to the ring and survive. I knew everything. How they had put down non-skid surfaces at Dead Man’s Turn so that the bulls wouldn’t slip and could keep accelerating after the Euro-trash that deserved what they got. How they keep goring stats so you can schedule your run on a day less likely to end in injury or death.  And mucho, mucho mas!

But here’s the thing.  The more I researched, the more Pamplona videos I watched, the more I learned an important lesson about myself (and not the one people kept trying to teach me, that bulls can kill you). What I learned was that I’m just too damn old to stand in a Plaza with 10,000 youth of the world projectile vomiting from chugging cheap two-liter bottles of sangria.

I’m happy to risk getting gored.  But I don’t want to be vomited on. And I don’t want to be jammed, jostled and generally pawed by thousands of sweaty, pukey twenty somethings. (Hey, I veered away from the High Five Squad at mile six of the half marathon because I didn’t want to touch hands that had patty-fingered 11,000 other runners.)  So I’m not going to Pamplona. 

But at least I’m still running.  So join me for the next outing – the Dec. 4 Great Santa 5K –  No bull. No sangria. No puking up.

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