beat me till I’m black and blue
And I’m very nearly dead
And I’ll get back up
And we’ll do it all over again
— the prophet roger clyne
You go to the race. Small, no frills, maybe a hundred people.
Some ASU students says 3-2-1 start, so you do. You run through a maze of sidewalks and chalk arrows and well-meaning pylons. You play leapfrog with a woman also doing the run-walk mambo. You suffer in slow motion.
And then, you finish.
Your first sub-40 in the YoF is cause for bittersweet celebration, and a solid last place.
You wonder all the way home. Why?
Why do you get up before dawn to pay 30 bucks to get humiliated? Why are you still trying? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Wait. That could be a Carpenters song.
You don’t answer. You don’t want to think about it anymore. But the shoes know why. It’s all you’ve known for 40 years. If you didn’t do this, what would you do instead?
You throw the stupid medal in the stupid pile, unpin the stupid bib from your stupid shorts, try to erase the stupid memory.
They you call up the schedule and look for the next stupid race.
You’ll get back up and we can do it all over again …