September 07, 2017

What's a fun run?

The Greek philosopher (and bar keep) Kricadopolis once said that running was bad for you.

Some scientists have however suggested – and only heaven knows why – that running could indeed hold some benefit for body, mind, and soul. Why they waste their time and resources on disproving an ancient sage such as Kricadopolis is beyond me!

If you believe in science, and it seems there are some who still do, you too may think running is good for you: healthy for the heart, good for the bones, lifts the mind, and all of that jibber-jabber that scientists postulate. You may even prescribe to the premise that it's fun to run.

Me? I’m more of a religious man when it comes to running: I believe!

I believe running will make me tired, sweaty, and wheezy – especially wheezy!
I believe my heart holds a limited amount of beats in this lifetime – and I’ll be darned if I’m going to waste them voluntarily on running;
I believe the only people meant to run are the babes on Baywatch…. in slow-mo (so as not to unwittingly waste any beats).

I’m also a bit of a purist: I believe the words “fun” and “run” rhyme with “pun” and therefore have no linguistic (or scientific) business being in the same sentence.

However, as with many believers, I do have my weakness: 
I believe judogirl has a magnificent bum.

And she likes to run… (hey, that rhymes!)

So when she says: “let’s go for a run”, my brain instantly extrapolates the calculus:
[f’(I can run if I must) + f(x->a)(my (in)ability to pass her) + f”(lycra shorts)] = f(n)[unobstructed view ((running bum) + (sunny seaside setting))] * 

* Ocular nirvana” to laypeople who don’t understand calculus

Surreptitiously and instantly visions of beer is altered into sounds of deceit: “Yay!”

And that’s exactly how things happen. Bad things.

While I religiously try to stick to my beliefs, other things sometimes get in the way (things like sports bras, secret socks, crop tops, those tiny lycra leggy thingies…) and I get unceremoniously duped into stretching my calfs and wearing polly shorts. The asthma pump is an unnecessary necessity!

And so another odyssey begins…

We drive somewhere. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing - I like driving. Stopping is a bad thing – which we do. This is where the problems will start.

Judogirl alights from the Beast (our bakkie, for those of you that don’t know). I exit… awkwardly. Now we have to stretch… Stretch…?  


Anyone who knows me knows – I can’t stretch: I am as flexible as an iron rod (and Donald Trump’s view on global warming). 

But I try. I wrestle my hamstrings into submission, grunting with effort while watching that little petit figure stretching, lunging, and bouncing around – dancing like a butterfly looking for the perfect flower to set upon. All dainty, colourful, flexible, in her perfect little outfit…WhacK!  A slap from judogirl jolts me back to my pending reality:  “Don’t stare at her like that, she’s about half your age!”
Yip, makes her a perfect 22 – I thought as much...

And before I do myself an injury stretching, we’re off!

Another thing you might not know is that I run exactly the same way I swim: like a rock! An uncoordinated rock. My running style is not so much a “style” as an exercise in contortion and panic: imagine running into a swarm of angry bees, swinging your arms violently around and over your head – giving yourself a pat on the back as you go – shaking your head ferociously this way and that, your ears keeping beat against the sides of your skull while foam bubbles from your mouth. Grasshopper legs (but thinner) that move like a boy scout’s trying to stomp out an errant bushfire over barrels of lard. Add to that a gimpy knee - which makes all of the above wobble slightly…  That’s me running. Downhill.

Uphill is worse.

Now I must admit, while running offers its challenges, I am most fortunate to face said challenges in a picturesque setting the envy of many. Well, almost everybody. So I take up my challenge with some gratitude:  mountains, sea, sun and sand, flowers, paths, whales and rabid mongoose. Oh, and of course judogirl’s glorious bum!

I know, I know – living the dream!!

We run in the glorious sun along beautiful paths, on cliffs bejeweled with indigenous fynbos in full bloom. Views abound across an azure bay where whales wave their tales and Mother Nature blows a breath of breeze filled with the aromas of spring. Sunbirds flirt and fleet while bees buzz joyously in the bounty of this little Eden. 

That’s what judogirl sees.

With my affliction of a running style I am forced to train my eye on the piece of earth immediately in front of me. I say “eye” because while one scouts the peril that lies ahead, the other remains trained on the object of my obsession (that got me into this ridiculous situation in the first place). Without that, this exercise would be rather fruitless (and stupid)!
So I see loose rocks and puddles, spider webs, trampled beetles, and the dust from judogirl’s shoes. And baboon poop (jeesh, I hope that was just baboon poo…) – CrAcK! – I didn’t see that branch…

I’m down, but I’m back up and running… (well, you know what I mean: stumbling disjointedly) after judogirl before she rounds the next bend – a trickle of blood across my forehead and a few stars competing with the non-existent bees around my head…

We’re on level ground and I’m doing all I can to stay in touch: arms flailing (somewhat more than usual) and legs churning molten lava (the wobble at a tilt), my good eye working overtime to lock onto my source of motivation. Fynbos pollen wafts into my lungs sucking every ounce of oxygen from my body, turning my wheeze into a ragged rasp and my legs to lead. The foam’s now also coming from my nostrils.

And then we hit the downhill…

No, don’t worry – that’s a good thing! “Pappa was a rolling stone” and all that – remember? Running, swimming – like a rock! Yeah!!

Just take the chaos above… and speed it up!

I’m catching up. My arms a blur of disentangled frenzy, my head bopping violently from side to side – ears slapping out the rhythm of “Eye of the Tiger” (sped up seven times), while my jowls and nostrils flare to catch as much of the pollen filled air as possible (my lungs collapsed a while ago) – blood on the forehead, foam everywhere! My legs are spinning like Asterix the Gaul’s after a swig of magic potion – wheels within wheels – heart rate be damned!  Eye on the prize!

Around the bend at break-neck speed… duck! (branch - saw it that time J)… stairs… stairs?


Literally at the bottom of what can only be described as a mineshaft.

And they don’t go further down – oh nooo! Straight up.

And not two or three little hop-skippety-jump stairs… oh no! A stairway of solid, gigantosaurus, rock encrusted, bone crushing, “we’re not going anywhere” stairs:  the actual stairway to heaven! And I know this because I know – in my state – that if I make it to the top of this stairway, I’ll surely be dead!

At this point science looks at religion, rolls its eyes incredulously, and says sarcastically:
When an uncoordinated blur of tumultuous frenzy churning molten lava downhill at breakneck speed encounters a solid immovable object, said frenzy must alter speed and direction (or velocity) in relation to solid object, or spit happens! **

** globally known as “the waynnesworld principle”

That’s science – adapt or die – no matter what you believe! 

My brain ditches belief in a flash and adapts, but inertia is only loosely related to momentum and in my scenario momentum is a bitch!

I hit those stairs with something reminiscent of the Charge of the Light Brigade: bravery outmaneuvered by stupidity!

(The only thing that might save me at this point are those prophetic words uttered by my physics professor: “ Science requires timing”)

I hit that first step with purpose and a plan... oh, by the way – I lack timing. My ankle buckles under the onslaught and my plan gives way like the French in war. Frenzy turns to collapse… Well, that’s what I try, but momentum is so great that inertia is swept aside and gimpy knee hits step two. Momentum gives a “whoo-hah” and levers the tumultuous ball of blur onto step three – shoulder – and the whack that follows is my skull as it hits step four. With gravity perplexed as to what’s up and technically needs to come down, velocity – still in full swing – seizes the opportunity to astonish the multiverse by using said skull as fulcrum to whip the body into an upward cartwheel – heading UP the stairs and ever closer to my impending doom!

This happens four times. FOUR TIMES!! A scientific marvel – an anomaly, you might say!

I hit the top step with a tHuD just in time to notice judogirl and that beautifully bobbing bottom bounce around the bend…  Worth it!

This is when the Yorkie attacks…

Woof, Woof, ThwaCK, TacK, woof, Wooooof!

“Stop chasing her you evil, nasty monster,” shouts the dog lover as she introduces me to the thick end of her walking stick. Fido is beside himself, but I’m not sure whether it’s his instinct to protect or survive that reigns – I can see it in his eyes: “Ggrrrr....huh? Ooh, look at all that slobber! I’m not biting that!!”

Judogirl arrives just in time… (the view from the front is not to be sneezed at either J)

“Oh hello Beatrice, so nice to see you! I see you’ve met my husband!”
“Oo dearie, really…? You could do so much better!”

OK, stop!

Look at this picture…   Take your time….    Reread if you have to…..

Remember Kricadopolis…

How could any of this be good for me?