A few months ago, my employer offered free health screenings to employees. After my test, my screener told me my numbers were “perfect.” I was so impressed with myself that in the post-screening survey I offered to be a celebrity spokesperson for the screening company. The survey was anonymous, so this amounted to nothing, and likely millions of potential sponsorship dollars lost. I’m still salty about it.
Relishing my newfound physical perfection, I promptly ordered Portillo’s and resumed my habit of eating enough food for 3 people every day and only moving when I’m participating in a ping pong tournament.
It may seem as though I had it made; I was living every person’s dream. But in the months since the declaration of my perfection by a seasoned medical professional, I’ve noticed a bulge in my belly and a steady increase in my weight. In a half-hearted attempt to combat this decline in my perfection, I signed up to run the BTN Big 10k, representing my alma mater and favorite Big Ten school, The University of Iowa. I invited my college buddy Byron, who runs marathons, and my roommate Daniel, who runs regularly, to join me. My friend Erin and her roommate joined as well.
The only reason anybody ever runs a race at all is to talk about it more than anyone cares to listen, so I told a bunch of people I was running it. They were impressed and asked if I had run a 10k before (no), if I had been training (no), or if I was excited (no). Let it be known that yes, I did talk about it a lot. But there was no hype. At best, it was an excuse to see Byron, who I hadn’t seen in over a year. At worst, it was an absolutely terrible decision that could taint my reputation as the physical embodiment of perfection.
The race fell one day after my work summer party, which involved many glasses of wine in toasty weather, songs I half knew, a microphone, and a cowbell. Then a night of pizza and more wine during the Olympic opening ceremony. My 5:15 a.m. alarm was quite unwelcome. Regardless, I rallied and prepped for the race with a bottle of water. I was not excited until I found out finishing the race would land me a shiny medal.
All of my race companions had enough foresight to select their starting corral weeks before the event. I did not. So they all joined me in corral H, the very last one, meaning we didn’t start until a half hour after the scheduled run time. When we finally began the race, Byron disappeared into the crowd at what I can only assume was world record speed (sidebar: Byron warmed up for the race by running like an overachiever). Daniel wasn’t far behind.
This left Erin, her roommate, and I to move along at our steady trot. The first few miles were uneventful, save for the fact that I felt like I was facing certain death at the hands of a useless endeavor.
My dad used to tell me you were supposed to feel good after running. He told me this to convince me to join him on a 2 mile run. After said run, I yelled at him from the bathroom, where I was certain I would vomit, berating him for lying about the positive effects of moving just a little bit faster than I’m comfortable with.
We reached mile 3 and walked for a few minutes, then resumed our slow jog. At mile 4, Erin and I walked some more. By “some more,” I mean 2 of the remaining 2.2 miles. Once we passed mile 6, we ran the rest of the way so we didn’t look completely lazy.
I felt proud of myself for running at least half of the race, but I was mostly saddened by the revelation that I may not be as perfect as my health screening had me believe. Still, this notch in my record was made worthwhile by the medal I received for finishing. That I received a medal at all is kind of ridiculous considering my results, which made me laugh out loud:
So. What did I learn? That no matter how many unnecessary races I sign up for, I still hate running. That I’m not the universal picture of physical health. That it’s nice to get a medal for something even if you didn’t try that hard.
Next week: Cole makes questionable decisions with big, bouncy balls and a horny machine.