And he is me.
Not really. But you can’t say the “I met the enemy” without the matching “and he is me (or us)” part. Symmetry, people, symmetry.
I was in my local running store the other day when I happened across a flyer innocently announcing the arrival of my Boston Marathon nemesis, Dick Beardsley, on Tuesday March 3rd, for a meet-and-greet, autographs of his books, followed by a lecture. I let out an indignant snort through my slightly over sized and upturned-like-a-ski-jump nose. Sure, I thought, Beardsley just happens to be coming to within a mile of my home for a presentation. Right. And I just happened to be doing chin ups on the window sill outside of the girls’ locker room in eighth grade.
You may remember our long running and completely fictional feud documented here and here.
Beardsley, or Beardzilla, appeared in his human form last night sans Godzilla body and laser Gu shooting eyes. He chatted amiably with local runners as he sat at a table signing their books and posters. I arrived a bit late and just before the scheduled speech but I could feel the tension once I walked in. Clearly, Beardzilla was here to take an early appraisal of me before our second tango on Heartbreak Hill. He got the better of me last year but, in this second game of chicken, Beardzilla blinked first. After all, I didn’t fly to Texas to do a speech within a mile of his home did I?
I spent the few minutes before the scheduled speaking time looking over the new shoes, perusing the running shorts, and fondling the wicking socks. A long and steady line of folks – or his “minions” as I call them – approached his makeshift altar for some sort of written instructions inscribed onto the front flap of their Beardsley bibles. Obviously, I’ve underestimated the depth of this anti-Nitmos conspiracy.
I could feel his eyes burning into the back of my calves as I wandered about the store. I’m pretty sure his head spun around backwards like The Exorcist’s Regan when I silently moved behind him. We were like two caged tigers pacing, alert and vigilant, each waiting for the other to make the first move. In the background, a large screen projection of the final minutes of his near miss in the legendary 1982 Boston Marathon (chronicled in Duel in the Sun) repeated in a loop. Every six minutes or so, Beardsley would barely lose again to the “unbeatable” Alberto Salazar.
Finally, Beardsley took the floor for his talk. His forked tongue* spewed out hilarious tales of awkward teenage rejection, inspiring anecdotes about his running failures and how his positive attitude carried him forward with each new setback, and his almost unbelievable tragedies involving tractors, T-bones, trucks, and cliffs all occurring within a short time frame. His stories about his drug abuse were heartfelt and emotional. Beardsley’s voice trembled and almost broke as he revealed the hurt it caused to his family and friends.
In short, the man appeared distinctly human and genuinely likable. For a brief period, I even regretted superimposing his head onto a Godzilla body and assigning him all sorts of maniacal characteristics. An apology felt in order.
Dick and Jill Beardsley now run the Dick Beardsley Foundation to benefit those struggling with chemical dependency. As he mentioned last night, it’s a difficult charity to garner contributors as – unlike cancer or diabetes or muscular disease sufferers – those suffering a chemical dependency are often looked upon as weak and are left to struggle with their disease on their own. Folks leap to help out a cancer patient but frown at someone with a chemical dependency. Just try coaching your daughters soccer team after 14 beers and see what I mean. You can really feel the negative vibes from the parents. Trust me. It’s a worthwhile charity and one I recommend you all check out and, if you feel motivated, contribute. Here’s the link again.
When the talk concluded, I realized 80 minutes had gone by in a flash. I had the feeling the man could talk all night if you let him. Sadly, we did not get to hear about how his eye got glued shut though I will never approach a tractor again, thankyouverymuch. I was intermittently inspired, laughed my ass off, motivated and touched by his personal stories.
Then, it dawned on me. I had been mesmerized for over an hour. He’s a mind control ninja. Obviously, he had decided that, physically, I would not be beaten on Heartbreak Hill again but, maybe, mentally, he could destroy me.
The final laugh is on him. We are only six weeks out from the 2009 Boston Marathon. However, I will not be returning to Boston until 2010.
Ha and ha.
I am still sabbaticaling. You have not cried out loudly and repetitively enough for my return. My ego takes tremendous stroking and you are all treating me like some anonymous, easily replaceable blogger and we both know that ain't the case. Sadly, March promises to be even more busy for me than February.
I am preparing diligently for my "fun run" Flying Pig Marathon on May 3rd. Despite the freezing ass weather, I have hit every scheduled run - a first for January and February training for me. My love for marathon training was renewed this past weekend when, after four weeks of long runs in the 15-16 mile range, I did an "easy" thirteen. I love the fact that a half marathon is considered an easy training distance!
Sunday: 13 miles @ 7:18 pace in full on Sherpa training gear.
Last night: My first Limbo run of the year! 5 miles @ 6:55 pace. Miles of 7:14, 7:03, 7;02, 6:45, 6:29.