Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Runner Zero

It won’t be a surprise to you to learn that I have a disease. It may be a surprise to you that it didn’t originate from Singapore. I was infected sometime about July 1999 in a small northern Michigan community. I had full blown symptoms the following spring. There were no “bathhouses” involved, no toe tapping, no George Michaels so – WHAM! – get those thoughts right out of your head.

No, it’s not Chronic Handsomeness either thankyouverymuch. It’s not even mild Pancreatic Hirsuteness. It’s running. I’m stricken. Someone gather my friend* and family and hook me up to a Gu I.V. I’ve been ill for over 12 years and the symptoms are only getting worse.

- Long periods of raging symptoms followed by shorter periods of (post-race) remission? Check.
- Inability to concentrate (on anything but training plans and paces)? Check.
- Preoccupation with inconsequential things (such as the elevation levels of a city’s streets)? Check.
- Explosive diarrhea? Of course.
- Inability to control my vulgar language? Fuck yeah.
- Change in body disposition? How high do you want that quarter to bounce off my ass?
- Change in temperament? Do I seem stable to you?
- Engages in hopelessly repetitive and damaging behavior? Want to watch 'Spirit of the Marathon' again?

I’m a first generation runner in my family. I come from an athletic clan too but usually they were chasing balls of some sort. I’ve evolved to the point where I don’t need balls to engage in a sport. Er, I don’t use balls…I mean, I don’t have any need for balls. Look, I have balls, okay? Stop badgering me.

Like patient zero, I’m runner zero in my family. Whoever is infected with the disease from here on out, well, it’s my fault. Being runner zero, the rest of the extended family generally has no idea what it takes to train, run a race, recover, work on speed, etc. We’ve all heard the “what distance is your marathon?” question. We’ve all heard a family member announce proudly that they are walking a “marathon 5k” for charity. My mother thinks the Gu packets I take out the door with me are some sort of illegal steroid. My dad has always told me that it’s good to be a little overweight…provides extra substance to your body to help fight illness. They both look at me sideways when I get noticeably gaunt (i.e. “fit”) as race day approaches.

No, the extended family doesn’t get it. I guess it’s probably the same way that the African guy, who came home with that satisfied look smelling of monkey sweat, must have been treated. It’s strange; it’s different; I’ll be gone tomorrow afternoon too.

In this case, I’m hoping the illness is carried by at least one, if not both, of my kids. Like any disease carrier, I’d like to spread it to as many people as possible. In fact, I’ve been trying to make running “cool” for my kids (who seem to think everything I do is “lame” and usually just look at me and say “Really?” in a disgusted tone). So, as I strap on my Asics, I cry out “Yo yo, I’m going for a run, bitches!” That’s cool, right? Plus, I made up a little rap to explain my disease-like devotion to running in hip Generation Z vernacular:

I’m heading out the door
No, that’s not a cold sore
It’s not Herpes simplex one
It’s Herpes simplex RUN!

Cool right!?! They scoff and eye-roll but I know they’re impressed that I came down to their level. See how I make running cool for the next generation? Yep, this disease should spread in no time.

Happy transmitting.

*clerk at Blockbuster


ELizabeth said...

ha! you always crack me up. So yes, the ol' "how far is the marathon you are running next week?" ...I have heard that question many times...I try hard not to answer in a snide, sarcastic manner, but it is getting increasingly hard not to. I am proud to say I have now infected all three of my siblings with my running disease, thank you very much. I am hoping one of my three kids gets it. The boy is starting to kind of talk about it like he might maybe like to sort of try it some time. The girls are still in the "but it makes me breathe hard and sweat so why would I want to do that" phase. I will keep at them though.

lindsay said...

Better hope Blockbuster stays in some sort of business so you don't lose your friend.

I never thought of this as a disease, but now I see you are right. What kind of 'scripts can I get for this??

BrianFlash said...

Clerk at Blockbuster?! I didn't know anyone still went in there. Heck, I didn't think anyone still worked there - totally just a store front laundering money from some kind of organized crime.

jen said...

I'm definitely runner zero. I got my husband to start running, and am still a bit bitter about him becoming so much faster than me and signing up for ultra distances I haven't had a chance to do. Where's the respect? He should at least ask for my blessing, don't you think?

Xenia said...

I'm definitely herpes simplex zero. And I'm wiping my festering lip on everything I can to infect others.

That's what you were talking about, right?

Char said...

I've heard that it's caused by a recessive gene, so your parents must both be carriers. Mine are too but out of the five of their children I'm the only one with it and I consider myself lucky.

Good running habits said...

:) of course there is eye-rolling

Deb said...

True story: For the past two years, I've coerced two of my four VERY sedentary siblings into doing a run in the old neighborhood in which we all grew up. They cheated both years.

Anna said...

I'm almost runner zero. I have a cousin who runs. My biggest annoyance is that my entire family says, "Anna and Ginger (my cousin) ran the St. Jude Memphis Marathon!" I ran the marathon; she just ran the HALF. But she doesn't correct them. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm a web content strategist, and when asked, my family says my job is to "work on the internet."

Jill said...

My daughter's always called my running a disease and thought I should go seek therapy for it....yet she's the first one who wants to go with me when I travel to a destination race. I tried to get all 3 of them to run, and they all did in middle school when it was nothing but social hour gone mad, but only one has continued on to the high school level and is doing very well. Imagine the day when your kid will talk non-stop about running and you actually get tired of listening to it. I know, crazy, but there are days. I'm certain I don't sound as annoying to my non-running friends!

Aka Alice said...

LOL...runner zero.

Yep, that's me. Everyone else has balls, although nobody expected me to, so running is an even stranger thing to all of them.

Ironman By Thirty said...

I am happy to report there is a cure. My dad was Runner Zero in my family. I repeat, "WAS". He has since been cured. He is now a cyclist. haha

I am finding myself Runner Zero with my wife and in-laws all starting to run. It is spreading.

Al's CL Reviews said...

When I told my family I ran, I got asked how many times I've sprained my wrist.

And I'm asked how far my marathon is this week all the time.

Bill Fine said...

Funny stuff, man....

I'm definitely the Runner Zero in my family......not that I'm athletic in any fashion, but I definitely do not come from athletes. Still, I'm out there fighting the good fight.

I'm also hopeful I can "infect" my son....he certainly loves to come out to cheer me on when I race, so my hope is he'll soon be out there, leaving me in the dust....we can only hope!