“Only 13 miles!” I gasp, “The most I ever ran in my entire life was 3 miles and I was passed by a woman pushing a baby carriage. If I try to run 13 miles I’ll get passed by babies pushing baby carriages.”
“Do or Do not. There is no try,” Stephen says.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask.
“That’s what Yoda says to Luke when he’s learning to use the Force.” Stephen says.
“Oh that’s great. You’re trying to motivate me with a quote by a green puppet in a science fiction movie.”
“So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done,” Stephen says in a Yoda voice.
I’m not an athlete. I did play Little League baseball as a kid, but I was a constant disappointment to my baseball loving dad. I just never had the “eye of the tiger.” I was always afraid of getting hurt. Once when I was playing second base I was standing there biting my fingernails. Dad yelled from the sidelines, “Get your fingers out of your mouth!” Embarrassing.
I also made my 8th grade basketball team. There were eight boys in my class. Two didn’t try out, and out of the six who did, I was the number six guy after the five starters. Whenever I got in I was so nervous that about half the time I’d throw the ball to the other team. Once I intercepted a pass and broke toward the basket. Driving down court I had a clear and easy layup shot. But I tensed up, shot, hit the bottom edge of the backboard, the basketball ricocheted down and I kicked it out of bounds.
You also need to get the right kind of running clothes.
However, at my age you can’t possibly look cool in anything. If your shorts come above your knees, people say look at that old guy in short shorts. If you wear shorts to your knees people say look at that old guy trying to look like a teenager. You lose either way.
Seek out running tips from your friends who run. My friend Greg gave me this tip: “LSD.”
“Lucy in the sky with diamonds?” I asked.
“No — Long, slow distance.”
I definitely have the slow part down. The other day my Nike app said to me, “Congratulations tortoise. You just ran faster than The Blob.”
One technique athletes use is visualization.
For example, a high jumper pictures himself approaching the bar, clearing it, then landing successfully on the other side. When I run I visualize myself collapsing into a heap, being life-flighted to the hospital, then the doctor saying to my wife, “We did all we could to save him but it just wasn’t enough.” Then I visualize my funeral and Stephen saying,”I told my dad ‘Do or Do not. There is no trying.’ My Dad Did not.” Then I visualize my wife cashing in my life insurance and living happily ever after.
Next to my concern that I might suffer a stroke, an even bigger concern is where will I go to the bathroom?
I’m concerned because my particular training regimen involves hydrating myself with large amounts of coffee. My wife, a nurse, tells me coffee is a diuretic, which means that caffeine – one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity and a greater source of energy than the Marsalis Shale – makes you have to go to the bathroom more often than a Ruby Throated Hummingbird. So I’m hoping the race either winds through deep woods or passes lots of gas stations. However, I’m thinking of weaning myself off coffee and hydrating myself with something else. I’m wondering if beer might be a good idea…