Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Maxathon: Part One


Six months ago my friend Max said he was going to train to walk a marathon to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The "society" bit makes it sound fancy, but don't be put off--it's just an outfit dedicated to finding a cure for blood cancers, one of which had its way with Max for a while. We're all tickled that he has recovered, as evidenced by his willingness to tromp for 26.2 miles on pavement, and it also makes him an Honored Teammate. He'd trained for a half-marathon earlier and was quite taken with his teammates and his coach and the whole bust-your-balls-for-charity approach. It does seem like a weightier undertaking than, say, counting birdies all day for Audubon, and people who are donating money like to see you all sweaty with a number pinned to your chest. So for the past few months Max has been learning how to walk fast and walk smart and get the right shoes and the right socks and the right gait. I thought: good on you, Max! Way to go, you big dummy.

Because I'd done this before. I'm no runner, but when I got shanghaied into doing a walking marathon, I couldn't see a downside. I was in my thirties and could knock off thirteen miles walking in my sleep, and shoot, all you have to do then is start over and do it one more time. I got Dave to go, too. We didn't train at all and on the big day we showed up with old sneakers and cotton socks and took off like we were shot out of a cannon. Our first half was at a blistering 12-minute-mile pace, and our second half degenerated into a sludgy, screamy, pain-filled, I'd-jump-off-the-bridge-if-I-could-swing-my-leg-over-the-railing, puke-bucket of a slog, in pus-filled socks. A mile from the finish line spectators lined the route and clapped and cheered and told us we were almost there and I told them to go fuck themselves, but they couldn't hear me because I'd run out of saliva.

So.

Anyway I assured Max he'd be just fine. We'd survived it, and if we could do that with no training, just think how great he'd be! Refreshed! Invigorated! He'd be a human bouquet of spring daisies at the finish line. He'd be a brace of big-eyed gamboling lambs in
running shorts. Sprightly animated Disney characters would float above his head playing trumpets and piccolos. He'd be just fine! And we'd be honored to be there for moral support. He'd knock it out of the park.

Dave got that squinty pained look he gets when he's trying to rein in his eyeballs before they roll back in his head, and said: you know. We were in our thirties and we thought we were going to die on the spot. Max is sixty.

Well! That is true. But he'd be just fine.

We got into it, actually. Max was doing all the work, and we agreed to scoop him up at the airport and drive him to central Oregon for the event. We talked our friend Linda into flying out from Boston just to cheer. We rented a house. We laid in a stash of celebratory beer. We practiced clapping so we wouldn't blister our hands on the big day. We got up at the crack of dawn to drive him to the starting line. It takes a village, and we were his villagers. Now it was all up to Max and his magnificent sixty-year-old calves. What could go wrong?

To be continued.

38 comments:

  1. What could go wrong? Oh God, I'm on pins and needles to find out.

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  2. Long, long ago...I trained as a walker. You know, the proper gait: heel-toe, one foot always in contact with Mother Earth. So I applaud your friend. But from the well-cushioned sideline.

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    1. I'll go you one better with my well-cushioned ass on the well-cushioned sideline.

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  3. I do admire those who have the tenacity to endure such self-punishment. I will continue to count birds and donate money to causes from the sofa.

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  4. Oh, dear. Anything that says "to be continued" is scary to me. But look at those calves! They are awesome. I can't wait, now. :-)

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  5. What a wonderfully supportive Village Max has!
    (It takes me four minutes to walk the 100 yards to the back fence, and just yesterday I told the Missus that if I could walk any faster I'd enter a half-marathon.)

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    1. Remember that Ellen Degeneres line about her mother? "She started walking five miles a day. She's 90 years old and we don't know where the hell she is."

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    2. Great line! And I'd kill, or do anything short of a marathon, for such calves.

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    3. I know what you mean, but they probably look better on him.

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  6. What could go wrong? I can almost hear the music from Jaws.....

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    1. I try to cover the "Jaws" music with Peter and the Wolf. Actually, they sound good together.

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  7. Thank you for warning us with "what could go wrong?" Because now I'll read the next post with my fingers over my eyes. It helps, really.

    Good for Max. I always wished I had calves like that. Perhaps a tad more feminine. But like that.

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    1. I do too. I think Max could Julienne carrots with those calves.

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  8. I'm training for a 10 miler and lawdy, now that I'm old and creaky, it is bloody awful stuff. Do you want to hear about the callouses in places callouses have no business being??????
    But I'm agog for the next installment..
    XO
    WWW

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    1. Yes I do. Except if your calluses are between you thighs. They have no business being there.

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  9. Uh-oh. I don't want anything to go wrong; I want Max to succeed beyond his wildest dreams. Could you write a story that ends that way?

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    1. Well of course I COULD write one that way. Let's see if I can eke one out.

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  10. At sixty or thirty, Max has always had great calves.

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    1. I know, right? He doesn't even need to earn them. But he did.

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  11. Not quite the same thing but not that far off either, your story about the marathon you walked in your 30s reminded me of an old favorite movie.

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    1. Oh god, I remember that one! Count me among the people who could not possibly win a dance marathon. Sleeplessness as torture is very vivid to me. I go right out at a certain point, and at that point--there may be pictures--people can paint cat whiskers on my face for me to find the next morning. Theoretically.

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  12. I used to be able to walk for miles too, sometimes now I still do it but unintentionally, like last Monday my brother and I were strolling around Rottnest Island for a couple of hours. We must have covered a few miles and I didn't even feel tired after. but walk around the block a couple of times and I'm all done in. Weird huh?

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    1. Unintentionally still counts. Sounds like you need something wonderful to look at. And it's not on your block.

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  13. I'm trying to psych myself into doing a 5K walk/run/crawl sometime when it's cooler (known as January 4 here in Florida). I'm so hoping for a great, victorious, Chariots-of-Fire music playing end to your story, because if Max can do 26.2 miles, maybe I can do 5K...maybe.

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  14. When I was in my long-ago and foolish 20's, I walked 20 miles for a charity. At that time, I was long-legged, skinny and had all of the original equipment. I thought I would die.....the NEXT day. I could not walk without pain for at least a week. Now I struggle to get in a mile in the neighborhood....but at least I am still walking the next morning.

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    1. Okay, that's it, people. We're not THAT old. Everyone does a mile tomorrow. At least a mile.

      Weird enough, I was pretty much normal the day after my long-ago marathon. It was the day OF that killed me. Thought I'd throw up. Drove home in first gear because I couldn't put the clutch in one more time.

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  15. Hey, speaking of murder, happy Bastille Day, everybody!

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  16. Ooooh, I'm all tense now. More, Murr, MORE! Roth x

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    1. Ha! As if you could shut me up, right?

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  17. Granite calves on that man. There must be a little sherpa in his familial woodpile.

    I walked 2 miles today. Nya nya. (Then I took a bath and fell asleep.)

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  18. Go Max!! I am totally routing for you! And I can't wait to hear more!!

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  19. I registered for this event too once, and was sidelined by a bruised tailbone. Which was fine. Because I was terrified. I have promised myself a marathon, however, to take place sometime during The Losing of the Second Hundred Pounds. I'm getting close-ish to the end of The Losing of the First Hundred Pounds, so I'mma havta take it for serious pretty soon. Shit.

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    1. Holy cow! Bad word choice. I'm impressed. Let us know when you do it. Shit, indeed.

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