If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, then the shortest distance between John, me, and an argument is a run, straight or otherwise. I've known this since we first started dating, and yet for the life of me I can't seem to learn my lesson. Here's the latest.
John was lucky enough to get a second day off this week (I heart construction). In John's defense, it was my idea to go for a family run to Old Town, grab brunch, pick up the glasses I'd just had re-lensed with plastic (the woman at the glasses store thought I was nuts for having clear plastic put in my glasses post-Lasik, but my frames were expensive and too cute to waste), and walk home.
"How many miles would it be if we took the long way to Old Town?" I asked John on Wednesday night.
"Three miles, maybe a little bit more," he assured me.
Here's the thing. John lies about the length of our runs EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I can't recall a single occurrence where John has accurately told me the length of a run in the ten years we've been together, despite the fact that he has a GPS and knows the length of every conceivable run in the area. Every time, it leads to an argument when three miles into our three mile run I realize we're nowhere close to home. And yet I believe him EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. John may be a liar, but I'm an idiot.
As we set out for our run on Thursday at 9:30 a.m., I already felt like crap. I'd woken up some time in the middle of the night with a migraine-quality headache, but by morning it was more of a slow burn than a full-blown rager, and I ignored it. Within thirty yards of our house John was way ahead of me, pushing Jack in the stroller (which happened to be holding my water bottle). For a half a mile I fumed silently, watching John continue to get farther away while I felt my tongue slowly shrivel in my mouth like a raisin. Finally I couldn't take it any longer. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" I yelled.
"We're going at 9:45 pace," John hollered back. "It's too slow!"
Now I grant you, that's pretty f-ing slow. But I like to warm up to my 8:45s, thank you very much. I screamed a few more obscenities and John wisely slowed his pace. But within another mile, we were back to running 8:45 pace. Normally, I can handle an 8:45 mile. I'm not THAT slow, for Pete's sake. But it was hot out there, folks. I've been running on a subterranean treadmill for the past year, blithely churning out my four miles a day at a comfortable ten-minute-mile pace in the basement, watching Pretty Little Liars on Hulu and slurping from a water bottle, basically doing anything I can to help myself forget that I'm actually running. It works for me, okay? I'm not fat, I can climb a flight of stairs without getting winded (provided I'm not carrying Jack), and my clothes from college still fit. I have accepted my state of slothliness. Why can't John get on board?
As Old Town finally came into view, my stomach was churning and my head was pounding. "I'm walking!" I finally shrieked, and planted myself in the middle of the sidewalk, my aching head hanging somewhere between my knees.
"But we're so close!" John said rather sadly. We'd run 4.45 miles. King Street was .05 miles away. I could see how much it was killing John to walk so close to his mental finish line.
I relished every second of it.
When I'd regained the ability to function, I assured John that we'd actually passed our finish line 1.45 miles ago, so really, he had nothing to worry about. We ate a leisurely lunch, picked up my glasses, and headed home. By now it was almost noon. The sun was beating down on us, and we still had two miles to go. When I got home, I headed straight upstairs for a shower, then collapsed on the couch. I literally had to tell myself out loud to get off the couch and go write.
For the rest of the day, I felt like a blob of green Jell-O. It was all I could do to eke out my ten pages and crawl back upstairs to help John put Jack to bed and make a salad. When we finally went to bed at ten, I felt like I'd been beaten over the head with my diaper bag.
I'd like to say "lesson learned."
If Running is John's mistress, she's my dorky study buddy. She's ugly, nerdy, has acne and a bad case of halitosis, but dammit if she isn't smart. I hate Running, but she's useful from time to time. She's always available and she doesn't cost anything to hang out with. Running keeps me in shape, allows me to eat the steady stream of baked goods that flows through this house, and makes me feel a little better about myself. I need Running at the end of the day. And I hate her for it.
John and I first ran together when we'd been dating for two or three months. I have this little problem where my ears get really cold when I run. It can happen when it's seventy degrees out, so I've been known to sport a TurtleFur skiing headband while out for a jog in Half Moon Bay. In July. For a while I wore a black beanie we dubbed "the nut," but it got lost somewhere in the wrinkles of time. At any rate, on our very first run together, my ears started hurting. John, who was still in love with the idea of me back then and hadn't yet realized what a pain in the ass I could be, sweetly cupped my ears with his hands for the remainder of the run.
That doesn't happen anymore.
Now, it's a miracle John doesn't take a bull-whip to me when we're out running together. In Kingsville, when John first started getting into running, he would literally run in circles around me. I don't think I need to tell you how obnoxious that is. He would run backwards next to me, even walk next to me just to illustrate how slow I was going. Then he'd do the very worst thing of all: offer to carry me for the rest of the run. He's lucky he wasn't the one who needed carrying at the end of those runs.
By the time we moved to San Diego, it was pretty clear that running together could only hurt our relationship. We got my parents' old treadmill and I was perfectly content to run in air conditioned comfort while John roasted on the hillside trails of Scripps Ranch. It wasn't until after Jack was born that we dared try running together, and we found a formula that actually seems to work for us:
John runs fifty miles.
The next day, we run three miles together while John pushes Jack in the stroller.
John runs behind me so he can concentrate on my ass instead of the fact that he can run faster ninety miles into a 100-mile run.
I think it's an equation we'll be sticking to for the time being.
Or at least for the next few weeks, when I somehow forget the misery Running brings into my life and decide it would be buckets of fun to go for a nice five miler with John.