“When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can’t fool yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically a writer has a quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.” (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, pg. 10.)
So spoke Murakami.
I think that’s how I got into the running game – with a more road-ready inner motivation. Although my foray into the athletic stage isn’t nearly as eloquent as Mr. Murakami’s. Bascially, I used to work in restaurants. Scores of restaurants (delis, diners, five stars, bars) that brought employees together in the only way they knew how: the back dock smoking lounge.
People don’t peg me a smoker, and I can’t say I don’t appreciate their surprise. When I worked in restaurants I worked long hours. When one works long hours, one capitalizes on any and all breaks given them. Which is to say, I smoked some cigarettes. Daily.
But I wasn’t a portrait of long savory puffs in a darkened alley with the strong arm of a tall man in a driving cap around my waist. No, no. These were harried puffs amongst angsty bartenders and hostesses that did little to welcome or elevate friendships. We just past the time in the only way we knew how. And for us, that was enough.
But, bad habits have a way of having a way with you. So, I developed a sore throat and, as luck would have, three back to back shifts. But, even more opportune, I had a 10 minute (10 minutes!) back dock break between shifts one and two and ran out to enjoy a smoke treat with Ellie.
I still can’t attribute my dramatics to anything in particular, but just as I was about to light one up and take a drag something happened. My mind completely rewired and I made a declaration. A very loud declaration. I told all the servers in proximity that I was going to change my life and quit smoking. We were in tuxedos. Near an oversized dumpster enjoying a brief reprieve and I was hollering about health and happiness. No one said a word. I think I was afraid no one would take me seriously so I threw my cigarette pack to the ground and jumped on them. My jumps weren’t incredibly effective and still, no one had spoken, so I picked them up and lobbed them into the dumpster. Only Ellie said, “I would have taken those.”
And then… synapses. Something fired in my mind. I convinced myself in the span of Ellie’s sentence that I would have to do something representative of someone with good, clean lungs. It was then I decided I would have to run a marathon. (More …)