Running with people is the worst form of socialization there is. Let’s get one thing straight, right away. What I do isn’t even considered running. It’s more like stumbling forward while internally sobbing; my heart begging my legs to cease and desist.
So, when my neighbor—a former Navy Seal with calf muscles the size of Tulsa—asked me to run with him, I found every excuse in the book to get out of it. Excuses were used for six straight months—good ones, too. Instead of just being honest with him, I opted to go deep into my excuse-making playbook. A funny thing about former Navy Seals though: they are persistent. So when the reservoir of excuses eventually became depleted, there was no choice but to accept Captain Calf Muscle’s offer. In my opinion, he knew I was excuse making and just waited me out.
“Where to?” he asked on the afternoon of our jog.
It’s necessary to point out that when a former Navy Seal asks you where you want to run, it’s important not to defer to him, unless you are a former Navy Seal yourself. Please, whatever you do, provide him with a short course if you are a lazy American like I am. Otherwise, you risk running to places you never knew existed.
“Totally up to you,” I responded.
Yes, I am a moron.
“Okay,” he said, almost too emphatically. “Let’s roll.”
Rolling would’ve been nice. What we did was not rolling.
“I don’t remember living around so many hills,” I said, panting like a dog in August.
“Where ya from?” he asked.
Not from Coronado (where the Seals train), I thought. “I’m from a small town called Quittersville,” I said. “Morale is low, but beer guts are high.”
He laughed, which is nearly impossible to do when you are in the midst of an actual run. The only other things my body can do when it’s running is to dry heave, pant, and question its existence.
We continued running. Well, he did. I continued stumbling forward while internally sobbing.
Rounding a corner, the smell of a fried chicken restaurant permeated the air. This is an utterly disgusting thing to smell when your body is already in the process of dry heaving. For the record, I didn’t actually vomit, and we pushed through until the air was less fried chicken scented and more car exhaust scented, which was an immense improvement.
“How far have we gone?” I asked Corporal Crusher, thinking we had run through at least three states.
“2.6 miles,” he said, after consulting his futuristic watch.
We plodded along a few more miles, and I was ready to kill this guy. He wasn’t even breathing heavy! It wasn’t possible for me to actually kill him because he was more trained in the art of killing than I was. Also, I’m not fond of going to prison.
As we approached my favorite beer spot, I threw my hands out lovingly toward the photo of an IPA in the window, as if I was one of Pavlov’s dogs. Remarkably, my running mate slowed his pace and said, “Let’s have a few cold ones and then Uber back home.”
I wanted to hug him and I did, perhaps a little longer than he would’ve preferred. It got awkward, but the beer was so good.
He became my new hero that day.