Acts of Running Desperation

I’ve sort of unofficially signed on to this 120 Day Challenge that Kate, Jason, Vanessa, and a bunch of the other crazy blogging-runners I virtually associate with have cooked up.  The idea is to run every day for 120 days without missing a day.  Since one DOES need to rest and recover somewhat, the minimum per day is set very low: 1 mile, and it doesn’t have to be all at once.

I say I’ve “sort of unofficially signed on” because I know that I’m not going to make all 120 days.  Running every day of the week is easy, since its my commute, but fitting in even 10 minutes of running on the weekends with two kids is not always possible.  Not that it is impossible, but I know I lack the will to always fit in a run alongside everything else we’re doing on a packed Saturday and Sunday; since I don’t want to have my running inconvenience my already over-worked partner, if I’m not taking both kids out in Bowser, that means running after everyone is asleep, and that takes an obscene amount of will-power.  I’m hoping to do two runs on the weekends, since a minimum of 1 mile really does only mean 7 to 10 minutes, but I’m going into this with realistic expectations.  Starting a challenge knowing you aren’t going to fulfill it does seem a bit cheap, and giving myself that sort of lee-way from the start makes it more likely that I’ll give ground when I wouldn’t otherwise, as less is at stake, but there it is.


Today was day 10, and so far I’ve only missed 1 day — Angelica’s birthday — and that was filled with visitors, last-minute shopping, and cake.  Today was going to be my first day of running the minimal 1 mile; I’ve got parent-teacher conferences until 6:30 at night, so I decided to bike to school and squeeze in a quick, 10 minute run at lunch.  But when I finally shoved all my students out of my class and dug into my backpack, I discovered I’d left ALL my running gear at home.  I was wearing my Altra Instincts as my walking-around shoes, but my shirt and shorts were sitting back at home on my dresser.

My first thought: “Dammit, I really wanted to go for a quick run.”

My second thought: “I could run a mile in my jeans and t-shirt”

My third thought: “It really, really sucks to run in jeans.”

Then: “I do have that old pair of dress pants that don’t really fit . . .”

So I slipped into the faculty bath-room and used my leather-man to hack the legs off an old pair of twill pants — instant running shorts!

I shoved the shredded lower-halves of the legs into the garbage, pulled on my arm-sleeves and head-scarf, and headed out into a slight drizzle.  I had an undershirt on, so I slipped off my tee as soon as I was at the end of the block, and ran in the most unusual combination of cut-off twill slacks, grey tank-top undershirt, and Pearl Izumi arm-sleeves.

I hadn’t worked out a route at all, so I just ran by my watch: knowing my slowest running wouldn’t be more than a 10 minute mile, I just had to run 5 minutes then turn around.  Of course, running only 5 minutes is pretty hard, since one’s just warming up, so I didn’t turn around until 8.  I’d done a real slow jog out, since this one-mile day was supposed to functionally be an “off” day, but heading back I felt I wanted to squeeze something into this small space, so I sprinted back, covering the same distance in just under 6 minutes.  Checking later, I did about 1.8 miles.

Then it was back to the regularly scheduled day.  Back in the faculty bath-room I changed out of my cut-offs into an un-butchered pair of kakis, then pulled on a pin-stripe shirt, vest, and bow-tie in order to be ready for parent-teacher conferences.  And now I have a pair of “running shorts” stashed in the closet of my room . . .


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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