Abe Vigoda’s Bloody Nipples
Photo by TravISU courtesy of Flickr.
If youâ€™ve run a road marathon, youâ€™ve probably heard an encouraging word from a volunteer or spectator. These folk mean well. Full of enthusiasm and wholeheartedly devoted to your cause, they shout, â€œYouâ€™re almost there!â€ and â€œItâ€™s right around the corner!â€ If youâ€™re seriously lucky, theyâ€™ll boldly proclaim, â€œYou look great!â€
These are all lies.
Youâ€™re not almost there. The finish line is not right around the corner, and you look far, far from great.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. I appreciate lusty support. But what if marathon fans couldnâ€™t use standard catchphrases? What if they were restricted to the raw, brutal truth? If so, somewhere around mile 22, unsuspecting runners would find themselves absolutely blitzed by excessive honesty. Imagine the wide-ranging, rather bizarre cheers:
â€œYou can keep that vomit down for another mile, I know it!â€
â€œYou have no chance of catching the senior citizen in front of you.â€
â€œYouâ€™re the only runner in sight. I offer half-hearted, token applause.â€
â€œYour bloody nipple shirt offends us, sir.â€
â€œHey look, itâ€™s Abe Vigoda!â€
â€œCan you hurry things up a bit? The police need to pick up these traffic cones.â€
How are you still upright?
â€œAll this effort for a cheesy, cotton T-shirt?â€
â€œYou appear to be running dangerously low on hope.â€
â€œThe Salt Vampire from the original Star Trek has nothing on you!â€
â€œYou know, I really just donâ€™t see the point.â€
â€œHey sweatipotimus! Five dollars says you get a class-A dehydration cramp before the next aid station.â€
â€œFrom the comfort of my curbside lawn chair, itâ€™s exceedingly easy for me to tell you to run faster.â€
â€œWe need an ambulance at mile 22, STAT!â€
â€œThe winner finished like, two hours ago.â€
Now then Intrepid runner, wouldnâ€™t you prefer lies? Who wants the truth when youâ€™ve got four or five oppressive miles to go?
At least fans care enough to show support. Goodness knows theyâ€™ve probably got more constructive things to do. Most just donâ€™t know any better. If they truly understood the unending, quasi-hallucinogenic misery of the last few miles of the marathon, theyâ€™d add subtle nuance to their spin doctoring. Theyâ€™d avoid exaggeration altogether.
But, I donâ€™t want that.
Fans, you keep right on telling me I look great. I know itâ€™s a lie. You know itâ€™s a lie. It will be our little secret, the proverbial elephant on the course. Weâ€™ll be as comfortable together as politicians and voters.
Beyond turning a deaf ear to alluring half truths, I have a practical solution. Fans, position yourselves after the 25-mile mark. Then youâ€™ll be free to say whatever you please about distance. At that point, even the most morose, pessimistic runners will concede theyâ€™re â€œalmost done.â€ Fans arenâ€™t censored. Runners are too buoyant to care. Everyone wins.
Better yet, cheer during the final .2-mile stretch run. There, youâ€™ll have carte blanche to say damn near anything to me. Nothing can offend when I can see the finish line. Call me Abe Vigoda. Insult my beatific grandmother. Heck, announce to the crowd that I heartily enjoy kicking puppies. Knock yourselves out.
But before this remember, I look fabulous.