Friday, November 26, 2010

Runaholics Anonymous

I walked into the hotel conference center feeling a pit in my stomach.  It was my first visit to an RA meeting.  It was Wednesday night, before Thanksgiving and I was 24 hours from my last run.  Traveling over the river and through the woods, you see, had kept my feet off of the road.  I was achy in the legs...probably feeling ESORW (Early Stage Obsessive Running Withdrawal) symptoms.

Greeted by an overweight man clutching a Wal-Mart 2 Gallon plastic container of Cheez-balls, I was led to my chair in the center of the group nearly assembled.  He struck up some idle chit-chat with me as we waited for the rest of the crowd.  I noticed he looked oddly like Dean Karnazes with an extra 200 pounds on him, but kept quiet.

"I was once like you.", he said with empathy as he pumped in another handful of Cheez-balls and wiping his hands on his orange stained stretchy pants.  I was running marathons every day for 50 days straight, across the desert...heck I even won BadWater a few times."

"Really?"  You?  I could not believe my eyes or ears. 

"Yes, whip thin, eating anything in sight.  Running at odd hours.  My entire wardrobe consisting of Lycra.  I even ordered pizza's to meet me on the road.  If I can do can beat it to Ed!!!"

The lights winked on and off.  Everyone had gathered and were sitting, politely sipping Gatorade and eating Clif Roks.  Time for me to pour my soul out...

"Hello.  My name is Ed Roshitsh and I am a Runaholic."

"Hi Ed" in unison of course.

"I am one day sedentary...(applause) and I am not sure how long I can remain so.  My story is sordid.  I am not proud of it...."

What came out of my mouth next was a heart wrenching account of the depths of depravity my habit has taken me....

"I have run by myself.  I have run with anonymous strangers.  I have run and paid money to do so.  I have run with other mens' wives.  I have run with threesomes.  I have even run with men.  I have run with the aid of machines.  I sometimes run 2-3 times a day (Gasps and murmuring from the crowd.)"

Cheez-ball boy walked up at this point, placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "Its okay Ed.  We have all been there.  Go on...tell us more. Get it out."

Gathering courage, I kept going...

"I have run in so many places I cannot remember where, when or how I even got there.  When I run sometimes it causes me to throw up and even go to the bathroom in people's backyards.  All my money?  Spent on Newton Running shoes, running apparel, timing watches, heart monitors, Cytomax, trainers, nutritionists, water bottles, Clif Bars.  I once planned a family vacation to Hawaii at the same time as the Hawaii International Marathon..."

"When I am awake, all I can think about is my next run, my next running gear purchase and the weather for the weekend when I go on 50 mile binges......."

"I sometimes wear black running socks with my work shoes...anything to make me feel like I am ready to go do some miles.  I don't have a problem though.  I can control it.  I can stop anytime I want.  I don't belong here with you all....."

"Stop.  Ed!  Enough!"  Cheez-Ball cried. 

The crowd was looking at the floor, the walls...anything not to make eye contact.  I obviously was beyond help.  These were Run-Aholic poseurs.  To them, I was hard core.   A gentleman who looked a lot like Scott Jurek stood up and said, "Ed, my name is Scott Jur...oops I mean John Smith.   You can save yourself.  Be strong!"

Cheez-ball boy closed the meeting out with the Runner's Anonymous Prayer...

Nike, please grant us the grace to accept with serenity the roads that cannot be run.  Courage to avoid 24 hour asphalt loop timed runs and the wisdom to understand that not all mountains are meant to be pink flagged and manned with rest stations stocked with raw potatoes and salt.  Amen.

I don' think I am going back....those people were losers.