If You Lay There - You'll Stay There

I could feel the small bits of sand, rocks and asphalt as they did their work on my arms. Not the tops or outer parts of my man-sized forearms, but the less protected fleshy stuff. It's the areas that get exposed when you extend your arms in a futile effort to avoid becoming 'that guy'. You know that guy I'm talking about. The one everybody in the clubhouse is talking about later. "Did you see 'that guy' on mile 7? Did anybody take 'that guy' to the hospital? Whatever happened to "that agony of defeat guy" on the ski ramp in the Wide World of Sports?"


Where Did This Happen? 


At the annual "Make It By Midnight" Marathon. The idea is to start whenever you want, just be sure to finish by midnight. If you finish before midnight you get a tiara and a t-shirt.  If you finish after midnight, you get a pumpkin and a 'better luck next time". Since this was our first one, we chose an 8PM start. Plenty of time to finish.
Because it's a well heeled subdivision with a lake, I never thought it might not have street lights. On top of that, because it's such a long event, the automobile traffic isn't halted. The only good thing was the part of the course that takes you by the lake. I saw several runners jump in the water just too cool down. I also noticed some non-runners using Pabst, Budweiser, and other cold tasty beverages to achieve their coolness. It was July. It was Georgia. It was hot! Drinking, driving, and running in the street. What could possibly go wrong?

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges! 


The organizers provided flashlights, but my man brain decided I didn't need it. It didn't match my forearms. It was too clumsy and girly for this manly man. In hindsight, if I would have had the flashlight, I could have held it up thereby alerting the guy with the ladies forearms in the Corvette convertible curling the huge Foster's Lager that "Hey, I'm running here!"
Instead, I had to adjust.

No Big Deal 


It was such a small adjustment. Six inches to the left, on the edge of the pavement, and just out of the way of the Corvette hurtling towards my crotch. Piece of cake. I can do this. But as the edge of the pavement gave way, I was thrown to the left and felt a slight snap as my ankle rolled with it. Being the fine tuned, large forearmed, athletic specimen of a man that I am, I over compensated by flailing the aforementioned forearms to the right and in the general direction of the oncoming traffic. I immediately start flailing in the other direction. Not only do I feel the second snap, but I hear it too. Looking a lot like Pinocchio now, arms fully extended, my big manly ass hit the pavement. Forearms first.

Oh Shoot! My Ankle! Fudge! 


As I lay there, several things flashed through my mind. Had I really just ended 2 years of work and 16 weeks of training with a Shelly Duvall-esque Olive Oyl impression? What would my online supporters say? What about the guys at the gym? Even worse, what would I say to my three large forearmed manly sons as my five foot nothing 23 year old running companion daughter carried me back into the house?  I thought about what Lou Holtz said was the difference between a great player and an All American. "When an All American gets knocked down, he gets up, finds the quickest route to the ball, and arrives there in a bad mood!"

Fortunately My Pride Broke My Fall 


So I got up and started running again. Limping really, but at least it was forward motion and closer to our goal. My daughter began asking me "Are you OK Dad? Do we need to stop? Can you make it?" Turning my head to check traffic (and hide the baby ass tears streaming down my cheeks) "I'll be fine." I said. "How long was I down?" "About 3 seconds!" she said. "Good job!"
I thanked her and made some comment about how it didn't hurt that much.
What I was really thinking was "3 seconds my ass. No way all that crap poured through my head in that short of period. And what in the hell is that clicking noise comin' from my ankle? Don't act like you don't hear it! I'm Gumby dammit!”

Click Thump. Click. Thump. Click Thump. 


For the next 6 miles or so my daughter pretended like she didn't hear the loud noise emanating from my ankle. She was focused on saying things to keep me motivated. For example at mile 10 she said "Come on! We're almost there. Only 3 and half miles to go!"
"AWESOME!"  I said while thinking of a phrase that rhymes with bucket.  I may have even mumbled something like "What the hell did she tell me that for? How is that helpful? She's just paying me back for not buying her the good flute in grammar school!".

How's That Forearm Comin'? 


Around mile eleven I got a call from my left testicle. "Hello Stan. Good news! I can't do anything about that pesky ankle, but I can help you forget about those scrapes on your forearms!." And POOF. Just like that. My forearms quit hurting! I tried to convince myself that it was because the blood had long since dried and the gnats no longer stuck to the wounds, but my testicle would have no part of that. It insisted on reminding me on every step exactly what deserved the credit for my sudden loss of interest in my forearms.
Any other time I may have talked about it with my running partner, but in this case...well... let's just say my daughter and I have never had those kinds of discussions. Besides, one of my two best friends was now here to keep me company!  Oh yes. Life couldn't possibly be better. This is PERFECT I thought.

Somebody Put Me Out Of My Misery Please


We were on our way up what appeared to be the side of Stone Mountain on mile 12 when I heard some one greet us from behind. "Am I going the right way?" the cheerful voice inquired. Due to the loss of blood from my arms, the lack of oxygen at that altitude, and the strain of running with my left leg fully extended as far away from the rest of my body as possible while maintaining some semblance of respect for my twisted ankle, I was unable to respond. Our visitor and my daughter giggled girlishly about something, then they ran past me and into my line of vision.
Six foot something, 350 pounds and counting; it was wearing some sort of sleeveless muscle shirt with no bra and shimmering sky blue spandex running shorts. I felt somewhat euphoric as the epiphany of finally understanding the expression 'full moon' rested gently into my cranium.
Apparently they hadn't caught the sarcasm in the sales clerks voice when they said "Oh yeah. That size fits all! You look good in those!"  What I remember is that as they ran past me I saw the words "Help Me" in raised letters on their right butt cheek. I'll never get over it. The image haunts me still.
As soon as they got out of earshot I said "Stupid idiot doesn't even know where they are going!" My lovely offspring reminded me that I didn't say anything bad about the 13 year old kid on crutches pushing his grandfather in a wheelchair that passed us about 30 minutes ago, so why pick on them?  "Because they were  stupid!" I said. "Smart enough to stay out of a pothole." is what I think she said.
Making a mental note to remove her from my will, we pressed on.

Other Wonderful Thoughts 


There were other wonderful insights that occurred to me during my visit to the Pantheon of Pain. They were all jumbled up, and coming at me so fast there was no way to address or remember them all, but they went something like this:
  • Maybe if I just use one ankle, the pain will be half as bad! 
  • I hate our dog! She's always barking when strange people are walking around the house at night! 
  • I wonder if the rings around Saturn are actually made of mustard and not cheese like everybody thinks!
  • Apparently I have no friends because true friends would have talked me out of this. 
  • When a wild bear craps in the woods, does it mean 30 more days of winter? 
  • So THIS is why my wife checked on my life insurance policy yesterday! 
  • and of course "42". 

The Finish Line 


When we rounded the the final turn, we could see the finish line about 50 yards away. "You go on ahead honey!" I said "I'll never make it before Midnight. It's already 11:00"  She broke into some kind of 'don't you wish you could do this' sprint and finished up. By the time I traversed the final 45 yards she was already beginning to doze in one of the lawn chairs. All I wanted was my picture with a tiara on my head so I could take my butt home and could say "I did THIS!" I was 'Happy As A Pig In Crap.' so to speak.

The Moral of the Story


If your business or personal life is crushed by some unseen circumstance and you get thrown to the ground, you have two choices. You can struggle to your feet and do your best to finish. People will help you along the way.  They won't always say or do the right thing, but that's ok. For the most part, they really do want to see you cross that finish line.  Just not before they do.
Or
You can lay there and stay there, with your bloody forearms and twisted ankle.
But at least you won't have a swollen testicle. I believe there is value even in that.

The Agony Of Defeat Guy


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Stan Bush's (Me) passions are marketing, music, research, reading, writing and listening. I provide various consulting services, as well as hands on implementation for proof of concept. I began writing Surfin With Stan in 1994 and was published in various Knight-Ridder newspapers. I am self employed. Sales Training And Networking on Google+