Some words to the wise: Never get bogged down in a land war in Asia. And if you’re going to run a five kilometer race, in Asia or elsewhere, don’t fall down.

And definitely don’t fall down twice.

Falling down tends to slow you down, interferes with your race time and allows you to be beaten to the finish line by the guy in the Super Mario computer game Halloween costume and the woman in her eighth month of pregnancy. It also, incidentally, will rip up your knees, scorch your hands, crumple your arm and make you start seriously wondering why you weren’t home eating Cheetos.

Or so I’m told.

I speak here, of course, hypothetically. Because absolutely nothing like this has ever happened to me, the Western Hemisphere’s slowest and most careful runner. But if it did, it might have happened something like this.

Somewhere around the middle of a recent race, in the middle of the deep woods, on a bumpy dirt trail, there was a rock or a tree root or a hardened, stale Twinkie silently sticking up from the trail. No one else was looking for it, no one else could find it, but I did!

I could have missed it, of course, like the rest of the runners did, but I’d show them how I still had my unerring sense of direction — without a GPS! My left foot easily found the obstacle.

I stumbled. You know that millisecond, when you stumble, when you truly believe you’ll be able to right yourself and continue on like before? This wasn’t that millisecond.

I crashed to the ground, landing on my knees, my hands, my arm, my side, my pride. A fellow runner stopped to ask if I was OK. We have this special code among runners — when asked if we’re OK, we always collegially respond: No, you idiot, I just crashed to the ground, landing on my knees, my hands, my arm, my side, my pride. I’m bleeding and I want to be home eating Cheetos.

After that warm exchange of camaraderie, I got up and continued to run. For about another half mile or so.

That’s when my foot hit another bump in the ground and I took another tumble. But this was completely different from the first tumble. At no time, during this tumble, did I ever truly believe I’d be able to right myself and continue on like before.

Nevertheless, I got up and continued on like before. We have a code among runners: Keep going until you can damage another part of your body.

It would be nice to add now that, despite the tumbles, despite the damage to my pride, I raced to the finish line and was greeted with acclaim. Actually, I was greeted by Super Mario and the pregnant lady, who not only already had finished, but weren’t even bleeding.

Both of them appeared to be eating Cheetos.

Advertisements