Commentary: I’ve run 10,000 miles, but I’m not sure where it’s gotten me

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William Carter, columnist

William Carter is a retired longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com.

Ten thousand miles.

Cue the reverb and the Elvis-entry music and I’ll say it again.  

Ready? Ten thousand miles.

I’ve been keeping a log of my daily runs for the past few years now, writing down route, mileage, weather, weird and strange encounters with weird and strange people, dead possum and armadillo count, etc.  

It borders on obsession, I know, but before anyone judges me, keep in mind that logging running miles is no stranger than knowing the shoe size of the quarterback for the 1978 Jets or what type of bologna Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes to eat. And, believe me, I know people who can absolutely tell you what brand of bologna Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes to eat, as well as the exact date he had his latest colonoscopy, how long he brushes his teeth, what he puts on his oatmeal and whether or not he talks to his dog when no one else is around.  

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that obsession is in the eye of the beholder.  

Anyway, 10,000 miles. Wow. That’s the equivalent of laying 10,000 single miles end to end or enough space for a soccer mom to safely parallel park an SUV in front of Starbuck’s. If I’d had a destination, I could have run to Kroger and back 3,333 times or maybe, just maybe, reached the borders of Our Town’s urban sprawl area by now. If headed for the moon, 10,000 miles would have me in orbit, slowly tumbling head over heels, dead from lack of oxygen, and covered with ice crystals.  

Why, 10,000 miles is, almost, half the distance Donald Trump has traveled in a golf cart since he’s been in office. It boggles the mind.

Time-wise, if I use an average of 8½ minutes per mile, I have spent 1,417 hours on the road. In that time, I could have watched 2,833 episodes of “Gilligan’s Island” or sat through six sermons by any south Georgia Baptist preacher. 

Or, 21,250 bags of microwave popcorn, not to mention burritos, would be ready to eat. In 1,417 hours, a couple of members of Our Town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen – I won’t say who —  would maybe, but probably not, be tired of hearing the sound of their own voices by now. Nah, probably not.

If broken down into 24-hour periods, more than 59 days and nights of my life so far have been given over to running. Regimes have risen, and then fallen, in less time, and roughly 6,000 new banks and unaffordable apartment complexes have been built in the area.  

In those 59 days, I could have probably learned to speak Spanish, eaten two elephants, maybe grown enough hair on one side of my head for a partial comb-over, or taken the time to remove the mummified squirrel from the old golf bag in my shed. Fifty-nine days is enough time to plant, then harvest, a crop of green beans, or watch 26 generations of sea monkeys never build underwater kingdoms or learn to ride unicycles.

My 10,000 miles have worn out 16 pairs of running shoes and Love Weasel has cursed damp running shorts hanging on the towel rack in some of the most colorful use of language ever uttered by a fine lady who doesn’t otherwise cuss very much.  

My blue bandannas have faded to gray from sun and salt, and I don’t have the heart to discard the 80-something pairs of socks worn through at the heels — there’s some use in them, I just know it. 

The innards of three running radios have rusted away from sweat, but my 5-year-old Father’s Day Timex still keeps the beat without a single battery change. I have enough 5K and 10K race T-shirts to blanket the backyard and one wall of my little office is well on its way to being completely covered with numbered bibs. The tiny gold man atop my lone race trophy (first in my age group when there was no one else in my age group) runs forever on the shelf beside a skull carved from a coconut and a baseball autographed by Hank Aaron. 

Physically, I feel better than ever, but sometimes my knees don’t want to work, and sometimes these days I shuffle more than run. I’ve lost, and then grown again, several toenails. My feet are ugly and I have a scar on one shin from falling over a rock wall when I once had to stop and, uh, do my business beside the road by the light of an early, morning moon. Whoever threw away that McDonald’s bag that still had a couple of napkins in it, thank you, thank you very much.

I’ve tried every energy bar and energy drink known to man and can say, for me at least, nothing beats a bowl of grits and a bottle of water. What few chest hairs I had before I started running have all been ripped away by the Band-Aids I use to cover my nipples during long runs. Just ask any serious runner. They’ll know what I mean.

Some miles were awful, but most have been better than I could ever describe. I have attained the mythical “runner’s high” a few times. I know it’s real, those three or four miles of bliss, that perfect run.

Ten thousand miles.

I’m going to bed.

I’m exhausted.

William Carter is a retired longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com.

 

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