Writer on the run (literally)


by Matthew A. Everett | 8/18/09 • This Friday morning, 11am, I’ll see what my two trainers (both named Tim) over the last year and a half have made out of me.

I know I’m thirty pounds lighter than I was back in April 2008 when I met and started training with Tim #1. In July 2008, I bought my first pair of running shoes and started running outdoors, not just on a treadmill. That was followed by purchases of running socks (who knew there were such things?), and other running gear for when the weather turned colder. Come near springtime, I got handed off to Tim #2, who likes big goals. So he floated the idea of Ragnar’s Great River Run. August 21 and 22. 24 hours. 195 miles. A relay race with a team of 12 runners. Me, Tim, and 10 others I’m only just getting to know.

single white fringe geek is the blog of matthew a. everett. in addition to being one of seven bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet, he blogs throughout the year about theater and culture.

At the first team meeting, we divvied up the running assignments. Each runner has a pre-determined set of three legs, of varying degrees of difficulty (Easy, Moderate, Hard, and Very Hard). After handing out the four most challenging assignments (over 17 miles total, and/or Hard or Very Hard designations on two or more of the three legs) to the really hardcore runners among us, we were determining who would pick up the next assignment in line. People were talking about their running speed, and it turned out I was next fastest (at a 9 minute mile – though Tim #2 is determined I’m going to magically hit 8-1/2).

So, that set of legs is the lead-off runner, #1.

I kick us off in Winona, MN, the starting point of the race. Cross the Mississippi River (on a bridge, this isn’t a triathalon), then follow the river up along the Wisconsin side. 7.5 miles (intimidatingly labeled Very Hard) after I begin, I arrive at our first exchange point in Fountain City, WI. Then I get to stretch, maybe rest a little, and do a lot of cheering from the sidelines as the other five runners in my van, and the six in the second van, all do their first legs in the race.

Round about 9:30pm (if everyone’s time holds up), we’re in Stockholm, WI, and I’m heading out on leg number 13 of the race (hopefully not a bad omen). 6.2 (Hard) miles later – after dark, I’m in Maiden Rock Park, WI.

Everybody else does their second leg. Then around 7am, we’re in Stillwater, MN for leg 25, my last of the race. Easy, so the label says. Only 3.1 miles this time, and I end up in Bayport, MN.

Runners 2 through 12 on my team get us all the way back to Minneapolis – Boom Island Park (700 NE Sibley Avenue). Our anchor leg runner should be hitting the finish line sometime around 3:30pm if all goes according to plan. So it’s taking us more like 28 or so hours.

My brother doesn’t think you should run unless something’s chasing you.

When I mentioned running five miles for the first time last summer, someone asked, “Was there a bear behind you?”

I don’t listen to music. I get outside so rarely, other than for the running, that I just like listening to nature, and the traffic.

I’ll get 16.8 miles of that in less than 24 hours this weekend. We’ll see if the charm wears off.

So think good thoughts (say a prayer, whatever good kharma you feel like throwing my way, I’ll take it) around 11am on Friday, then again at about 9:30pm, and the following morning about 7am.

And drop by Boom Island Park if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Our team name is “A Team of Crazy People” – which seems apt. Our team colors are orange and black. We’ll have decorated both our vans and ourselves accordingly. There are 230 teams participating in this thing, all leaving at different times, all hitting the finish at different intervals. It’d be nice to see some friendly faces among the throng.

4 days after this is all done, I turn 45. So all the expenses involved in doing this thing are sort of my milestone birthday present to myself. An event to mark the next step in the new me. A little older, but a little sturdier.

Then Tim #2 starts ruminating on what our next goal will be. (I smell a lot of free weights, perhaps a bicycle in my future.)

I got a trainer at first just to make sure I wasn’t going to injure myself on all these foreign machines and unfamiliar exercises. It’s turning into a sort of rebuilding, or reclamation, project. I’ll never be 25, or 30, or even 40 again. But maybe I’ll fall apart a little more slowly this way. After all, if I don’t spend the money on the trainer now, I’ll just be handing it to the doctor later. I like the gym, and the running paths, a lot more than the waiting and exam rooms.

Time to see what I’m made of.

Matthew A. Everett is a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at matthewaeverett.com.

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