Wouldn’t It Be Nice…?

Wouldn’t it be nice if doing the smart thing, or the right thing, or the adult thing was also just sometimes the fun thing, the happy thing, the easy thing to do?

For the second time in as many weeks, I’ve had to cancel my race weekend plans. I was supposed to drive up to Santa Rosa wine country to run their marathon, complete with a complimentary “Runner’s Red” bottle of wine. But my toe just won’t go.

I broke down today and tried running to see where I was in the recovery/recuperation cycle. This morning I was 70% in a “this is do-able” flow, but there were plenty of percentages in the “well, this isn’t such a great idea” and sadly double digits in the category “oh, hell-no, this is a terrible idea!” But to be honest, those aren’t that far off of the percentages of my puttering round my kitchen.

Without a clear cut “this is good” or “this is bad” result, I was left with the unenviable “it is neither better nor worse for wear.” I was leaning towards going then… but what if I made it worse? I’m not a young man anymore. I don’t heal the way I used to, I don’t bounce back the way I used to. At the same time, maybe this is as good as I would get – there have been nagging, lingering, niggling pains and aches and tweaks that just don’t ever go away anymore. I learned to live with them. Maybe this is the latest or even the final one. Maybe this is the end.

I had ordered a toe splint thing from Amazon (because despite their awfulness, they were significantly cheaper than Target or any local convenience store). They arrived this afternoon and I decided before making the final call to cancel my hotel room and notify the race director I wasn’t coming that I should run one more test. I velcro’d the splint and went for a run.

The percentages were way better – it felt like a band aid on a broken blister which I know from experience is no fun but doable for a marathon. I was at maybe 90% doable vibes, with only some “hmmmm” and maybe 1% of the “hell-no, we shouldn’t go” curses. But one percent is STILL one percent.

I dropped a line to my Mom and brother laying out the rationalization – the brain says no, the head and heart say yes. But while the endorphins and the psychological components make a VERY persuasive argument, the physical worries of doing more damage over the repetitive motion of 26.2 miles couldn’t be ignored. I know mentally I really needed to run… but I also need to be able to run again. Fuck this up and I could be done with running forever. As stupid as it was to clock my toe on my dresser or the ottoman or whatever it was that may or may not have broken the pinky toe and made it go “whee, whee, whee” all the way home, it was, and still is, an injury. Was I pushing too quickly to get back to the race? Was I not doing what we all are doing in this pandemic, wishing it were over rather than actually waiting for it to be over?

We are all impatient and frustrated and angry. A lot of us (but sadly not enough of us) have done and continue to do what we need to do – mask up, vaccinate, avoid crowds, wash our hands, be respectful and mindful of personal spaces and personal needs and putting the well being of others who CANNOT do some of these things not because of “choice” but because of legitimate allergies/conditions/science. And it’s annoying that we have to keep doing this when so many have declared they don’t have to – so many have declared it viciously, carelessly, selfishly, and mortifyingly (literally MORTI-fying as in “killingly”). We keep doing the right thing and yet our sacrifices seem in vain. It’s the temptation to chuck it all and damn the consequences and just go do what we want.

But there are always consequences. It may not always be apparent or immediate. But there are ALWAYS consequences.

Even something as stupid and silly as my marathon weekend has consequences. Will my not going prove to be the wrong decision? I’m depressed as it is… will skipping this race sned me ever deeper into an abyss? Am I letting fear dictate my decisions, a fear of “what if…?” instead of “what is?”

Perhaps the biggest frustration in trying to make the smart, right, adult decision is that I could just as easily be talking myself into thinking it’s the smart, right, and adult decision all while making the wrong choice.

The only truth I know right now is that I’m not going to Santa Rosa, CA. And that makes me sad.

I can only hope that it is the right decision in the long run.


The map of where I might have been: