Mind over miles

Well, I gave it my best.

I ran 13 miles from our Lihue home to Donkey Beach.

I ran countless laps on the 3.25-mile road that winds through the Kauai Marriott Resort.

I ran the red dirt road that runs along the oceanside of the Lihue Airport.

I ran to the Ninini Point Lighthouse.

I ran home after work.

I ran early mornings, I ran late nights.

When it was said and done. It wasn’t enough.

My daughter, some 3,000 miles away, won.

Rats.

So, how can I lose a race to someone who lives across the Pacific Ocean?

See, we had a bet for October. Whoever ran the most miles wins. Loser buys dinner, drinks. I’m the loser. Again. She crushed me in September, too, but I prevailed in August. She got me in July, barely.

Oh, I had her this month. Right up to Oct. 21, I was leading 144 miles to 142. Then, my back buggered up and the next thing, I’m hobbling down the road sideways, looking like some character from one of those zombie movies. So rather than scare people, I stopped running while I stretched and worked my back into shape. Got there, enough to resume running Friday. Too late. Jennie was 20 miles ahead and still running strong. She wins again.

Great thing about that Nike running ap I downloaded on my iPhone 4s. It records distance, time, calories burned, the course, what shoes I’m wearing, even the weather. And when a call comes in, the running mode pauses. Brilliant.

When I run, I am a slave to that phone. No more watch. The phone, protected in its OtterBox, is never out of my hand. I carry it with me in case my bosses call, or my wife, or my parents, or even my kids. I’m always happy for a reprieve, and pull off to the roadside for a conversation. The phone gives my wife peace of mind, too. She worries that some day I’ll collapse in a heap on a distance trail, no one around for miles, so it makes her feel better that I can be tracked down.

But the best use of that phone is that through it, I can see my daughter’s mileage. She, too, is logged into that Nike running ap. So we track each other’s mileage. We hear about each other’s runs.

Which isn’t always a good thing.

Jennie and my son Nick, for that matter, sometimes make me angry. They’re always texting me their great runs, Jennie about hers in Seattle, and Nick about his in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. They run faster and longer than I do. They spit out 20 miles at 8-minute pace and make it sound like they just had coffee for breakfast. They make it seem effortless, like they’re just gliding along, no sweat. I can see their smiles, feel their pride, through those electronic notes.

And my annoyance grows.

Jennie sent a message Monday about her 20-mile run. “Went through downtown, took the trail on the other side of Elliott. Super cool, right on the water.”

Last week, she sent this note: “I went out for a short cruise. 4.5 miles at 7:30s. There is something magical about running through the streets of Seattle in the pouring rain, barely able to see through the mist and fog, feet dragging through piles of leaves, scattered on the sidewalks and listening to amazing grace over and over again.”

Ah, sounds glorious.

I want to run fast again. I want it to be effortless. Problem is, I can’t give up the junk food. Or the beer, and the flab around my belly just won’t go away. No matter the miles, no matter the sweat that literally drips off after every run, my love handles grow. Must admit, I never thought I’d have love handles.

Anyway, I lost that October race. Jennie finished with just over 200 miles. I came in a distance second, 170. Rats again.

Well, there’s always November.

Sometimes, I think it’s hopeless, that I can’t beat Jennie, ever, in the mileage race. She’s too young, too fast, too strong.

But then, there are moments like Tuesday morning, when, in the final mile of a six-mile run, I felt suddenly like I could fly. It was wonderful. I sprinted. I charged. I was strong. No stopping me. Perhaps November will be mine. Yeah, I’ll win in November. Bring it on, Jennie. Bring it on. Feeling proud and confident, beaming, I got home, sat down to take off my shoes — and tried to stand. Ouch. My back, again.

It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

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