A bad case of the runs

Jeff's Idol

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (well, not that far, seeing as it was in Westlake), I used to be a jogger.

The jogging thing came about out of necessity as I needed a diversion while I was trying to quit smoking for the umpteenth time in the late '90s. My wife, Patty, had been a runner for most of her life and she suggested that the running might keep my mind (not to mention lungs) occupied on something other than Marlboros while trying to break the bonds of nicotine addiction.

Just another example of why I will love Patty forever, as she's saved my hide multiple times, and this might have been the most critical.

So I figured it couldn't hurt. I mean, I had tried and failed "cold turkey" so many times I was starting to gobble. I had applied the stop-smoking "patch" so many times I think I was getting addicted to the adhesive that held the patch securely to my arm. Seriously, it was so bad I was starting to look at Crazy Glue in a new light. Crazy, huh? (Note: Just joking about the glue, gang.)

One would think that the only incentive I would need was keeping in mind that – at my dentist's urging – I had visited an oral surgeon and had a biopsy done after my dentist had discovered a white spot on the base of my mouth during a routine exam. He suggested I have it checked out post-haste.

Of course, it was pre-cancerous, but that still wasn't enough to make me quit on the spot. And that was still after the oral surgeon had lectured my ear off about the possible surgical repercussions of continued smoking if I didn't quit.

But, in my (largely meager) defense, I will say this: I truly wanted to quit, but with me, the nicotine withdrawal was awful. I couldn't concentrate at work, at home, anywhere. And all i could think about was having a couple of puffs just to feel "normal" for a few minutes again.

So I'd bargain with myself. Have a cigarette, and make the time between cigarettes longer. Heck, I was easy to reason with. Any addict will tell you that any solution other than quitting is simply a charade.

So, I started jogging begrudgingly, as it simply had never appealed to me. But then, an epiphany. I thought about one of the great heroes in my life. Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius. I figured if one as smart as he could keep trying after a litany of failed attempts at catching that goofy bird, why should I be any different? I wanted to be a Super Genius too!

So I joined the chase. For some crazy reason, I took to jogging. I found the time spent running (and coughing) proved soothing to the soul, as I could think with a clear head, and the urge to smoke was – miraculously – relegated to being a (relatively) minor annoyance.

I had my last cigarette in February of 1999, so I'm closing in on my 25th anniversary of quitting. I never had even a puff after quitting for good as the fear of resuming smoking and subsequently trying to quit again was all the incentive I'd need to stay on the straight and narrow.

Jogging got me through the roughest time of my life. Years later I stopped running as I experienced a succession of running injuries, including shin splints, a stress fracture, and the like.

The biggest problem was me, however, as I was always so eager to not lose all of the progress I had made during jogging (I eventually had competed in many races, from 5k up to about 8 or 9 marathons) that I always came back too soon and would set myself back even further. Eventually, the frustration was enough that I stopped jogging altogether.

The reason I mention all of this is because I have resumed running – for about 2 months now. I'm trying to keep things slow and steady – not my strong suit – even a quarter century later. My normal run is 6 miles, which I'm pleased with as my normal run used to be 7 miles back in the day.

I'm not foolish enough to think my times will be on a parallel with those of 25 years ago, but I want to see if I can even get in the same zip code as my former times. The biggest concession to time (translation: age) is I run every 3rd day as opposed to every 2 days.

I haven't ruled out going back to every other day eventually; but I 'll have to consult with Wile E. before I do anything rash. I'll keep the masses posted as time permits.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 15, Issue 20, Posted 8:44 AM, 11.07.2023