I am Super Dad. This is the view that Super Dad took in whilst squeezing in an hour-long trail run before one of his son’s lacrosse games yesterday afternoon. Can’t you hear the angels singing in the background? The welcome scent of the pungent, local flora approaching springtime bloom? Crystal mental clarity, all the senses running on all cylinders? One with nature? I am Super Dad.
A more realistic depiction of what squeezing training sessions into a busy schedule actually looks like would be a photo of a car trunk in which someone or something appears to be living. Mismatched socks, the heels rubbed thin or missing in at least one. A beach towel wide and long enough to give me cover for a tasteful change into shorts to run in. Never mind if it’s a towel stretching Lightning McQueen’s toothy grin across my behind. While standing in the parking lot, hopping on one leg, trying desperately to avoid attracting unwanted attention from other parents or children nearby. “Mommy, what is that man doing??” “Tommy, don’t look at him, DON’T LOOK AT HIM!” And never mind if I grabbed the wrong towel from the linen closet at home, in a rush. I can make do with a bath towel if need be. It just means that I’ll need to clutch the corners at my hip with a vice grip, barely avoiding violating at least one local ordinance regarding public indecency. And I’m not above using one of the dog’s pink, purple, or lime towels for this gaudy exercise in modesty, no matter how much dog hair and dog slobber resides on the towel.
I’ve fallen in love with a new kind of shoe, too, and I think I’ve finally managed to find the perfect pair. That also means that I wear the shoes every day, and for every run. I’m told I should rotate shoes as a farmer rotate crops. I refuse to let these shoes air out, to lie fallow. The scent of long-expired roadkill emanating from the soles is a small price to pay for comfort. My family doesn’t have any positives to associate with this particular negative since they don’t run in these fantastic shoes. They associate the fantastic shoes only with a not-so-fantastic scent. Collateral damage. Super Dad has to get his run in, wherever and whenever he can.
I know I’m pushing my luck with that last Super Dad reference, now that I’ve planted in your mind the image of the man in the parking lot clutching the Lightning McQueen towel at his waist and hopping around madly, the full length of his porcelain-white thigh flashing the nice families and perhaps scarring the younger children for life.
I have my first triathlon in about ten years coming up, and my body is ten years older than it was then. So I have to squeeze in these training sessions wherever and whenever I can. Hence the hopping and flashing yesterday afternoon.
I had envisioned an hour-long romp in the rolling trails I spied on a crest overlooking my son Max’s lacrosse field in Terra Linda. I had just enough time to dole myself out some meaningful punishment up there, I calculated. I found a challenging loop marked off in one of the half-dozen running or hiking or biking apps cluttering one of my iPhone folders. I’d managed to change into my running gear without incident. Then I looked down now and saw that I’d hopped my way into a pair of bright, royal blue shorts. The most ridiculous pair I own, handed to me with a smirk by my brother-in-law a year ago who used to work at Reebok. I am reminded why this particular pair was given to him as a “sample.” Because no one in their right mind would buy and wear these shorts in public. But at this point, I’m in too deep and my remaining window until game time is running out.
So I run.
Easy at first, stumbling on a curb or two as I try to navigate my way to the trail head marked on the iPhone app with a green circle. Of course it’s a bad idea to run while burying your face in your iPhone, trying to focus on the triangle GPS tells the app is where you are and trying to figure out if your triangle is getting closer or farther away from where the trail head begins. I somehow find my way to the trail head, feeling pretty damn good about myself, despite the shorts.
Within 90 seconds, however, my legs are cement, my back is hunched over, and my loud breathing is all I can hear. It’s a little bit desolate up here, so the usual thought about keeling over from a massive coronary on the trail darts into my mind. But I resolve not to stop running (never mind that this pace probably doesn’t qualify as “running.”) Thinking on my feet (literally), I start zig-zagging up the ridiculously steep trail. Somehow this allows my heart and lungs to keep working rather reduce me to a cursing full stop. The trail is narrow, so my zigs are probably only two or three steps to the right before I zag the same number the other direction. This must look ridiculous, but fortunately I’m all alone up here.
Except for the friendly Park Ranger woman marching down from just above me on the trail. I say “friendly” because she had a big smile on her face as we made eye contact. I say “eye contact” because the drool and inaudible “hellpooffft” I managed in response to her “hello” fell far short of any other kind of normal human interaction. And now I’m beginning to think that her smile wasn’t really a sign of being friendly, but instead amusement at seeing this guy shuffling serpentine up the hill, with ridiculous bright blue shorts on. But I’m in too deep, and can’t get caught up in that kind of thinking. I have to get this in wherever and whenever I can.
My imagined hour-long jaunt through these magical hills was cut short. I couldn’t bear the taste of all that acid in my mouth any longer, and I was concerned that I’d be sore for a week if I kept following the seductive bends of this particular trail system. So I cut it short, peg-legging my way back down the steep trail on quivering quads, and I made it back to the field in time for the game.
I mean, just in time for the game. As in, the referee’s whistle blew before I expected, robbing me of the 60 seconds I needed to change back into different, more appropriate shorts. Super Dad does not miss a second of his kids’ games, however. And a touch of self-consciousness, brought on by the game’s other spectators pointing and giggling at the sweaty guy in the royal blue shorts? Collateral damage. I have to get it wherever and whenever I can.
Thanks for reading.