Running Through the “Stupid Wall”

Ever heard the term bonehead?

Ever wondered what it really means?

A bonehead is a guy who puts a can of Diet Coke into his knapsack along with his beloved iPod Nano, and then runs home wearing the knapsack. Later, he is legitimately surprised when the tin of Diet Coke springs a leak, utterly destroying his Nano.

But wait! There’s another type of bonehead!

This second variety of bonehead will, two weeks before a marathon, in an effort to save money, attempt to chop up a pile of used bricks with a sledgehammer, hoping to re-use them as gravel in his driveway. He will do this without wearing any type of leg protection, will in fact wear nothing but running shorts. In spite of this obvious idiocy, the bonehead will still be surprised when a sharp chunk of brick flies with great velocity towards his bare shin, instantly releasing a tide of red.

At first, this turn of events will strike the bonehead as amusing: the blood splashed across the railway ties, the undignified staggering through the house towards the bathtub. But then his thoughts will take a more serious turn. Does he think of the fact that he hasn’t had a tetanus shot in years? Does he pause to consider the carpets that now need steam-cleaning? Of course not! Instead he thinks: How will this impact my marathon?  And: can I still run into work tomorrow? 

knee pain

To answer your first question, yes, I went to the doctor. She looked at the wound, cleaned it, and then peeled me off the ceiling. “The brick sliced through the layer of fat, but it didn’t hit muscle,” she said. “I’ll give you some stitches. You’re lucky, really.”

And my marathon in two weeks?

“You’ll run it, no problem.”

The doctor froze the tissue around the wound. While we waited for the freezing to set in, I decided to show her the weird bug bites on my chest.

“Those aren’t bug bites,” the doctor said. “That’s Shingles.”


“Shingles. Did you have Chicken Pox as a kid? Thought so. Have you been stressed lately? Any reason your immune system might be down?”

Well, ah, there was that little 100-mile race I ran the other day.

“You can tell it’s Shingles because of the pattern,” the doctor said. “It’s only on the one side of your body. The virus travels down nerve axons. Does it hurt? Feel itchy?”

“It itches a bit,” I said. “But it doesn’t hurt.”

“You’re lucky. With older people, it can be quite painful. It’s probably not so bad for you because you’re youngish and healthy.”

Young-ish? Did she say young-ish?

“You can relax,” she said. “It’s on its way out. You’ll be okay. Now, put your leg up here.”

It is a testament to my boneheadedness that, when I heard this news; i.e. that I had a weird strain of the herpes virus, my first thought was not, Oh my God, what can I do to get rid of this foul disease? Instead, I thought: WOW – I ran a 10 k race 3 days ago AND WON… It was the fastest race of my life, and I ran it with a case of shingles! 

I mentioned this to the doctor. I suppose I bragged a little bit. “Just imagine if I’d run it when I was totally healthy,” I gushed. “I might have finished under 38 minutes!”

The doctor snapped on her rubber gloves. “Don’t get too proud of yourself,” she said. “You’re about to get stitches because you were chopping bricks with no protection.”

Right. Point taken.

“Lie back,” said the doctor. “You may not want to watch this part.”

Thunder Running

Reasons not to run on the Bruce Trail during a thunderstorm:

  1. A tree could fall on you and you could die.
  2. You could get swallowed by the mud and die.
  3. Lightning could strike you and you could die.
  4. You could slip off the 500-foot scarp face and die.

Reasons to run on the Bruce Trail during a thunderstorm:

  1. It’s super fun.

mud running

At a certain point, when you’re soaking wet and freezing cold and lathered in mud, and the forest is as dark as night, and the rain is lashing you like a blizzard of molars, and you’ve still got 15 kilometers left to go before you get back to the car, well, at a certain point, you’ve just got to throw up your hands and laugh, don’t you?  After all, you checked the weather online.  You saw the probability of precipitation (75%) and the expected accumulation (20 – 40 mm), and you saw those clouds amassing on the horizon like an army of unwashed hoodies.  You knew what you were in for and you just laughed, didn’t you?  Well, now it’s time to laugh again.

As for all that mud, well, that can’t be a surprise either.  You do you know what happens to dirt trails when you add water to them, don’t you?  You did play in a sandbox as a child, right?  When water is added to dirt, that dirt turns into mud.  You know this.  If you add enough water, you get something worse than mud.  You get a slippery, shoe-sucking, toffee-like substance called glop. 

But it’s not all bad, is it?  There’s nothing like hypothermia and mud inhalation and blood loss and the threat of plunging into a crevasse cave fathoms deep to fire up the old endorphins, is there?  Especially when you arrive back at your car after three hours of slogging through rushing creek-beds, and stare at yourself in the rear-view mirror only to see a hollow-eyed, scabby-elbowed, tick-bitten runner; hair singed from stray lightning bolts, face besmirched with mosquito guts, and you swear you’ve never seen anything quite so idiotic!