Some coworkers, all in their late twenties, only a couple of them smokers, have registered for an annual charity run this fall. They have asked me to run with them, and I have politely declined, agreeing to help sponsor them instead.
When asked why I was not at all interested in entering the run, I gave two reasons. 1) I dislike running. As far as Iím concerned, unless you are a Neanderthal hunting dinner or unless you under pursuit, running is a useless aerobic activity. Even with a sports bra, I find it very uncomfortable, and I donít like hurrying for any reason. As a kid, running was the part of Phys. Ed. I hated the most. When I was 15 and taking my last PE class, I tried to get our family doctor to give me a medical exemption for running. I claimed that it made my knees and ankles hurt. He looked at me over his glasses and told me ďYoung lady, there is nothing wrong with your knees and ankles. Your lungs, however, are full of s**t. I donít give exemptions for stupidity.Ē I dropped the subject and ran my laps with the rest of the class. I am old enough to choose to not do optional things I donít like.
Reason Number Two: Facts are facts. Even though I am in good shape and play racquetball a few times a month, I am a 42 year old 55 +/- pack year smoker. I honestly donít know whether I would have the stamina to complete the run. If I did (And I think I probably would), I know I would finish near the end of the pack. I am just vain enough to not want to do that.
My coworkers accepted my explanation and gave me a sponsorship form. Since then, all of them have gone into training, and the two smokers are toying with quitting and say they have cut back.
All of it brings back a victorious and somewhat embarrassing memory that some in this community may enjoy. Iíll spare everyone the details, but hereís the background sketch. Twelve years ago, Marcus and I had an assortment of colleagues over for a cookout. One of the guests was a coworker I didnít know well, didnít like, and wouldnít have invited if he hadnít been dating a friend. (Also a coworker and a smoker) Around Midnight, he and I had imbibed enough for him to become vocal and belligerent with his anti-smoking views, and for me to be impulsive, belligerent, and combative. When he told me I smoked too much to keep up with him on a 5 mile run, I told him he was full of it. He challenged me, and I accepted. As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought I might have made a rash decision; so, of course, I made another. I silently decided that I would not only run the 5 miles, the first thing I would do when I finished was smoke a cigarette. (Did I mention weíd been drinking?)
We set a date and time and he plotted a course starting and finishing at my house. Three days later, at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, he and I stretched and set out to prove each other wrong.
Now, letís look at the situation. I was 30 years old, had been smoking high-tar cigarettes for 32 +/- pack years having become a daily smoker at age 11, and hadnít engaged in any sustained aerobic activity for at least five years. I was going to run 5 miles keeping up with a physically fit former Marine? Right.
Well, I did it. By the time our house came into view my heart was hammering like jackhammer on meth. I was so out of breath that I couldnít have uttered the word ďOxygenĒ if my life had depended on it, which I was pretty sure it did. About 100 feet short of the house we slowed to a jog. When I reached the front porch and came to a stop, I immediately took my cigarettes from the table where I had left them and lit one, taking a nice long drag. Inhaling deeply was the only way my oxygen starved body would let me inhale. I donít know how, but I forced myself to hold the smoke in my lungs long enough for the jerk to notice. I really should have given it a little more thought. My heart was coursing blood through my body as fast as possible and the nicotine hit my brain like a bullet. What oxygen my blood held was instantly displaced by carbon monoxide. I turned to the jerk, exhaled as slowly as I could, smirked at him, and passed out.
So, Iíll be happy to sponsor my coworkers, but I decline to run.