“Chicken Shit” Reindeers In My Brain

Alex Morton

December 7, 2002

There I was at the Reindeer 5K Run… wondering, “What the fuck am I doing here?” All the reasons why I don’t do these types of runs came rushing back to me… plus many others too. Then, there was an avalanche of issues, which started roaring down the nerves fibers in my mind. I had gone to this run for a couple of reasons, but honestly, I most of all wanted to meet a woman who I would enjoy talking to and maybe have some common interests and chemistry. What I found was: no one I wanted to talk to, no one I wanted to meet, and most of all, lots of people I wanted to avoid. In general, I was feeling pretty good about myself… up until I got there. I had been taking good care of myself this holiday by making good plans, being responsible, staying in the present, and paying attention to God. But not today…

After paying $22 for the race entry fee, I proceeded to get my worthless “crap” including a race number, an unremarkable T-shirt, and a bag of advertising. I then proceeded to mill around with mostly real “anxious-type” runners who were getting set for the “big event.” Plenty of other people too… people who had various types of costumes portraying the usual holiday season icons. I didn’t see a single woman who I could potentially experience instant nirvana with when we locked eyes (a la movie, “Solaris”.) I needed to move on to my alternative reasons for being there: to hear the jingle bells jingle as all the runners ran down the street. That was pretty cool the last time I did this run in 1994. Well, I was disappointed here too! No jingle bells given out this year! I’d have to rely on my third reason: To try out my new Apple IPOD MP3 player, which I had bought for my long 100-mile runs. At least it got through about 3 songs by the Pixies before it froze up (it was about 38 degrees so maybe the cold did get to it! I soon realizied that this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around!

I started my run a little too fast, but was able to slow down to a 9:50 1st mile. I had put myself up near the front rather than at my traditional spot, the absolute back because it was a total freaking menagerie back there. Plenty of dogs on leashes going every which ways and small babies put in jogging strollers (perhaps to give them the experience of frost bite at an early age?) Now, I like kids and dogs, but it was a little wild at the back if you didn’t happen to have one or both.

I messed with my IPOD for a while which gave me a better 11:50 2nd mile. I then looked at a few well-crafted butts, however none of these girls had any, outstanding grandfather issues they wanted to solve with me.Avoiding those “hot pants”, I moved into mile 3. My confidence received numerous boosts as many people assured me that I “could do it!” and there was “not much further to go!” Whew! Was I ever glad to hear that! Music to my ears!… I soared! I was reassured by knowing the water from the aid stop at the 1.5-mile mark would help carry me in! All was not lost: I was able to manipulate my time (a la Ray Krolewicz) and came in at 33:33. This was the most fun all day!

Still hoping to meet that mythical, mystical woman I had been planning on seeing, I joined in the post-party bash for a KK doughnut. After another quick look around, I had had enough and left, despite the offers of “All the beer you can drink!” Now, THAT was really hard to walk away from. I got to my truck and thought for about two seconds about going back to see if “the woman” was there, but had a blast of insight, cranked up the truck, put in Belle and Sebastian, dialed to track 6, “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” and made my way back to the safety of my home. Anyway, she would have probably turned out to be a Republican.

Now, was that race “real”? What is “real” in our current world? I realize I am asking that of myself on a constant basis as I move through today’s society. The funky little home environment I grew up in didn’t provide me with many of those basic building blocks for my foundation, so I’m on a constant repair mission to assess the “cracks” and “holes” in my structure. This race certainly wasn’t “real”! While I had discovered that about 9 years ago, today I still had to go down that road again to rediscover it.

I realize the benefits of ultra runs allow me not to have to be exposed to much of what I found so repulsive in this race. Most of the “edgy, anxious runners” don’t show up for the longer events. I see some of my snobbery coming out when I use the phrase, “chicken shit” in the title. I sometimes call these short runs, “Chicken Shit 5k/10K runs” to get the edgy folks a little more edgier. As for race fees, I usually don’t mind paying most entry fees for ultra events, since I’m usually not being gouged. Having been a race director I have a sense of what things cost. Now, I didn’t mind paying the money for the run today, as the profits went to a children’s hospital, but the commercialism and mismanagement designed to appeal to the mass consumers did bother me. I guess these runs do help provide me with “anti-models” for helping me guide how I put on my runs. I remember having this thought (that I’m not supposed to have) as I took in the whole scene: No wonder so many other people in other countries don’t respect Americans.

Writing is therapeutic for managing my holiday turmoil as Christmas only adds another layer of chaos for me. Holidays are a time for me to take action.For the most part I have done a good job with the exception of today! I don’t subscribe to the “guilt”-based exchanging of gifts …especially with people who don’t need them. I still give money to an organization that gets it to those who do need “stuff.” I try really hard to avoid the trillion-dollar commercial plan to have people “ get more stuff.” I have been successful in avoiding all holiday parties… since I don’t like going to them. This little diatribe may evolve into my Christmas Card! This year I’m going to India with hopes of avoiding the unfolding of the insanity which is like an impending holiday hurricane. Plus, imagine spending time where you want to be, doing what you want to do, and making more time for God. Not a bad plan!