04 May 2009

Foolishness Averted

I think of myself as a smart guy, but I’m capable of some pretty foolish things. As of today I think (repeat, I *think*) I’ve averted a bit of foolishness. But nothing is ever final.

I work for a large, well-known company in the networking & telecom equipment business, which, like many others, is not a particularly healthy business these days. We beat Chrysler to the punch and went Chapter 11 back in January, and are currently awaiting expected word on restructuring that we all see as very positive. Meanwhile, we maintain normalcy; life goes on.

One aspect of normalcy means that about once a year I trundle off to a place called Belleville, Ontario, for training on the latest iteration of our stuff. Belleville is a pleasant town that reminds me of where I grew up in that it’s geographically removed from the rest of the world and has an economy that was once dominated by a technology giant. On the good side, they’ve got a reasonably priced killer sushi joint. On the bad side, it’s a lousy place to run. (I’ll post my article on my running adventures during last year’s trip sometime before I go.)

About that “removed from the rest of the world” bit. If you draw a line from Toronto to Ottawa, there’s Belleville in the middle, a bit west of Kingston if you know the turf. As we say here in New England, you can’t get there from here. In fact, you pretty much can’t get there from anywhere. It’s a two and a half hour ride from Ottawa, and direct flights to Ottawa are mighty rare. It’s two hours from Toronto’s airport, but that airport is on the wrong side of Toronto traffic. Add it up, with allowances for Boston traffic getting to Logan, early airport arrival, security, and so on, and long ago I said the heck with it, I just drive, even though it’s 450 miles. It takes about the same time, and it’s more fun – read: interesting detours.

What does all this have to do with running, you ask? Read: interesting detours.

Turns out the Ottawa Marathon is the day before I need to be in Belleville. And I’ve always wanted to run Ottawa. I pick up a rental car for a week anyway, so for the price of a cheap night’s sleep and the entry fee, why not? Just go up a day early, run the race, then it’s a short jaunt to Belleville.

I’ve been contemplating this for two weeks since I got word of my impending trip. Ottawa in spring, a whole nation’s tax dollars poured into gorgeous architecture and perfect landscaping, not to mention about six billion tulips from the grateful Dutch for harboring the queen (or was it the king?) during World War II. And I have a lot of work friends up there. And I just love the place.

It’s so tempting.

It’s so foolish.

Reality check! Earth to self! You had no right to run Boston. It was the equivalent of a publicity stunt. It was a lot of fun, but face it, had you not been pre-registered, already paid, the money gone, and zero dollars in travel costs, there would have been no rational reason to do it. It was a risk to the foot (more on that later), it was silly. But admittedly it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Ottawa? I’d have five more weeks of training in, for a total of – wow – eleven! My training pace is dropping, but it’s still a far cry from where it was. Every run is still an effort, even if a joyful effort. If I ran it, I’d inevitably become a tourist again (thanks, Chris, I’ve permanently adopted that phrase).

As an old friend used to say, “Don’t be a fool, you idiot”.

And so today I resolved that it really is a silly idea. Ottawa will be there next year, even if it costs me a few more bucks. I’ll settle for a week of unexciting runs in Belleville. I think.

Post-script: About that foot… I saw Dr. Foot Doctor for my final follow-up last week. He was tickled pink to hear I’d run Boston and insisted on photographing my medal (of course I brought my medal, what do you think?) draped over his work – my foot. He swung it in the air and exclaimed, “This was NOT supposed to happen!” Not as in, “You’ve been a bad boy!” but instead as in, “This wasn’t supposed to be possible!” And then he told me that his partner plans to write a paper on my rare injury and the unique treatment they used, and present it at a conference. Everyone has always told me that I’m a case. Now it’s certified.

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