Clubs   Places   Groups   Races   Results   Writing   Message Board   Search 

Junque Miles:

By Mark Roberts

The Romance of Running

The storm lashed the trees and whipped the surface of the lake into a frenzy as Jessica struggled valiantly against the wind and rain, fighting to push ever forward even as the last ounce of energy drained from her aching body, signaling the imminent end of her battle and its inevitable agonizing aftermath of humiliation and defeat.

"Damn you cruel hands of fate" she screamed in a fury, "I will never surrender to you! Never! By all the gods I will fight you and no power you can throw at me will keep me from my goal!" She had missed her 800 meter interval time by 4 seconds. Not bad considering the weather conditions and the fact that the soccer team was practicing in the field in the center of the track, necessitating frequent swerves and jumps to avoid errant soccer balls. "At least it isn't LaCrosse season" she mused, thinking back to an incident the previous year that had left her unconscious for half an hour and which, to this very day, made her occasionally believe that everyone was speaking to her in Chinese.

Suddenly, she caught her breath as her gaze fell upon a distant figure entering at the far end of the track. She knew that silhouette only too well. It was none other than Arugula Walthram Teletype III, the assistant cross-country coach of nearby Burnt Wattling University, an man whose mere presence at a sporting event could produce lactic acid buildup in a turnip! (How shocked she would be to learn that, despite the manly image that he worked so hard to maintain and unbeknownst to the running community at large, he was a closet cross-trainer!)

He could be there for only one reason: He must know of her passionate, yet unrequited love for his star runner Jake LaPlante, whose dazzling good looks and lightning fast 400 meter time left spike marks of agony on the starting blocks of her soul. Jessica could feel her heart being torn in two at the very thought of Jake, although it might possibly have just been the effect of the 800 meter intervals she had been running. Yet how much worse her torment might have been had she known the scene in which Jake was playing a part at that very moment on the other side of town...

As Bianca moved closer to Jake, her breath trembling with anticipation, the sheer, black negligee clung to her body the way an insurance salesman clings to a drunken conventioneer at a Holiday Inn bar, only with much less coverage than any reputable underwriter would recommend these days, what with inflation being the way it is and the increasing cost of college tuitions. "Oh Jake" she breathed, "I've waited so long for this moment. Take me in your arms! Make me feel the passion for which I have yearned all these years!" "What?" exclaimed Jake, "Now? Here? In the Department of Motor Vehicles?" "DING!" went the bell at the end of the counter, "Number 140 to counter B" announced the P.A. system. "We must wait, my darling" he whispered, "I have to re-register my Yugo now."

Jessica ducked behind the bleachers. She had to get away before Arugula Walthram Teletype III noticed her presence. Quickly she made her way to the edge of the field and dashed toward the alleyway behind the gym. It was long, dark and foreboding, with many places for potential villains to hide and no possible side passages through which she might make an escape on the event of trouble, but it was the only avenue she had to evade the nebulously-threatening Arugula Walthram Teletype III while simultaneously facilitating an exciting twist in the plot.

She crept forward as quietly as she could, remembering that the alley was close to the starting line of the local marathon and thinking that this explained why there were no weeds growing anywhere near the walls. Suddenly a shadow appeared at the end of the passage. A huge figure loomed before her, far to large to be Arugula Walthram Teletype III. His dark outline was framed against the dim light at the end of the alley. He moved toward her, a towering hulk who all but blocked out the sky above as he neared. Jessica shrank back, speechless and terrified. With horror she realized that he was reaching out toward her. No - he was holding something out toward her. In his hand he was grasping...a sheaf of papers!

"Why haven't you signed up for my race yet?" he demanded, "Have you heard about the spread of food I've got this year? It's gonna be huge! The t-shirts are awesome! And we're gonna have Steve Prefontaine running! Really! We found a sample of his hair and we're having him cloned! He'll be ready by October, I swear!"

She screamed and fled down a nearby adjoining passageway that this chronicler conveniently overlooked while previously describing the alley as having no side exits.

Jessica ran all the way back to her apartment, a distance of 5.3 miles, at a good threshold pace. She arrived to find her sister waiting at the door, her face streaked with tears. "What is it Eileen?" she asked, "What's wrong?" "It's Jason" she sobbed, "I'm afraid his habit is just getting completely out of control! I don't think I can take it any more!" "What's he doing now?" asked Jessica, trying her hardest to appear concerned while trying to work out in her head how many calories she'd burned on the wey back.

"First it was 800 meter repeats at Interval Pace. Then 400 meter repeats at Repetition Pace. Then alternating 1200 meter and mile repeats at Threshold Pace. This went on for weeks!" she moaned. "Then" she added as a look of complete horror came over her face, "he started mixing them!" She shuddered for a moment and continued, "Two-mile Threshold runs with 600 meter Repetion Pace reps sandwiched in between. Combination Interval/Repetition workouts! This beastly addiction is terrifying me!" she whimpered. Jessica nodded her head in agreement. "Sounds like he's been hitting the Jack Daniels pretty hard" she murmered.

Just then the phone rang, barely audible over the cacophany of pun-induced groans. "I'd better get that" said Jessica, "It might be..." She almost dared not think of the possibilities. Much better to take her mind of her troubles by calculating her VO2 MAX.

"Alone at last" purred Bianca as she wrapped herself around Jake in the privacy of her apartment. "Yes" he said, "It's been too long." "We can start making plans" she cooed seductively, "Plans for the future. Our future." "Well, I'm already signed up for a 5k every October for the next 10 years" said Jake. "Come to think of it" he added as a puzzled look came across his face, a face that had seen more than its share of puzzled looks for the very good reason that its owner had many more occasions to be puzzled than the average person, "I think I'm entered several times just for this year." "Oh Jake" she gasped, "My heart is pounding in anticipation! I'd say it's at least 85% of maximum right now!" She glanced at the heart rate monitor on her wrist. "Don't worry darling" Jake said soothingly, "there's something I want to ask you" he hesitated, "something I've never asked any girl before." "What? What is it?" She asked, her voice trembling.

"Will you get anaerobic with me?"

Copyright © 2002 Mark Roberts

Back to page top

  Next article: My Own Medicine.

  Previous article: Boston, the Year of the Bus.

  Back to Junque Miles Index.

  Back to Rochester Running Page home.

Rochester Running Page Home

Page design copyright ©2014 Mark Roberts