Back on the Proverbial Horse

by stephancox

So yesterday, ten days after my wipeout, I completed an 18-mile run as part of my marathon training, and I felt… pretty good. The good news is, my shoulder and my shin held up fine. In fact, I dare say my shoulder felt better after the run, which leads me to think that maybe if I hadn’t done the run and instead just babied it, it would have frozen up, and then I’d be one of those old guys with frozen shoulder, which is a thing—look it up. The bad news is, and it’s not really bad news, doing the longest run of your life after not running for ten days is no fun. Your body is simply not ready for that kind of sudden punishment. During my downtime, I did the stationary bike and the elliptical, and I walked a ton, but none of it was an adequate substitute for running, and my legs and joints and lungs and metabolism were happy to let me know about it.

Because I was nervous about having not run for a while and was also concerned that my shoulder would be a problem, before the run, I popped four Alieve.  That’s right, four. And also, don’t do that. Lori freaked out a little when I told her. She went and got the bottle and showed me where it explicitly said not to take more than three in any 24-hour period. I assured her that my mom’s orthopedic surgeon said that he doesn’t have a problem with taking lots of Alieve; in fact, he thinks they should put it in toothpaste. I thought about this as I spent the evening clutching my stomach and groaning in pain. Lori, to her credit, did not say “I told you so,” but simply poured out shots of milk of magnesia. And also, can I mention again that I have the world’s greatest running buddy? Lori was once again there every three miles during the run, doling out Gatorade, water and gel packs. What the hell am I going to do on race day without her?

As I predicted in my last post, I was unable to do the mud run I signed up for. It sucks, too, because I was hoping to complete at least one of the sixteen items on my STSM list. Also, I’m told the mud courses feature military-style obstacles, and I was looking forward to seeing if they also had an R. Lee Ermey-type drill sergeant who chases you through it, screaming insults about steers and queers and the temperature of Eskimo hoo-hahs. Now I guess I’ll never know. (Actually, I’m looking to sign up for the next one in the tri-State area. If anyone has a lead, let me know.)

Also, I’m only three weeks away from my improv class performance, which is set to happen at a date, place, and time I will not be disclosing. Look, this one is tough. Lori and I have both discussed this, and improv, for whatever reason, takes us WAY outside our comfort zones. Perhaps it’s because we both like to have a little bit of time to process our funny. As I’m sitting here writing this out for you, I’m taking breaths and breaks in between, considering how best to convey precisely what I’m thinking. It works out better for me this way. But in improv, you have to make a choice (no matter how ill conceived), you have to stick with that choice for at least a 90 second scene (which, if you count it out to yourself, you will realize is an eternity) and you have to make that choice RIGHT F*CKING NOW. Say a scene partner grabs you and says she needs you to run to the store and get three Milky Ways, some Skittles, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby and a Butterfinger right this second. As her scene partner, you realize, okay, she’s supposed to be your wife, she’s pregnant, she’s having cravings, and it’s probably the middle of the night. A million thoughts go through your head about how to respond, but all that comes out is: “Mmmmmlllaaaaaah.” So now you’re her retarded husband. But that won’t fly, because you’re supposed to play “at the top of your intelligence” as everyone in improv is fond of saying, and surely no one would intelligently choose to play a retarded husband because that makes no sense, but you choose it anyway and then OH MY GOD does the instructor rake you over the coals and you feel like a total asshole and why did you sign up to take this class in the first place when you could be at home reading a nice book or checking out the latest art shows in Chelsea or taking a stroll through Central Park, but NO, you just had to go and start some blog about doing things that scare you and now you’re committed to finishing the class and doing the performance, which requires you to get up in front of actual people who have paid actual money, and now you have to remember to play at the top of your intelligence but not ask any questions, only make statements, and don’t start any arguments because they’re boring, but always agree with your scene partner and don’t forget to make your scene partner look good and also establish your environment and your who/where/what in the first three lines and make sure you yes-and in every scene and meanwhile, don’t get caught up in your head and think too much and JESUS H. CHRIST WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?

So that’s how improv is going.

It’ll all be over soon, both the improv and the marathon. And then it’s on to the next challenge. But you know what? It’s all good. Really. As a 43-year old guy*, I’m happy to be still learning and still doing and still growing. The unexamined life, and all that. And, of course, this philosophy is all well and good until I stare out of the open, yawning door of a plane some 10,000 feet up, with a parachute strapped to my back and urine running slowly down my pantleg.

*I’m a guy. I will always be a guy. I was an infant until one year, a toddler for a couple after that, and then I was a boy. I was a kid for a while, then I graduated to guy around 17 or 18, and I don’t think that status is going to change. Yes, technically, I’m a man. Like, if I were arrested, for whatever reason, the headlines would say “Manhattan Man Charged in…” blah blah blah, but otherwise, I’m a guy. I think this is the same for most of my male friends. I don’t think Gen X (or any subsequent generation) has any “men,” save for the ones fighting overseas. Those guys are men. The rest of us are guys.

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