I've written here before about my aversion to running.
After all, the whole point of becoming civilized was to stop running, wasn't it? Our ancestors had to run — run away from wild beasts to survive, run toward wild beasts to get meat to eat, run away from each other when weapons are at hand, run toward each other when romance was on the mind.
Getting into a vehicle and going to a store for food — or having someone deliver food to me using their own vehicle — is a benefit of civilization. Civilized war is an oxymoron, so I won't go there.
The point is, there's essentially no good reason to do more than walk briskly to the refrigerator in a modern-day life.
I know, you're afraid I'm going to turn into one of those can't move humans in "Wall-E," that great movie. Fear not — I have dogs and grandkids to forestall that.
So why-oh-why are there going to be thousands of people running through the streets of Long Beach this Sunday? Has Godzilla surfaced somewhere near Catalina Island? Has a ship from Isla Nublar asked for permission to dock at the Port of Long Beach?
Nothing so exciting, I'm afraid. I chalk it up to the contrary nature of humankind — tell them they can't do something, or don't have to do something, and that's the very thing they set out to do.
It can't be the medal waiting at the end of the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon (or half-marathon), can it? Haven't we evolved past the need for participation trophy bling?
A quick check of my living room shelf suggests not. My dear wife Maria has succumbed to the runner shaming we all experience, and has completed multiple 5Ks (and a few 10Ks), primarily in special venues like Disneyland or for good causes like the U.S.VETS Storm The Beach 5K. She seems to particularly seek the big medals like those doled out at the Run The Course 5K put on by the Grand Prix of Long Beach Foundation. (Full disclosure. I've walked the last two events because I was told by other board members I had to, and hide the medals in a bedroom drawer.)
Maria says there's no way she wants to run even a half-marathon. But create a big enough medal for a unique course, and we'll see.
I actually do have a few friends (stop laughing) who run marathons and the like. They tell me there's a sense of accomplishment, that running produces endorphins, that training for the runs keeps them healthy and happy.
All I can say is, did you see that picture at the end of last year's marathon?
I've long ago stopped attempting to talk sense into these people. They just get this glazed look in their eyes or worse, pointedly look at my ever-so-slightly protruding belly.
This will be the 35th year for the Long Beach Marathon, so I guess there must be sufficient demand for the event. I've been told there's even a group of folks who have run in every single one of those marathons. I'm not going to make fun of that type of dedication.
I can handle one Sunday a year of detouring around the race route to get to church, especially if it's going to make thousands of people happy — and bring a few dollars to town at the same time. Just don't ask me to join them.
I am, after all, extremely civilized.