The Running of the Artists

September 12, 2011


So, I ran my first 10k race yesterday.  Yes, I know – “Ooh, a whole 10 kilometers?  Well, you just rest those rocket launchers there, Mr. Prefontaine, while I dial the Guinness people for you.”  But it was the first one I’ve done, and only the second race I’ve ever been in.  So it was a pretty great thing to do, but – and here’s where we start to delve in to my personal oddity – also a big thing to tell people about.

I’ve exercised basically my entire adult life.  I’m one of those tedious depressive types, and working out clears the clouds a little; the same basic principle as walking a dog.  During my early adulthood, though, being amidst a lot of artsy/bohemian types, exercising was like this weirdly shameful thing.  I would steal away in the middle of the afternoon and work out.  And if someone asked where I’d been?  I’d make something up.  “Uh, errands.  Heroin.  Shooting heroin while I did some errands.”

"Those? Um, they're part of an art installation. I call it 'Heavy Circles and Bars #4'"

“Oh, really?  So what’s in the duffel bag, and why does it smell like sweat?”

“This duffel bag?  It’s, ah, spray paint.  It’s for a graffiti art thing I’m working on.  The sweat is to represent the toil of the, you know, exploited, er, working class.  It probably won’t be done for a long time, so don’t ask about it again.”

And this mentality of “my type doesn’t exercise, so keep it on the DL” kind of imprinted on me in this ridiculous way – exercise became something I didn’t really talk about, regardless of context.  I’d slink off and exercise, always alone.  Even writing about it has this goofy “coming out” feel to it (“I can’t hide it any longer.  The truth, I mean.  The fact is, well… I … I… exercise.  No, please, it’s not a phase I’m going through.  I’ve always known I felt this way.  No, I’m not “experimenting,” I was born this way, I suppose.  Look, I love it all, okay?!  The weights!  The running!  There was even a period where I was rock climbing! That’s your little bohemian!  That’s your little bohemian!!” *weeps angrily*)

Then, in the last year or so, it dawned on me that I was being… oh, shoot, what’s the word… “stupid.”  It was just kind of a default setting at this point, but I figured it was time to break out of that a little.  There was this relay-race up in the mountains I signed up for last fall, and did that.  It was a lot of fun, but there was one leg of the relay that was incredibly steep, and I knew I couldn’t do it, and sitting there awkwardly, waiting for someone else to sigh and say, wearily, “Fine, I’ll do it” drove me crazy; that feeling of “I just can’t.”  So this summer I ran hills all summer with the express purpose of doing that race again and declaring that I’ll take the 5th leg of the race if it’s all the same to you!  And then I’d rip my shirt open to reveal my Superman uniform under my street clothes.  Then, ideally, the wind would blow through my hair.

I even organized my own team, letting each new member know that, in case they were concerned, they needn’t worry about that dreaded 5th leg because I’ll handle that one! (Shirt rips; wind blows).

And then, a couple weeks before the race, it was cancelled! (wind dies down; Byron quietly picks up strewn buttons from ripped shirt)

After a little gnashing of teeth, I found another race, which was not a monumental task – the area I live in is an outdoor mecca, and you could, conceivably, have a conversation that goes,

“Hey, you want to run a 10k this weekend?”

Come on, everyone! Let's try and out run that other spontaneous 10k that started over there!

“This weekend?  Oh, I’m out of town.  What about the half marathon next weekend?”

“No, I’m working.  The next weekend there’s the 10k or the half-marathon, what about one of those?”

“Okay, but probably just the 10k. I’m doing the marathon the weekend after that.”

“I thought the marathon was in the Spring.”

“That’s the other one. You know what?  Let’s just do a 10k right now!  Come on everybody!  We’re running a 10k!”  (everyone cheers and starts running)

So I ran the race, in public, and even ran it with a friend (but I told him I was just running it as a performance art statement on the futility of capitalism amidst corporate oligarchy, just to be on the safe side).

Me, at the finish line. You'll have to hum the "Chariots of Fire" theme music yourself. Or the "Rocky" theme will do nicely, as well.

Everything turned out great, it was a lot of fun.  One guy tried to run it as a 9/11 memorial thing, which was a better thought than practice (especially the decision to dress up as Captain America, which basically entailed running in a ski mask).  I think I did pretty well, despite one near wrong turn.  I don’t know my ranking, because they haven’t posted them yet; we could’ve found out right afterward, but my friend – we discovered a half-mile in to the race – left the keys to his car (which was at the finish line) in my car (which was at the starting line), so our priorities shifted with impressive speed from crossing the finish line to finding a ride.  So as soon as the results are posted, I’ll be sure to lie wildly about how I did.  Regardless, though, I’ll just check that 10k right off the list, iron my superman costume, and suffer the slings and arrows of disgusted bohemians.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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21 Comments on “The Running of the Artists”

  1. H.E. ELLIS Says:

    I have so much respect for people who stick to things like that. My ADHD would have me off the route and chasing squirrels inside of five minut…hey! a squirrel!


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      There was a big staircase and hill toward the end that had me thinking, “Hm, but there’s a nice flat trail over to the right, there…”

      That would be a pretty great race – a 10k for people with short attention span. “The winner, with a time of 4 days, 3 hours – hey, come back!”


  2. brainrants Says:

    I used to run a lot when I was younger. Now I just feel like a bag of hammers when I do. I start with a nice, slow pace and then back off from there.


  3. k8edid Says:

    I get tired just driving 10K. sigh. Congrats on the race, wherever you placed, and I’m proud you could “talk” about it.


  4. mydatingprescription Says:

    I’m glad you felt safe enough to come out to us, your readers. We still love you.


  5. gojulesgo Says:

    LOL Way to go! That’s awesome, and hurrah for coming out! I think you have to add you in the Superman uniform to your blog banner. Except, make the S a B for Byronic Man. Even if you don’t, that’s what I’ll see from now on. I hope that’s okay with you. …You started it.


  6. lexy3587 Says:

    Congrats on your race – Hopefully next year, you can enter the race with the dreaded 5th leg, shirt ripped and wind blownig and all 🙂
    I find the opposite to you, though – i don’t like to run,and I don’t really like gym-type activities. But apparently, I am the odd duck in my social circles. I regularly have conversations with people that go along the lines of,
    “Well, you run, of course… we should run together”
    “um… well, actually, I don’t… run.”
    “I mean, i don’t run… with people… who might not be able to… keep… up… with my awesomeness… no offense, you’re just not… ninja enough… for my… running skillz. also, i only run at 3am, and you aren’t a morning person…?”


  7. natasiarose Says:

    Fabricated heroin errands? Angry weeping? If I was straight, you would be my kind of man.


  8. The Good Greatsby Says:

    I was humming the Rocky theme song during this entire post, even before you encouraged it at the end.


  9. madtante Says:


    I promise, I did not start posting (and scheduling posts) because I read this first. I just found this after scheduling 2 weeks (or more) of redux posts about fitness!

    I was not exactly “a type” but people always say, “What do you do? OOOOH. I can see that” when the answer is “graphic artist.” Pfft.

    Like you, I’ve used exercise my whole life for stress-control. I *love* to exercise. Growing up on a working ranch meant 4 hours of manual labor a day. I didn’t exercise then but by college, I took up ST (old-school girlie endurance-style) and running (exaggeration meaning “hopped along for a few miles”). In my mid-20s, I really got into it and did about 90 minutes a day (cardio/ ST) and if you think about it…that’s way less than 4 hours! I haven’t been that mobile for over a year and it shows, shall we say. Hence, my return to thinking about fitness. It’s a high.


  10. midsummerdreamsandwintertales Says:

    I live in the middle of nowhere which means that there are no conveniently placed placed Starbucks to run into for the sometimes necessary bathroom break. I’ve had to resort to ducking behind trees. I’m afraid to go to far into the woods because there could be bears attracted to the smell of my pee, right? But that means I risk getting discovered by neighbours ambling about with their dogs. There really is no good way to explain it.


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      Are bears drawn by the smell of urine? I may have to re-think my wilderness peeing plans. Or maybe they just hate people urinating in their woods. “What the hell??!! I just cleaned over there! Raawwwrr!!!”


  11. pithypants Says:

    Sorry – it took two readings to complete this because when I neared the end, a flash mob converged on me to spontaneously start a race. Hilarious!


  12. cassiebehle Says:

    I’m an avid runner too, and you’re right – there’s always constant flack from friends. “Your running again tonight? But you ran yesterday…God, just grab a bag of Cheetos, put on some baggy sweats, get on that couch and watch that King of Queens marathon like the rest of us, ya overachiever.” “But…” “What, that’s not enough of a marathon for you???” Cue me running away from them in fear.


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      I think people perceive some sort of judgment. “I’m going running. What are you going to do? Get fat? Be pathetic?” That or, in the case of the people I hung with, what they would hear would be something like, “I’m becoming a jock and when I get back from running I intend to snap you with a wet towel, pansy. See ya!”


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