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Friday, May 24, 2024

The Big Three

I keep learning something new every day. Unfortunately, it seems it usually is invariably learned the hard way. The adage “with old age comes experience” should have graced me as one very experienced soul by now. So perhaps I should “know better.”

I am sure there is some deep-rooted psychological reason for the fact that, besides being just a glutton, I am a glutton for punishment. Education? Why not get your bachelor’s and master’s degrees as an adult with children, working 60 hours a week? Start a business? Why not choose something easy like magazine publishing, where the grass is always green, with totally predictable 40-hour workweeks? Writing a publisher’s letter? Why not wait until the last possible moment to incur incessant nagging about finishing it?

And what and where is this all going, once again?

I will travel to Bluefield, West Virginia, on Oct. 9 to begin what I am sure will certainly be punishment. The Appalachian Series is a running event consisting of seven days, seven states, and seven half marathons. While I am sure the camaraderie and scenic beauty of the courses will be fun and inspiring, I am not sure my legs will care. As a matter of fact, I think they will voice their displeasure loudly and frequently.

What I have heard from friends regarding this is twofold: “You’re an idiot,” which I hope pertains to the series, and, “Why?” It’s probably better to answer that sooner than later after the event as the fall foliage might not be so beautiful after day three. I have three good reasons: craft beer, potato chips, and living in close proximity to Lic’s and Baskin Robbins. The order of these three is probably fairly accurate.

I don’t buy the argument that at 54 years old I should “just accept certain things.” Actually I am doing the sissy part of the event. The hardcore folks do a marathon (26.2 miles) every day for seven days. That is a mere 183.4 miles. And to think, we all take vacation time for this “enjoyable exercise.”

The training has been hard. Learning to run on very tired legs is a very difficult thing to teach your leg muscles. As I write this a week prior, I am pleased to say “the hay is in the barn” and I can start to rest more.

I know there will be times when I need to call on some mental toughness that resides in me somewhere. But just like years ago when, late into the night, a public announcer declared, “Todd Tucker, you are an Ironman,” it will be worth every last bit of pain and soreness. (Note: keep reminding yourself of this.)

2016 Appalachian Series
Oct. 9 — Bluefield, West Virginia
Oct. 10 — Bluefield, Virginia
Oct. 11 — Bristol, Tennessee
Oct. 12 — Fletcher, North Carolina
Oct. 13 — Seneca, South Carolina
Oct. 14 — Dalton, Georgia
Oct. 15 — Guntersville, Alabama

I will be visiting a few friends along the way, as well as seven state parks. And if you soon see me doing the crab walk and limping around town? Feel free to say, “It’s your own fault, you glutton.” I can expect to hear my “friend” Michael say, “Well, what did you expect, you big dummy?”

It has certainly been a sad time for many in Evansville and in the running community. I would ask that everyone take a moment to remember Janet Gries, who tragically was struck and killed by an oncoming truck as she ran on Boonville-New Harmony Road on Oct. 20. She was a lady who would have loved doing what I wrote about above and made many friends doing it. She always was quick to volunteer to help out and a friend to many. Although she died doing what she loved, that seems to be of little consolation now. Janet certainly will be missed.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker

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