Earlier this week I spoke about the brief conversations I had with some of the other runners. But there is one conversation I didn’t mention. And that is the one with my right knee.
We start at 4:05 AM the morning of the race.
“Good morning! Wake up knee – it’s time to get ready.”
“I’m awake, just not active. You haven’t put your feet on the floor yet.”
I sat up on the bed.
“The floor is cold”
“You do seem to like to complain.”
“Well, I don’t have all my tendons and I missing part of my meniscus and it is cold”.
“Now, now. The cold does not affect your tendons and meniscus.”
“I know that. But you will soon be asking me to run in the cold morning. And you will be running barefooted, aren’t you? And I’ll be the one who will be cold and shaking.”
“OK, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll do some stretching exercises for both of my knees.”
[Sarcastic cheering heard from the left knee]
“And I will take a hot shower. Does that make you happy?”
“But you do that every day.”
“See, I take care of my knees.”
“Let’s do it!”
45 minutes later…
“Everyone ready? We’re in the car if you didn’t know. Come on my strong right knee; we need you to help with the driving.
“That was a bad joke.”
“Sorry, slip of tongue.”
“Please no body jokes” said the tongue.
“I seem to be getting an earful of complaints.”
[Groans come from the various organs]
And in just under 30 minutes the car pulls into the beach parking lot. The car is parked.
“OK. We’re here a little early. All of you have done a good job getting ready this morning and for the race. Congratulations! Let’s all take it easy. Relax. Nap if possible. We’ll be here for about an hour and then we’ll be ready for the race.”
“An hour and half is a little early?”
“Better than being a being an hour later. You, I, and the rest of us, don’t like to hurry. Relax my dear knee. Remember T-I-E. Obviously, it doesn’t mean to tie shoes since we don’t have any in the car. But rather it means, Take It Easy. Relax.”
Thirty minutes later…
The right knee whispers, “I’m so sorry for not being perfect. I bug you a lot, don’t I?”
“Who says you aren’t perfect?”
“Well, I make mistakes. Lots of them.”
“You forget the other definition of perfect. It is also defined as; ‘being complete, lacking nothing essential.’ ”
“I told you that I don’t have all my tendons and that I am missing part of my meniscus. And you don’t have a gallbladder anymore.”
“The essential parts that make one a human being, at least in my humble opinion, is his ability to learn and make choices, his conflicts and contradictions, his emotions, his desire to help humanity, or at least one human being, and perhaps most importantly, his ability to laugh, especially about himself.”
“But I am the weak knee. I can’t do as much as the other one.”
“Why do you have a need to compare yourself? Your counterpart was born stronger. And you’ve had injuries that the left knee never had. And yet you still carry me. You help me run. For over 50 years. That’s an accomplishment worth being proud of. And I am proud of you.”
“You always start a race with the left leg. Never me.”
“Do you want me to lead with you today?”
“I’ll start the race today with my right leg. Make sure the right leg crosses the start line before the left.”
“You’ll do that for me, your weaker half?”
“Sure. At least I can say I started both the day and the race with the right foot.”
“Is that a joke?”
“Only a pun. We’ll chat again before the race.”
About an hour later….
“Ok, we’re at the start Everyone ready? I promise some good chicken and chocolate milk.”
“Yeah, they have free samples. And since no one is allergic to chocolate milk, it’s still a good thing to drink.”
“Will the chicken be fried or baked or do we have to chase it after the race?”
“We’ll put it to a vote.
Quiet everyone! They are going to start National Anthem.”
“I can’t hear it, I have no ears.”
A few minutes pass.
“OK, right leg ready?”
“I’m here and ready.”
About 2.8 miles into the race…
“Hey, this is a lot easier than training!”
“It’s a good morning, the ground feels good, the temp is warming up, and you are doing good.”
“Who was that you were talking to? He was barefooted too.”
“I think he was a teacher. And definitely a very nice person.”
“I tried to communicate with his knee. But it didn’t answer me.”
“I know a lot of people, especially runners, who talk to their knees. But I don’t know any runners that actually listen to the knees. It’s probably that his knee doesn’t know how to talk or that it gave up talking because the knee’s talking was ignored.”
“That’s not good, isn’t it?”
“Thanks, I try to listen to my body.”
“And yet you still do things that we tell you not to do. They are not good for you or us, and yet you still do them.”
“Yes. And that is called stupidity. Maybe that should also be added to my definition of a perfect human being.”
“Yes, of course!”
3 ½ miles later…
“Hey boss, you like that girl!”
“Yes, she is attractive isn’t she?”
“Keep steady my knee. I want to make a good impression as I pass”
[Laughter from the knee]
Several miles later…
“All body parts! Finish line ahead. And free chocolate milk!”
[Cheers heard from all around]
“And now right leg, prepare to cross the finish line.”