Monday, May 07, 2001

Big 5-1-2 carried this Everyman




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        If the body were built to run 26 miles, we wouldn't need cabs. Still, I wouldn't mind running a marathon. But it just looks so, you know, hard. I wanted to be in the Flying Pig, though. I just needed a partner.

        I dialed up the Pig publicists and asked them to draw me a name. Unlike the big races, the Flying Pig is an Everyman marathon. What's more Everyman than picking a partner at random?

        They picked Dale Tesmond of Hyde Park. Bib Number 512. The Big 5-1-2. For Dale, it was like winning the lottery, only without the money.

        We made a beautiful team. We had a plan. Dale ran. I ate doughnuts. It was good.

        At 7:32 a.m. Sunday, Dale chugged past at Mile 5 and offered me a “no-problem” shrug. Or maybe it was an “I must be nuts” wave. I couldn't tell. I was wiping jelly off my shirt.

Perfect partner

        I knew Dale was the perfect partner when he told me he'd run triathlons and climbed Mt. Rainier. Plus, he has two sons, 9 and 7. Talk about a workout. We agreed if he ran the 26 miles and 385 yards, I would wrist-curl little chocolate doughnuts. While Dale jogged, I'd do the heavy lifting.

        Dale trained on the hills around Ault Park. He ran 18 miles, but never further. Also, he had two herniated discs and is 46. That was not a plus for our team.

        On the other hand, Dale said, “Running is unbelievably boring. Running long distances is unbelievably boring and and hard on your body.” I liked his attitude.

        As the sun rose over Hyde Park Square, the runners were invigorated by the throngs cheering them on. Me, I thought, “I could really use a Big Gulp.”

        A few miles back, as my partner made the turn from Victory Parkway to East McMillan, I ducked into a Chevron station for a Cheese danish and an Hawaiian Punch. But now I was running low. I stopped to carbo-load a Mountain Dew.

        At Mile 15, the long, slow slog up Eastern Avenue, they thoughtfully blasted the Village People at a water stop. Dale instinctively kicked it up a notch. The song was “YMCA.” Who wouldn't sprint from that?

        “You go, 5-1-2!” I yelled.

Still strong

        On Saturday, a little kid slid into Dale's left knee at softball practice, a mishap that could have ruined our chances. Dale was Captain Ahab Saturday night, but rallied Sunday. “I'm here for you, man!” I yelled as he glided past. As soon as I finish this Moon Pie.

        By Mile 20, runners walked, sideways. Not my partner. The Big 5-1-2 was a Mustang on a four-day drive. He stopped only for water. I felt good about our chances. Also, a little weak.

        At Mile 24, I whipped into an AmeriStop to pound a Fudgsicle and a box of Milk Duds. Ready for the home stretch.

        We crossed the finish line in about 4 hours and 35 minutes. I wanted to congratulate Dale, but the aroma from the Boathouse forced me to slam a slab of ribs instead.

        I called him later. “We did it, big guy,” I said.

        “My (training) program calls for me to run a mile tomorrow. I may never run again,” Dale said.

        Yeah. Me neither.

        E-mail: pdaugherty@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/daugherty.

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