The deadline run

Baby Kyla was all aglow with her nifty jaundice-fighting light blanket.

Baby Kyla was all aglow with her nifty jaundice-fighting light blanket.

So we’re at my parents’ house Saturday night, cleaning up after Brent and Darcy’s baby shower. It’s nearly midnight and everybody’s exhausted,  except for all the kids, who take periodic breaks from filming a fake horror movie trailer to admire their new cousin.

I have 20 minutes to squeeze in a run if I want to keep my Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak alive.

Do I really want to venture out into the cold, dark night on a soggy, freshly graded gravel road after listening to my brothers rehash recent reports of panther sightings in the area?

No. But I hate the idea of giving up on the streak when I know I can knock this out in 10 minutes, especially since I can probably talk Dad into driving along beside me to protect me from any would-be panthers.

Does everybody here think I’m nuts? Probably. I don’t even bother asking my sister to come along, because though she’s usually up for joining me for a run when her schedule allows, she was too swamped to start the streak on Thanksgiving Day and so now she has no desire to jump in this late in the game.

I’d have a hard time explaining my motivation to the nonrunners in the crowd. Sure, the streak has a bit to do with staying active during the holiday feasting season, but it’s not like the 100 calories I burn on this run would erase the damage I could’ve done if I’d indulged myself on all the goodies at tonight’s party. (This was a night for exercising restraint, and it worked, mostly.)

It’s nice to have a quiet little personal quest during such a noisy, gaudy time of year. I’ve learned some things about myself as a runner, not anything exceptionally profound or easy to verbalize, mostly little things about what holds me back at times and what helps me break through those self-imposed barriers.

This particular run is as boring as they come, just a straight shot down the gravel road. Even if it weren’t dark, there’s not much to see here I haven’t seen hundreds if not thousands of times before.

When I get back to the house and my brothers ask how it went, I make a joke about how I should’ve waited a few more minutes and then run 2 miles — getting in the 1-mile minimum for both Saturday and Sunday all in one run.

They laugh. But the truth is, even on the busiest days I’m enjoying this too much to want to short myself a run. I’m curious what else I’ll find on the way to New Year’s Day, if I can keep this streak going til then.

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