23 Minutes on the Vltava

Runner @ Hyde ParkThe commuters on the 3 tram are staring at me, obviously overwhelmed by the spectacle of a fat man leaning against a trashcan stretching his hamstrings. I finish stretching, cry the cry of a man out of procrastinatory tactics and step into my run with the pace of a well-fed gastropod. Today the goal is 23 minutes of running, about 4.2K.

The main advantage of running along the Vltava River is that it offers more visual distractions. There are spandex-clad goddesses, bums drying out from a night on the Beaujolais Boxeau, and the quiet Vltava itself. Disadvantages include obstacles such as ducks, geese, dogs and people who make me look fast and bendy. Old women drag along shopping caddies and old men drag along other old men.

The main disadvantage is that these people, ducks and commuters can also see me at a moment when dignity and strength are not the first adjectives one would use to describe me. And this is most painfully relevant when it involves the spandex goddesses.

The toughest parts of the 23 minute run are the first 6 minutes and the last 14 minutes. There is a 3 minute window during which I don’t want a duck to shoot me in the brain or an old woman to knock me out with her shopping caddy. Mr. Murphy ruling my world like Penn rules Teller’s, I don’t see any people during this 3 minute comfort window.

Today, around minute 18, a tram goes by, the windows of which are stuffed with gawking commuters. “Co čumite, you bastards?” I shout. What are you staring at, you bastards?

Nobody answers, but if they did, I am sure it would not improve my mood. This thought is lost as a spandex goddess approaches and I employ every molecule in my body to appear unworried about my heart rate. She smiles at me and I reciprocate, though simultaneously wiping sweat out of my eyeballs and grunting in pain nixes out the smile. She passes and I look at my watch through a waterfall of salty liquid.

Another 4 minutes.

That’s OK, I say. There are some ducks ahead; maybe one of them has a gun.

  1. #1 by Gabrielle on May 7, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    It is not easy to start working out. Keep it up Dam. I’m sure my summer of swimming and walking around post baby will have me wishing ducks had guns.

  2. #2 by Damien Galeone on May 8, 2012 - 12:47 am

    Darling Gab, don’t worry, I’m sure most ducks in the U.S. have guns.

  3. #3 by Andy on May 8, 2012 - 6:30 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one, buddy. Of course, that’s why my decision to start running in the mornings was coupled with a hunt for somewhere nondescript. Luckily, my 6:30am route is pretty desolate save for a few old people walking their dogs; I’m a picture of perfect health to them.

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