Calculating Minds

It was a date.

My husband and I had agreed to rise early on a rare Thursday when he was scheduled to “vacation” from work in order to tackle some at-home projects, with the intent to squeeze in a run before charging headlong into necessary tasks.

He, being a focused firstborn, followed through with his end of the bargain, rolling out of bed at nearly his usual time and brewing his customary pot of strong coffee to get the juices flowing.

I, a slacker second child, ignored his departure and promptly returned to dreamland.

But not much later, a slight noise–the recycling truck? an outer door creaking?–alerted me to the reality that morning was already in progress, and I jerked unsteadily toward the window, whipping up the shade just in time to see him passing through the door in running gear.

Still lacking my glasses, I called out to him, “I’ll be right down,” and quickly I threw on shorts, a t-shirt and socks before scooting down the stairs.

“I wondered if you were coming, but I didn’t hear anything so I thought I’d go ahead,” he explained, waiting as I tied my tennies and guzzled a half cup of hot, necessary caffeine.

“It’s okay,” I said. “Since it’s later, let’s just go for a shorter run–maybe down the street, through the park, up the path and back.”

He agreed and we were soon off, he with noticeably more pep and vigor in his step than I had in mine. But I was moving, taking strides, and before long the relatively cool air and bright mid-August morning were motivating me.

Because I’d dressed myself (bleary-eyed and blind) without regard to his get-up, we both happened to be wearing black shorts and matching Dri-fit shirts in bold gold-and-black from the recent local Mary Kay 5K. So much for being inconspicuous.

“How far have we gone?” I inquired as sweat started collecting on my forehead.

“Less than a mile,” he answered, having previously charted most possible jogging routes around town leading from our house.

“Are you sure?” I replied, incredulous.

“Yes, we’ve been running seven minutes,” he said, consulting his watch in mid-step. “Unless you’re running a seven-minute mile.”

“Oh,” I said, chastened. “But it feels like it’s been at least a mile.”

“How far will it be if we follow the path home?” I pestered my reluctant running coach.

“Well, it’s about one kilometer from here to our house, so 1.1 or 1.2 miles altogether,” he answered with precision.

“Really?” I queried, doubting his calculations. “I thought it was at least a mile and a half.”

I volunteered that it would still be far enough for me on this particular morning, while he determined to do an additional loop on another path to extend his distance.

“So you’ll run about four miles, then,” I said encouragingly when he detailed the route.

“No, that will be about two more miles, and two plus this one will be a little over three,” he said patiently.

“But this is really closer to two, so it’s more like four,” I contended, irrationally desiring to extend my own run without expending further effort.

“Jane, two plus one is three, not four,” he responded, giving me a quizzical glance.

I complained, “That’s why I had problems with math–there’s just no room in it for personal interpretation and creativity.”

And this, friends, is why I may not be in adequate shape to run the Turkey Day 10K on Sept. 13. In sum, running’s all in the numbers–and apparently every one counts.