Marathon madness

marathon-oldToday’s Boston Marathon is a truly awesome spectacle — 36,000 determined souls dashing, gasping and staggering 26.2 miles through the streets toward Boston. The deadly high-speed crashes and the human carnage… oh wait, that’s car racing.

If you are running, I salute you. And to encourage you, I offer — without the slightest sense of irony and just a touch of churlishness — the old adage: Break a leg.

But be forewarned, the surgeon general has determined that marathon running may be hazardous not only to your health but to every tendon, ligament and piece of cartilage in the human body.

I was actually tempted to run this year because I could really use the $150,000 grand prize. But I had to pull out because of, uh, a ruptured flexor ligament in my, um, quadriceps. Yeah, that’s it.

Nope. Actually it’s because by my calculations it would take four to five days to reach the finish line, plus my chances of survival would be only about 40 percent. So once again I am penciling myself in as a pre-race favorite in the prestigious Armchair Division.

Let’s just say that my only attempt to run Boston provided ample proof that I am not cut out for marathons.

I got to Hopkinton real early, then walked four miles to the starting line. The aroma was a pungent blend of Ben Gay, Aspercreme and Triple-Action Gold Bond Powder.

When the starter’s gun went off, I was instantly trampled by a pack of Cub Scouts jogging for the Jimmy Fund and a couple stringbeans from the Kenyan junior varsity.

Just as I found my stride, my right kneecap flared up as if I’d been stung by a giant bee, but it was actually just my ACL snapping like a dried-up gumband. By the time I reached the first mile marker I had tripped over my shoelace, twisted my left ankle and tried four different breathing methods before finally settling on wheezing.

At around three miles, I narrowly avoided a 12-runner pileup on Route 135.

When I somehow made it to the five-mile mark in Ashland, I swung my hand out to grab some water, but missed and accidentally punched myself in the face. The blow knocked me into a motorcycle cop and, though the pepper spray clouded my vision, I managed to scramble away before he could cite me for resisting cardiac arrest.

I switched to kilometers for a while to make it seem like I’d covered more ground, but was soon hobbled by what felt like an ice-cream headache in my left lung.

Was I there yet? Nope.

Shortly after I crossed into Wellesley, I was overtaken by a tubby, crimson-faced guy with a purple vein the size of a Vienna sausage keeping time on his left temple.

Halfway up Heartbreak Hill, I was gripped by the sensation that an angry falcon was trying to claw my heart out of my chest cavity. But that was just a hallucination. What really happened, an MRI revealed later, was that my aorta got plugged up by a chunk of Power Bar that I found on the road.

Undeterred, I ignored the chariots fire burning up my innards, and convinced myself that the dark blood trickling from my right ear was probably normal. But then one of my leg cramps started emitting a high-pitched whining sound, something like a circular saw cutting through a fibula or femur. To this day, I have no recollection whatsoever of Miles 22-25.

Reliable sources report that when I finally staggered across the finish line, I guzzled 14 liters of blueish Gatorade and hailed an ambulance. The doctor said I would eventually regain most of the feeling in my pelvis, but advised me to get used to the sandpaper sound between my second and third vertebrae.

Later, I would be disqualified for purchasing piggy-back rides through much of Brighton and Brookline.

That’s OK, because I actually have a small confession to make. I have never tried to run the Boston Marathon, and a ruptured quadroplexor cartilage did not prevent me from joining this year’s field.

But if I ever do run a marathon, my plan is simple: Have people sponsor me per mile as a fundraiser to help defray the enormous medical bills I would surely rack up.

— John Breneman


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