Last night I went out to an establishment that I visit fairly often. When I arrived there was a line of young people in front of me also waiting to get in out of the frigid cold. Even though I was by far the oldest person standing at the door, I still needed to show my ID, just like the others, in order to gain admittance.
Once inside, I took off my coat and headed for my favorite area. I was met by a couple of smiles and few brief statements of “hello” as I made my way through the crowd. I’m a regular, and although not everyone knows my name, quite a few recognize me from my frequent visits. Both employees and other regulars offer up casual conversation, but I’m a man with a purpose, and I’m anxious to get down to business!
I begin working on my first, knowing that many more will likely follow. Other patrons are enjoying the same as me, but none of these younglings are as experienced, nor do they have the tolerance. I finish my first, then my second, and then my third. Others are standing around talking or worse yet, flirting with the opposite sex, totally oblivious of the true nature of this establishment!
I’m probably considered “hard core,” but I continue on anyway. The fourth and fifth follow as easily as the previous three and I’m beginning to experience the desired effect; I’m feeling no pain! I know I could continue on all night, but I tell myself I’m going to quit with ten.
While working on my sixth, my stomach starts to feel a little upset, but I’m used to dealing with these minor pains. I refuse to quit and before I know it, the cramps are gone, and I’m starting on number seven! People are starting to stare, but the regulars have seen me put on such a display before and think nothing of it!
As I start my eighth, I hear the announcement I’ve been dreading: “We are closing in 10 minutes!” NO! I’m not ready to quit yet! I want to get two more under my belt! I ignore the warning and continue on anyway.
I’m finished with my eighth, and planning on starting another, when I’m met by an employee. She says: “Sir, you’ve had enough! It’s time for you to go home!” I try to reason with her that I really need two more, but she insists that the building is closing, and I’ll have to stop at eight. I see others putting on their coats and caps and as they begin slowly heading for the exits, I resign myself to the fact that I too have to leave. The employee escorts me to my coat, and ensures that I put it on and head for the door. She’s had experience dealing with us obsessive types before, and wants to make sure that I don’t try to sneak back around her for “just one more.”
I headed out the door of the UND Wellness Center last night satisfied that I had completed eight miles of running, but a little disappointed that I had failed to complete the final two. The 6 PM closing time simply comes too early at the Wellness Center on Saturdays. That’s how life has changed for a 47 year old marathon runner: One who once closed down night clubs on Saturday nights now closes down health clubs instead!