Ollie

Ollie, loyal companion and running dog of Juanita Peters, was sorely disappointed on a recent run.

I know I have been silent for a while — you haven’t seen a column from me in months. But I haven’t forgotten you, dear readers. I have been waiting — waiting for the winter snows to melt, and to tell you of my spring running adventures. And ah, I had some good adventures planned to share with you. But, I fear I don’t have any epic stories to tell now -—just a confession to make.

The coronavirus crisis is all my fault.

See, I am cursed with bad running ju-ju. Every time that I sign up to compete in a fantastical race in a far-flung location, the race is cancelled due to a natural disaster or an act of God.

I have had races shut down due to freak blizzards, thunderstorms, hail and fires. I signed up for a week-long running cruise in the Caribbean a few years back and you know what happened? Hurricane Maria. My bad ju-ju nearly destroyed the infrastructure of an entire archipelago.

This spring I booked a trip with a bunch of my lady running friends to compete in a half marathon in old San Juan, Puerto Rico. You know what happened — earthquakes and tsunamis .

I purposely did NOT sign up for a chance to compete in the New York City Marathon this year for fear that doing so would cause a certain calamity, such as an asteroid strike.

But I slipped up. I decided to run March 15 of this year in one of the greatest races on the planet: the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. This is my favorite race — EVER! I should have known, when I pressed the ‘register’ button on my computer to sign up for the event, that I was dooming the planet to chaos and devastation.

And sure enough, the coronavirus pandemic struck, bringing human civilizations across the globe to a screaming halt. And causing the event organizers to cancel the race. It’s my bad ju-ju, striking again.

But don’t worry folks: this will pass. See, I have made a solemn vow. Until this crisis is over, I shall make the ultimate sacrifice. I shall refrain from registering for any more in-person running events.

However, I won’t leave you, my readers and my friends, hanging. I may not be racing for a while, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still be running. I just won’t be running with large groups of people. Just a friend or two who will be running at least six feet away from me. Cuz social distancing is really a thing now. Or I’ll be running on my treadmill, solo. But I will still have stories to tell — and tell them I shall.

Take yesterday, for example. My best buddy, Juanita, and I decided to meet on one of the back roads in the county for a quick (or slow) five mile jaunt. About half way through our jog, Juanita started telling me a story about an acquaintance who broke her foot once upon a long time ago. To illustrate the damage done to said friend’s foot, Juanita paused for a moment, holding her hand in front of her and pursing her fingers together in a tight claw-like motion to indicate aforementioned foot damage.

Apparently, this hand gesture is the universal symbol, in doggie sign language, for ‘ham hock.’ Because immediately, Juanita’s running pooch Ollie jumped up and chomped down on Juanita’s pursed-up talon of a hand. Clearly, he was anticipating the opportunity to savor some deep hammy goodness. But this was not his fate.

For Juanita, in slow motion, slapped Ollie upside the face.

Not a violent slap. Just enough to dislodge his teeth from her fingers.

However, Ollie’s surprise at the slap equaled Juanita’s surprise at having been chomped in the first place. As he spat out her hand, the look of confusion and hurt on Ollie’s doggy face was unmistakable.

And all I could do was laugh.

I found myself doubled over, gasping for air, shrieking with such force that I couldn’t speak and nearly lost control of my bladder. Juanita joined me in a mirthful guffaw, both of us laughing so hard that tears streamed down our cheeks.

I think I heard Ollie giggle, too.

And in that moment, I was reminded that this is what life is about. Sometimes, we think we’re going to get something juicy and good, like a ham hock or a great race, or a spring full of festive events to share with family and friends, like weddings and graduations. But then life slaps us in the face with something like a global pandemic.

However, the sting will only be temporary. And we can still find the humor lining the edges of these dark clouds we’re under these days. We’ll find them in the little things, in our families and friends and in the funny moments that pop out of nowhere.

I promise to bring you more stories of those moments. And we can laugh together.

I have had races shut down due to blizzards, earthquakes, fires, hail, thunderstorms and tsunamis

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