On Friday at 4 a.m., I arrived at the local mall, where a dozen charter buses waited to take 500+ fifth-grade students and chaperones from Florida to Washington, D.C. I knew what awaited: Three long days in D.C.; two longer days on a bus; dozens of monuments, memorials, and museums; approximately 7,000 gas-passes; lots of walking; tons of sweating; little sleeping. Also: Zero running.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been busting it: Running five days a week, lifting, doing high-intensity circuits, playing some hoops, riding the bike. But ever since I volunteered to chaperone, I knew that these five days would be a roadblock—not because I didn’t want to stick to my schedule, but because I couldn’t.
Responsible for my two boys and two of their friends around the clock meant that there’d be no free time to run—a bummer since the running scenery there includes such eye-pleasers as the Potomac, all the monuments, the U.S. Capitol. I didn’t obsess. I just told myself: You’re doing this because you want to take this trip with your kids, and, heck, you’re still on your feet and moving around.
Now, I’m the first to admit that I have more flaws than most people who frequent this site. Sloppy stride, thick thighs, defeatist attitude about aforementioned stride and thighs. But the one thing I really try to avoid is making excuses. If I skip workouts or don’t push myself or can’t resist cheese, I don’t blame anyone or anything.
I know I control whether I do or do not.
This trip, however, didn’t feel like an excuse—not in the “I just don’t have time to exercise” way. I really didn’t have the time—or freedom—to run.
And I was okay with that.
My plan was to get back at it when I returned, take solace in the miles I covered walking, and do what I could to avoid catastrophes at the scheduled buffet stops (mission not accomplished there, surprise-surprise).
Overall, the trip was a blast—hanging with the kids and seeing so much of our country’s history. But the first day served as the ultra-marathon of our trip: I boarded the bus at 4 a.m. and settled into the hotel room around 11 (chaperones shared two to a room, kids bunked four to a room). Long day with no coffee, lots of Bieber-singing, and a mongo headache. I went to bed and set my alarm to wake the kids up at 6.
When I went out of my room the next morning, a fellow father was getting ready to go into his room. He had earphones draped around his neck, a sweat mark on his shirt, and running shoes on his feet.
“Did you just run?” I said.
“Yeah, just did a quick one on the treadmill downstairs,” he said.
“Strong move,” I said, smiling, but knowing that I had made a weak one.
Ted Spiker did not sing along to Bieber, but he thinks he may have yelled Dyn-o-Mite during a Taio Cruz song. You can follow him on Twitter at @ProfSpiker.