Last week, I burped several times during a run. Not little innocent burps, but rather the heavy-duty kind that grumble with the guttural force of a mufflerless hot rod. Up through the esophagus the gas climbed, before its volcanic pressure spewed a foul aftertaste into the atmosphere. Each time I had to stop to belch.
All I wanted was one continuous easy run. Just an easy pace through the flat and shady neighborhoods that captured the serene ambience of a lazy summer day. But that was not going to happen. Acid reflex was in control.
Why did I stop? Because the alternative not to would’ve resulted in an implosion of gas distributing massive amounts of pressure against all walls of the belly chamber—much like a birthday party of 6-year-olds bouncing their indestructible bodies in all directions inside an air-filled jumping castle. Did I want to stop? Hell, no! We distance runners are a stubborn species. We’ll push through any pain or discomfort just shy of a broken femur.
But apparently not gas.
We take a lot of pride in not stopping on a run. In our obsessive minds, if we do stop, it can be classified as “FAILURE”. As I feel the gas percolating, my mind wanders, imagining a dreadful encounter with another runner….
He’s running on the opposite side of the street, and notices me bent over. I can feel his eyes. I look at my watch, as if that’s a reason for me to have stopped. He says, “Gas, buddy? That was quite a burp.”
“No,” I reply, “No gas. Just a side stitch.”
“In your throat?”
“Yeah, it’s a big one.” I wave him off like a mosquito.
“Don’t wave me off like a mosquito!” He says, raising his voice to a mild but pointed holler. “All I did was ask a question.”
“I didn’t wave you off. It was a fly.”
“Fly my ass, buddy. I know your kind.”
My kind? I’m now a kind? What kind of kind? Like a mischievous vagrant? I swear this mosquito is a pest. I take a stand and say, “You know what…buddy…you’re a…”
My sentence is interrupted. I can’t speak. The gas pressure fires up through my esophagus, then quickly expands into my mouth that, for an instant, inflates my cheeks like a pufferfish. And then…that all too familiar sound: the comical quick burst of a burp.
“You got issues, buddy. Not that you’re burping, but that you feel guilty for stopping. As if checking your watch made for a legitimate reason to stop. Like it’s against your running religion. You, my friend, need the Twelve Stop Program.
And that’s where my imagination peters out, and the man continues his run, dissolving into the distance. I’m left alone with a superego that is creatively trying to convince my ego that despite the discomfort of acid reflux, stopping during a run for a some needed burp relief, really isn’t such a bad thing.
I never did get to explain to myself just exactly what enrolling in a Twelve Stop Program would entail. My imagination decided I might be better served just accepting things and moving on. So, I fess up and shoe denial away. After all, like the man said: it wasn’t the burping that was the issue—it was everything else in my head.
We humans can be an obsessive breed for sure. Stopping on a run is really small potatoes. No need to feel guilty. Life will go on. And, eventually, so too will the run.
Copyright Ros Hill 2016