Not satisfied with his two completed marathons, my fella Paul, who began running 2 1/2 years ago after being horrified at a series of photos taken of him during a rose festival in Holland with a decidedly expanded girth, dropped a bombshell casually during breakfast.
“I signed up for a half ‘Iron-Man’ in May,” he said with the same inflection one might use for, “I’m going out in a few minutes to run some errands.”
Knowing better than to squash someone’s enthusiasm, I replied, holding my speared piece of French toast hovering near my mouth, “Oh?” followed by, “Isn’t that a whole bunch of different stuff?”
“Yep,” Paul said, allowing himself now a rather gooey breakfast as he has been not only successful in ridding himself of his target 30 pounds but has also become an avid runner and can burn off anything he eats like a cheetah. “You swim for 1.2 miles, then bike for 56 and finish by running a half-marathon of 13.1 miles.”
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“All on the same day?”
“All on the same day.”
This, naturally, sent my brain into middle-aged sensibility land, along with other wives whose husbands begin their bucket lists in their mid 50s, starting with a goal of a marathon and ending with Mount Everest or a Harley or something else equally dangerous.
“Isn’t there something not as grueling?” I asked. “Is there a ‘Half-Copper Man,’ or some kind of alloy?”
“Why would I want to do something easier?” Paul countered, preparing himself for, “Well, honey, you’re not 25 anymore,” or “Men your age have dropped dead during those sort of events.”
“It’s not that I don’t think you’re capable of doing it,” I said, pouring myself another cup, “I just don’t get the point of doing it.”
“The point of it,” Paul replied, “is to see if I can do it. To increase my fitness level to the max so that I can be as strong and healthy as possible.”
I blinked at him over my “Keep Calm and Shut Up” coffee mug.
“But we live on a farm,” I said, after some length.
“So? Yes? We live on a farm.”
“Well,” I began carefully, “I guess I don’t see the point of riding a bike for 56 miles unless an ax murderer is chasing you down the road, or swimming over a mile then running a half marathon when everything you need to test the boundaries of physical fitness is right outside the front door. Take the manure pile … ”
“You take the manure pile,” Paul retorted.
“My point,” I said patiently, “being that just moving that manure pile by wheelbarrow is a Herculean task, given the bucket isn’t working on the tractor. Or splitting the wood from that dead tree we had taken down — I don’t see any of those skinny running guys capable of splitting a cord of solid oak or moving the manure pile across the property.”
“I doubt moving a manure pile is on anyone’s bucket list,” Paul mused.
“Well, it oughta be,” I said, beginning to relish the idea. “I think moving a manure pile all by yourself would be a fine accomplishment. It would take massive upper body and back strength, as well as stamina. And when you finish, instead of having one of those little decals to stick on the back of your car that read ‘13.1’ or ‘26.2’ after running a marathon, there could be a sticker showing a guy with a pitchfork, standing next to a giant pile of … ”
“Tell you what,” said Paul, zipping up his warm-up jacket and tossing the hood over his head before striding out the front door for a training run in 30-degree temps. “Seeing that the manure is produced by your horses, I think that moving the manure pile should be a bucket list goal of yours. And just like in a marathon, I’ll line up a whole bunch of people to stand around and clap and yell encouragement each time you trudge past with another load. I’ll even set up water stations along the way.”
In the end, I phoned my manure removal guy (yes, there is such a thing) who, with Bobcat and dump truck, removed Mount Poo in 20 minutes flat for $75.
Honestly, I think it’s great that Paul has all this new-found enthusiasm to run and bike and swim and, at the age of 56, literally run circles around guys half his age. He looks great, he feels great, and his cholesterol has plummeted nicely.
But because my normal day is already quite physical with all the horse stuff, my own bucket list wishes are considerably less demanding but equally exciting simply to consider: sleeping in until 8 a.m. … coming downstairs in the morning without stepping in something the cats just deposited … finding 36-inch inseam, quilted Carharts on sale, “2 for 1” …
A girl can dream, can’t she?