I hate running.

My adversarial relationship with the sport began as a freshman in college. After a few too many Fritos, a friend suggested we form a running group. Before I knew what I was being sucked into – wham! – my alarm clock was rudely awakening me at 4:30 a.m. on a chilly autumn morning and I was propelling myself toward the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, just like Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky.” It was inspiring.

Two weeks later, the inspirational feeling had yielded to one of animosity. I was certain there must be a more pleasant way to stay in shape.

While in my twenties, I resided near the Boston Marathon route, and decided I should once again befriend running. I’d return from my evening jaunts, all sweaty and athletic, feeling rather superior to my non-runner husband. Within 11 days, I had “done” something to my knee. I remembered why I did not like running.

Although I admittedly hate running, I do not hate runners. I do notice, however, that I have never had a runner in my inner circle of friends. At least not an uber-committed “Runner” runner. I clearly have nothing in common with any person who finds pleasure in doing that to themselves every morning. Especially before 8 a.m. Who are these people and what childhood trauma did they suffer? And what are they running from? To me, hard-core runners are no different from alcoholics. They’re clearly looking to escape reality and just get high. Except they are even more masochistic.

I am certain Freud was not a runner.

And most runners are not a good advertisement for the sport itself. The only truly joyful runner I’ve seen in my lifetime was the schnauzer we had when I was a kid. Much like other members of our family, he was a highly energetic, slightly repressed Protestant who just needed to let loose. He would occasionally “escape,” and tear through the neighborhood like a mad man. Our road made a nice, circular loop, and I have fond memories of him galloping up the street at 80 mph, with a look of unparalleled joy on his cute little scraggly doggy face.

Now that was a happy runner.

And it’s not as if runners are all extremely healthy. Every day you read about some avid runner who has dropped dead. I suspect that when die-hard runners perish, they require a closed casket, to hide their tormented facial expressions and all of those ace bandages holding their knees together.

Now, let me make it clear that I am not anti-exercise. No, dear readers, I am actually a great proponent of physical movement. But I go for sports that put a smile on my face. Maybe I am just envious of anyone who can run 26 miles – I mean, physiologically speaking, I am more of a sprinter than a marathoner. Which may also explain the duration of most of my dating relationships.

After residing in the heart of Boston Marathon territory for half my life, my husband died and I moved straight to – where? Cape Elizabeth. Spandex is the town’s official fabric. And driving here on weekend mornings is like navigating an obstacle course of runners. Many of them taunt you, running in the middle of the road. Sometimes I’d like to veer a bit to the right and – well, a woman can dream.

Road races seem to follow me wherever I go, and have caused me much trauma. First it was the Boston Marathon. Now it’s the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K. Last August, I stayed at a boyfriend’s (I use that term loosely) house after a lovely Friday evening date. The next morning, I attempted to drive home, only to find myself stranded for three hours. I’d forgotten about the Beach to Beacon.

As I attempted to snooze in the elementary school parking lot, I could hear the crowd cheering the runners on. I had hoped to sneak into my house before my kids awakened, but alas, foiled again by a pack of runners. My only solace lay in the fact that our faces all shared the same pained expression.

I hate running.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com, see her art at Silver Crayon Studios in Portland or contact her at [email protected]