Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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Thomas McKenzie's Blog.

Diary of a Slow Ninja, Part One

Birth of a Ninja
Diary of a Slow Ninja
Part One

I don't run. I could say I'm trying to stay true to Sting's admonition in the classic song "Englishman in New York:" a gentleman will walk but never run. I could say that, or I could tell you the truth. Running sucks.

In all my 37 years, I have never had the slightest desire to run. Part of this comes from my mother. She's a running fool. Well, more of a jogging fool. As long as I can remember, she's been the kind of person who gets up a little too early in the morning and goes for a "jog." She used to do this in West Texas, where I'm from. On the hottest, windiest days she was out there. And on the most bitter of freezing, steel-sky days, there she was.

I did not want to be like my mother. Mainly because she wanted me to be like her. She was always pestering me to exercise. And the more she brought it up, the more I wanted to go to my room and play Atari, or read a book, or listen to Roy Clark and Neil Diamond (I wasn't a cool kid).

The other thing I don't like about running is that it is painful. I have, actually, tried to run a few times. I've put on my shoes, and stepped outside, and just started at it. And usually within a block and half, I'm done.

I like to walk. I like to hike. I like to ride a bicycle. I even like to ride my Razor scooter, which looks ridiculous because I'm a grown man. But running. Not for this hombre.

But then my kids started running Cross Country this year. We took them to these meets, and they had to run around the back 40 over at the Dominican Campus. It was their little Christian school and then tons and tons of Catholics. Literal tons, as there were probably a thousand people there for each meet.

In preparation for this, my wife wanted the kids to run a mile a day. And so they did. My wife used to be a big-time runner. Six miles every stinking day, for years and years. But then she developed a terrible back condition, and so now she isn't allowed to run. So she would be out every day with the girls, riding her bike beside them (she has a super cool, no-back-stress bike).

The other night, I went running with them. It was a spontaneous moment of daddy-love. I ran alongside E--, our elder girl, while my wife went with the S--. We ran a full mile, half a mile down the street and half a mile back. In the cool drizzle of a just-after-sunset autumn night. And you know what? I didn't die.

I know that sounds extreme, but I really thought such a thing might cause my heart to crash. Running just seems so painful to me, so difficult, so exerting. But I did not fall over, gasping for breath. I did not pass out. I did not embarrass myself. I found myself fully capable of staying up with a 4th grader (the second fastest 4th grader in her school, by the way).

Flash forward a couple of weeks. My wife buys some clothes so she can go bike riding in this cold weather. She loves to go out every day and burn through 15 miles or so. I'm thinking that I should get some clothes, too. I like to ride, and I also take walks around our neighborhood. So I go to the Army/Navy store and find quite a little get-up.

So five days ago, just before sunset, I put on my gear. I call it my "super hero suit," because its the tightest clothes I own, or have ever owned. It's all black, except the outer jacket which is kind of beige. And I have a black hood that I think must have come from a SWAT team guy who sold it to pay off some gambling debts. With it on, I think I look like a ninja. A big, white ninja. But with no throwing stars. That you know of . . .

I go out to try to ride my bike, but I'm having problems with it, and I'm getting irritated, and so I just put the bike down and decide to run. And run I did. Into the neighborhood.

My thought was that I would run for a while, like a block or two, and then walk. But after a couple of blocks, I just kept going. And going. And, some time later, I had looped all the way back to my house. Three miles.

That was the longest I had ever run. By far. The next longest probably being the one mile the other week with the girls.

So as I'm running through the neighborhood, I have a thought. I look at my reflection in a parked truck and think "I look like a ninja." And then I look at the pace I am running and think "I look like a slow ninja." And now that is what I am. A slow ninja.

And now iHajj presents a new series. A new reason to subscribe to my RSS. Or perhaps a new reason to delete your subscription. I will now chronicle my life in my new sport. This is the Diary of a Slow Ninja.