Several people have asked me if I'm running the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. I have been running it every year since 2000, except for 2002, when I ran New York. But this year I won't be because I was banned.
Everyone gives me the same crazy look when I tell them this. I know they are wondering: What on earth do you have to do to get banned from the marathon? Spit on the water boys? Take a taxi from mile 11 to mile 21? (I've considered this.) Flip the bird at the well-meaning dummies who say, "You're almost there!" when you are at mile 23.
Tip: the only place you're "almost there" is when you can actually SEE the finish line. Don't say this to runners. EVER.
What I did was more heinous than that. I wore an ipod. The horror.
According to the Track & Field blah, blah, blah, section Blah, paragraph something, you're not allowed to wear headphones or some such garbage. I tried to look it up and read it but it was like reading the IRS tax code. Blah, blah, bloo, blah, wah, wah, waaaaaah. Needless to say, I think it said you weren't supposed to do it but it didn't exactly say why.
Here's what happened. I was running along, minding my own business and had my little Shuffle programmed with necessary tunes for the 4 hour journey. It was horribly hot that day and I didn't have anyone to run with. About mile 19, as I was coming up the Franklin avenue bridge, I see a young man wave at me from the curb. He's wearing a volunteer shirt. I stop; I can hear what he says just fine because I'm not so dense as to blast my music so that I'm oblivious to everything around me.
"Ma'am you can't wear that."
If you want to piss me off, call me Ma'am. I'm already too hot, too tired, and now, a little bit too surly.
"You can't wear headphones."
Now I have a problem with his English; it's obvious that I CAN wear headphones because I'm already wearing them. And if I need to listen to "Eye of the Tiger" to get me through the last 6 miles, I'm gonna. Screw the MAN and his STUPID RULES.
I shrug at him. "Whatever."
Then I make like Monty Python and run away up the hill. "Ha, ha! Poop on you," I think.
Of course, he writes down my number.
About a month later, I get a letter from the TCM. It starts off, Dear Mindy... Oooh, I think, maybe I get a prize or something, like being the 1000th person to cross the finish line. Maybe I'll get a T-shirt or a coupon for some Gatorade.
They banned me for one year for wearing my ipod. They said I could disagree and challenge them if I wanted, and I started thinking, "Hah! I will challenge them! I'll write the best letter in the world. I will excoriate them with my words and wit and make them apologize. And then they will send me some free Gatorade."
Then I see the picture they enclosed. It's me, sweaty and hunched over, attempting to tackle the hill at mile 21. My earbuds and cord on full display. There is no way to dispute it. I crumple the letter and throw it away.
So this year I will walk a few blocks down to the parkway, which is also mile marker 11, and watch the runners pass toward Lake Nokomis and the halfway mark. If I'm feeling mean I might say, "You're almost there...to the halfway point, that is."