I had no problem running away from that glopy, gelatinous mystery and got a head start down the beach. Before too long, I could smell the delicious smell of rot again. This time there was a Thing that looked like a tree trunk surrounded by a cloud of flies, but smelled like ocean and dead things. I tucked my tail and ran as far away from it as I could without jumping in the ocean.
"What was that lady's problem?" I asked Mom. "I think you startled her with your barking," Mom said. "SHE startled ME with HER barking!" I said. "It's true, she should have been paying attention. She was a bit of a dingbat, wasn't she?" "You think SHE was a dingbat? Did you see her dog?!"
It is a tradition for four-legged runners to wear face socks in the start and finish area. Mom says it's not nice to criticize other cultures, but I don't think it's nice to humiliate anyone or hold their mouths shut. How are you supposed to do fun things like bark, eat the chips that Mom is sharing for breakfast, or lick the legs of strangers when you're wearing a face sock? Everywhere I looked there were four-legged runners smooshing their faces on the ground or punching themselves in the nose trying to get the face socks off.
"But Mom, running isn't just about running fast and winning. It's about seeing the world, and feeling your body become a part of the world as the uphills squeeze your muscles, and the downhills pull you like a leash, and you breathe in as much air as you can until you are made of the same stuff as nature is." "I used to feel that way, Oscar. But now when I run I drop out of my body instead of dropping in. I just feel like garbage."
"What's an obstaple?" I asked. "I don't know. Like crawling through mud and jumping over stuff and things. I didn't really read the website that closely. You'll love it. I brought treats." Now I was real excited to do obstaple racing and show off how good I am at getting dirty and looking cool in pictures. But I guess Mom didn't read the website closely at all because she found out that the humans had to do the obstaples too. "Oh, well I can't do that," Mom told the lady with the t-shirts. "I have a medical issue." "Mom, what's a medical issue?" I asked. "It means that I'm wearing socks," she said.
Well... mostly to ourselves. We were running through the skirt of the mountain, where the boulders and bushes fight to see who can win the trail, when I came around the corner and saw a turtle-person right in front of me. "What are you doing here? Let me see your early morning permit!" I barked. She looked suitably scared of me, so when Mom called my name, I figured it was okay to leave the turtle-person, go get Mom and show her.
Once we started walking downhill on the shady side of the mountain, Mom, whose heart pumps ice rather than blood, started to turn blue. Every mile or so, I had to come back to her and block the path so that she could bang her hands on my handsome butt until she could feel them again. It wasn’t that cold, Mom is just made with lizard parts.
Who's to say one human's goals are better than another's. There is room on the course for all kinds of runners*, and if everyone were fast then it would be too crowded for anyone to run their best race. Telling Fabiola that she should quit her 10K just because she walks a lot would be like telling Michael Phelps that he should quit swimming because he's never going to win the Super Bowl. Michael Phelps would of course tell you that the Super Bowl isn't his goal, and then put on his 23 gold necklaces and laugh at Tom Brady's 5 tiny Super Bowl rings.
Then The Man threw something on the ground a few feet in front of us. I looked where it fell, and... "HOLY CRAP!" I said. "There's a spaghetti monster sitting right next to where you were tapping your boot a second ago! Hang on, let me go check it out." The spaghetti monster was about as big around as a rope leash, and had a shakey thing on one end that made noise, and mean eyes on the other end. I knew from experience that this was called a "rattlesnake" from when Mom and I saw a bigger one