A variation on the zombie virus, bearitis is sweeping North America. It’s like any zombie plague, except instead of bitten folk turning into drooling, brain-gobbling sickies, they turn into fuckin’ bears. And not those nice, blackberry-nibbling guys that look cute on postcards—these bears are like grizzlies on PCP. Scientists have configured running shoes that allow the wearer to move faster than the bear-zombs, but only if you’re really hitting the road hard. As a pack of five rabid beasts busts out of nearby brambles, you start moving, fast—but they’re on your heels. Fur flies, drips of spittle hit the back of your neck, but after a 10-minute sprint, they finally surrender their pursuit, allowing you to escape. Just bearly.
You are a fierce, manolo-flaunting lawyer who moonlights as a freelance Secret Service member during the ten vacation days you get each year. One seemingly calm Saturday, you’re working on your diamond-hard buns while running around a placid lake when your phone buzzes. Barack Obama is in some serious shit. A feared tea party terrorist/radio host has cornered him and is holding him hostage with the sheer mass of his large belly while spouting profanities and threats to a group of crying citizens. Luckily, the bastard is harassing your commander-in-chief just across the water. It usually takes you 20 minutes to cut the lake’s circumference in two, but today, you need to make it in 17. It’s up to you to run so fast your shoes morph into melted rubber by mile two. For Barack. For freedom. For America.
Tatum Tour Guide
You’re lacing up your Nikes when you hear a deep, respectful voice shine down upon you like milk and honey. “Excuse me, miss? I’m visiting the area and I’m looking for a nice running route. Can you point me in the right direction?”
It’s Channing Tatum, and as you look up at him, the mid-day sun frames his chiseled chin like a Jesus halo. You reply that there’s a great trail nearby, and you’d be happy to escort him to the entrance.
Just as the two of you reach the trail, a look of disappointment spreads across Channing’s Michelangelo-sculpted cheekbones. His iPhone is dead, and he has nothing to entertain him during his workout. “Miss…” he begins, locking you in with those emerald eyes. “I don’t mean to trouble you further, but would you join me for a mile or so, for company?”
You begin your jog, pointing out local landmarks and exchanging life stories. Turns out you both have the same favorite color (green), both had cocker spaniels growing up, and both believe strongly in our nation’s need for health care reform. As you round mile three, Channing turns to ask how you’re holding up.
“I know we’ve already covered some ground, but if you want to keep going, my friend Ryan has a house with a pool about a mile away. Would you like to head over to sip Gosling-squeezed lemonade and cool off?” Channing asks.
You decide to continue.
You’ve committed to running your first half-marathon, and have selected the Minneapolis race (the most beautiful in the U.S., I guess) as your battleground. You’ve trained for months, you’ve got your weird runner salt and vitamin gel crap tethered to your waist, you’ve mastered the art of throwing water into your mouth using paper cups.
The race begins, and you fight the burn in your muscles as you pound the pavement. Reaching the 13-mile mark just South of the 35W bridge, your run is supposed to begin its decrescendo, but you feel a sudden burst of energy, and decide to keep going.
By mile 15, a race official notices you’re wearing the half-marathon bib and that you’re out of line. He jogs out to you and runs alongside you, explaining that it’s time to get off the route. As you wheeze and puff about attaining goals and going the extra 13 miles, his eyes well with tears as he recalls his first marathon 23 years prior. He becomes your new running partner, carrying you through to mile 20 with words of encouragement and slaps on the back.
You finally cross the finish line. The first thing you do is puke everywhere. People around you start to notice your half-marathon bib, and question you about why you’re at the wrong end point. One nearby runner is a features writer for the local newspaper. You chat with him while guzzling gatorade, and you write your phone number on his sweaty forearm in sharpie.
The story comes out two days later, highlighting your resilient sprint, and launching your moment as a running sensation. Next comes the article in Runner’s World Magazine, a small feature, but it includes a portrait of you looking ripped, standing with hands on your hips with a Rihanna-hard glare on your face.
You continue to run marathons for years, and it’s totally NBD and you stay incredibly sexy and athletically famous until the ripe age of 89.
You just started your run, and already you’re feeling whiney, hungry and jiggly when you remember there’s a reason you’re putting yourself through this: at the end of the trail, small elves are baking you a cake.
It’s a magical cake, and every slice is a different flavor, ranging from raspberry and traditional vanilla to exotic flavors like cardamom. It looks like all the schmancy cakes you see in wedding magazines, except the fondant doesn’t taste like baking powder and cardboard, and you don’t have to commit your life to some dude in order to get one.
The best part about this cake is that it has zero calories, and as the finale to your run, you can sprint right into it, mouth and arms open, and just eat until you feel as if you’ll never need to eat again. And all for no calories!
In reality, after your run, when you find there is no thousand-flavor magic cake awaiting, you will plunge into a cornucopia of rage and loss and other assorted bad emotions, keep running until you reach the nearest bakery/gas station (doughnuts are kind of like cake) and shove something sweet in your mouth, erasing all the calorie-burning work you just accomplished by moving your legs. But hey, at least endorphins are kind of like mild ecstasy without the holes in your brain, right?