It wasn’t something I’d normally do on a whim. Normal whim decisions occur in the frozen food aisle, where instead of Vanilla Bean, I get crazy and pick up Moose Tracks. But acts of physical prowess? Meh. Deciding Thursday night to run a half marathon on Saturday morning — that’s serious spontaneity for me.

On Thursday afternoon, during my latest visit to Wisconsin, I decided to go for an afternoon run. I picked a 4.5 mile route on a grass and gravel trail from my parents’ house in Big Bend to Muskego, the next town over. Since my dad works in Muskego, I asked him to pick me up on his way home. I love running from point A and finishing at point B. There’s something about not having to retrace my tracks that makes the run an adventure.

I felt great going into the last mile. Like I could have tacked on a few more miles, but without my cellphone, I couldn’t change my route. I veered off the trail and walked over to the parking lot of Culver’s, a burger and custard restaurant owned by my dad’s friend, Kevin. This was the pick-up spot. No dad yet.

I went inside to see if Kevin was working. I hadn’t seen him in a few years. He walked out of his office and grinned at me. “Jeez, what’s goin’ on, Schroeder?” He looked at my attire. It wasn’t exactly dinner wear.

“I’m a little sweaty. Probably don’t want to hug me,” I warned him.

“What the heck’s on your feet?”

My Vibram FiveFingers are like my kids. I get excited when people ask me about them. I love to talk about how they’ve changed my life.

“Before these things,” I said, pointing to the bright blue toe-shoes on my feet, “I could hardly run a mile before my knees and hips started hurting like hell.”

In college, I went through 3 or 4 pairs of arch-support, anti-pronating, cushioned-to-the-max running shoes. A few times a year, I’d say to myself, OK, I’m going to start running and stick to it this time. After a month or so, I’d give up. It was too painful.

Then, I talked to one of Kirk’s friends who ran in these minimalist shoes. He had nothing but good things to say, so I bought a pair last year. My foot strike and overall stride changed drastically. I developed lots of new muscles in my legs.

“And,” I said, finishing my infomercial, “I’ve been running in these shoes ever since — totally pain free.”

“Very cool,” said Kevin. “You know, I’m actually running a half marathon on Saturday.”

No kidding. I didn’t know Kevin liked to run. I didn’t think he had time; he spent most of his waking hours at the restaurant.

My dad walked in and sat down in the booth next to me.

“Craig,” said Kevin. “You should run with me on Saturday. Get some freakin’ exercise, old man.” Technically, someone could join the race; Kevin’s running partner had backed out, but was still registered.

“Yeah, Dad,” I said. “Come on. You ran track in high school.”

He laughed. “I was a sprinter, not a dopey cross country runner. Chicks dig the sprinters.”

Kevin shook his head, smiling.

~ ~ ~

On the car ride home, I asked Dad if we had any plans for Saturday. “I don’t think so. Why you ask?”

“Maybe we could go cheer Kevin on.”

But then I thought about standing on the sidelines, watching everyone running by. I’d want to be running too.

“Or, maybe I should run with Kevin,” I said.

“You want to run a half marathon?” asked my dad, looking amused.

I had already been considering it. There’s a marathon and half marathon held in Carlsbad every year in January. I could build up to run a half marathon by January.

“So what’s the longest you’ve ever run?” he asked me.

“The 4.5 miles I ran today,” I said.

He coughed up a laugh. “And you want to do thirteen?”

“Yeah, I know…” It sounded a little nuts. But I figured, I’d been running pretty consistently for over a year. I should be able to do it. And it wasn’t the thirteen miles that really scared me. It was the running for two hours straight that did.

I mulled it over. When was the last time I had done something that scared me? I was considering running a half marathon anyway, albeit a few months down the road. But how does the saying go? Why put off till January what you can do on Saturday?

I called up Kevin after dinner. I got his voicemail.

“Hey, uh, Kevin… it’s Lauren. I was thinking maybe I’d run that half marathon with you.” ☼