Kibbles ‘n Bits n’ Bits n’ Bits ‘n Bits… dogs talking, singing, presenting statistics. I sometimes start hearing Kibble ‘n Bits when I run. I think it has happened since I started running in 2009. It used to be that is just popped up, I never asked why or try to stop it, nor did I think of what it did with me.
Running into an aid station late in a race to eat, drink and restore, often feels like receiving a big hug. To leave that hug is often one of my greatest challenges in running ultras. To get out there and get on with it, to get it done is not always as alluring as staying for another minute in the tent, to keep chatting with someone until you are cold and start looking for a blanket. All of which just increases the beauty and warmth of the hug. The aid station hug is a threat to my race! But it feels so good!
I have found no way to really substitute the aid station hug. But there must be a way to come close, a placebo to the aid station symbolic hug. How do you give yourself a mental hug? What thought or image gives you a warm blanket of memories and associations? Maybe an image of a person you admire. I have tried to think of my family. Doesn’t work. I cannot get around the idea that I am neglecting them while I run.
I am looking for something that not only puts a smile on my face, but also lets me swim in a comforting sensation of trust, compassion and friendship. Running is a mind game. Learning to play your mind, finding images that are resources for you, are key to run far, to deal with the suffering and the feelings of pointlessness you sometimes have to fight.
I started reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek a couple of days ago and he speaks of a TV-ad he felt could have described what was going on with his brain about half way into Badwater. He was lying on the side of the road around midnight and pictured his brain like an egg in frying pan. It was an ad against drug abuse.
Jurek’s episode points out that not all associations are helpful, although they might be accurate, and I realized what my Kibbles ‘n Bits tune does for me. And I understood that I can use it consciously. Up to now the tune has come along, playing in my head, when I have fun or when I am bored, always bringing a smile to my face. On a train the other day I contemplated the worth of positive memories, of associations that arouse feelings of comfort, security, pride and gratitude.
On the couch in Par Court, Johnson City, in 1989, I was hanging out with Mrs. Oldham and trying to learn to enjoy ice tea, there was a commercial break in the afternoon TV show that was on. Claire was probably grading papers. A Kibbles ‘n Bits commercial came on and I laughed out loud. If any of the teenage kids had been there I probably wouldn’t have. In that setting, in the pleasant company of Claire, waiting for the Oldham Kids to come home from their summer jobs as life guards and candy stripers, I was relaxed, happy, comfortable and felt thoroughly accepted although the Oldhams at that time hardly knew me. I felt I was among friends. My job that summer was to grow, to grow as a person. And I did. I had many other opportunities to grow in their company in the years that followed.
My Tennessee family gave me so much between 1989 and some years into the 90’s. Formative years. And when I run, a silly tune from a dog food commercial brings me a sense warmth, joy, comfort and friendship. A big imaginary hug.
I soon learnt to love ice tea.
Kibble ‘n Bits is preferred over Pedigree by three out of four dogs.
(This time in English, I hope this text will have a handful of readers in Tennessee.)