They don’t half like to run in Philadelphia. Now I am not adverse to a bit of running myself.  Have I told you about my triathlon?  No?  Well you must be the only person I haven’t bored to tears about it. I was even considering bringing my running shoes to keep my hand (foot?) in, perhaps even do a 5k or a Parkrun, but decided they would take up too much room. We may have eaten a lot this holiday, but we haven’t been idle. In fact according to our health trackers we are walking about 8 miles a day. To be honest, I’m knackered.  After 10 days we are slowing down a bit now. Perhaps just the one museum a day instead of the two. Perhaps we’ll go back for a rest before coming out in the evening.  Yep. We are getting old.
The area where we are staying is quite close to the University so there are quite a few “young people” around (who don’t need to go back for a lie down if they are going out in the evening).  There are also a lot of gyms. There are two in the three blocks immediately surrounding the apartment.  It’s quite funny as we stroll back from a local bar or restaurant to see all the young things on their treadmills running with their headphones in, thinking they can stop the course of old age and arthritis. Ah to be young and foolish.
They often run late at night and with it being so humid, a lot of the men seem to run without shirts on.  I say a lot, it’s usually the ones with sculpted Adonis like bodies. Saying that, not all runners here are built for speed.  On Sunday there was a half marathon and as we walked into town we kept meeting people walking towards us with cowbells around their necks. We then realised that they all had race numbers on and the bell was actually the medal.  (They do seem very fond of their bells around here. They have a display of an old one in the city centre. It doesn’t even ring properly, it’s got a big crack in it.  Still they seem happy with it so I just kept quiet.)

According to our guide on one of the tours we did, in 2010 Philadelphia was officially the most overweight city in the states…and they were proud of it. But not now; they have races galore.  This half marathon was the “Rocky” marathon inspired by bad actors but great soundtracks.   As we saw all these people walking towards us, clanging, I felt a it jealous (not that I could do a half marathon) and Karen felt inspired. “There are a lot of people here who are a lot larger than me and they have completed it”. True. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the act of doing it. (They told me that on my triathlon, did I tell you had done a triathlon…oh I have, OK then.) Then there was a very large couple who came our way with race numbers on. “Wow” said Karen “if they can complete it”. “Actually” I interrupted “they don’t have medals. I don’t think they finished”.  Ah. That’s running.  It gives with one leg and takes with the other.

But they also run on the streets.  In packs. Like dogs. In fact the other day we were walking home (for our late afternoon nap) and a pack of girls (and one lad. He’s not daft. “Oh, I’m not very good at running and can’t keep up with all the lads. Can I run with you? I would just be like one of the girls” then boom, the first twisted ankle he’s in there with a bit of mouth-to-mouth. Oh I know your type sir. I have my eye on you. Well I did have but you are only 19 years old and are now 3 blocks away, but I am still watching you).

As this pack came my way, they were running with such gusto and determination (good word gusto, I shall try and use that more in everyday conversation.  “Doctor, I am lacking gusto”. “Will these refried beans give me gusto?”)  that I had to leap out of the way for my own safety. I left Karen to her own devices. In these situations she is small enough to adopt the hedgehog technique and just roll into a ball.  However, it was also bin day and people do just seem to abandon their trash (that’s American for garbage) on the sidewalk (that’s American for pavement) and I found myself sliding on a slice of pizza (that’s Italian for frisbee). Luckily I managed to recover myself, but not before feeling something strain in the groin area which really shouldn’t strain.  When the herd of gazelles had passed we continued our journey, albeit a little slower. I have to say that I think this is the first running/pizza related injury that I know of.   This could be the end of my triathlon career. Oh well. Pizza anyone?

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