Monday, August 21, 2006

Running On Empty

People often assume that my husband is competitive because of his running. when asked about it, I usually reply that he isn't really; sure, he prefers a good race over a bad one, but his satisfaction from racing usually comes from besting or matching his own previous race time.
In the running world, if you knock 30 seconds off your best time ever for a particular race or a specific distance, you say that you've set a new PR or personal record.
Runners like to talk about their various PRs ad nauseam, adjust them according to age as in "my best five-mile PR since I turned 40" or date them, "my five-mile PR for this year," runners have even been know to take a particularly good PR and use it as their ATM password; and why not? it's as good as Bosco.
But getting back to my original premise, I don't think Ken's particularly competitive, except, that is, when we're on a road trip and he wants to see how far we can make it on one tank of gas.
Me on the other hand, I'm the opposite. I'll drive around town on empty for days, knowing that if I do run out of gas I'm probably less than a mile from a gas station or from home. On the highway however, I prefer to fill up every time I stop at a rest area in order to ensure that I won't have to get off the highway, and risk getting lost, just to find a gas station.
Strangely though, I'm never driving on long car trips when we're getting low on gas.
I should mention for the record, that prior to this weekend our PR for one tank of gas in the Subaru was 388 miles. This PR was set last year during a weekend trip to Vermont. I know this because the PR information is carefully tucked away in the glove compartment with other vital vehicle paperwork, should we ever be pulled over by the police and queried: "license, registration and current PR, please."
Unlike me, my husband is happy to tool along the highway on empty for miles as long as the gas light isn't on, talking about the new PR. He'll point to the trip odometer and announce, "look, we've gone 382 miles and the light's not even on yet." Of course the light finally does come on and then it's a mad, nail-biting dash to find a gas station.
Sometimes finding a gas station off the highway isn't even enough. Sometimes he wants to press on if the price of gas seems to high. "I think we can do better," he says as we drive further and further from the highway and I picture myself in the car, in the dark, on a deserted side street with the kids, while he's off walking to a gas station.
This weekend we drove to Maine.
"Seven hundred miles on two tanks of gas," my husband beamed as we pulled into our driveway last night.
"That's great," I said.
"I don't think you're impressed," he said.
"No, I am, and in fact I'm going to put it on the blog," I said. "Put in on the blog" has become my new idle treat.
I'm happy to report that we set a new PR of 406.9 miles on one tank of gas. The goal was merely to break the record by reaching 400, so that means there were 6.9 miles of panic while we blindly searched exit 22 off 128 for a gas station, but I have a feeling that this record will stand for quite some time.

song: Running On Empty • artist: Jackson Browne

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