By Christopher Cudworth
I’m not much for the occult. Don’t believe in ghosts, zombies, goblins or the undead. It all seems fake to me.
But if I did believe in all that, the world really would be a scary place.
Because let’s face it, those of us who run and ride can wind up in some pretty remote places. And then all kinds of things might happen.
On dank October days the mist often forms in the valleys in our county. Even with lights on the front of our bikes it can be hard to see, and be seen. That would be a perfect time for Corn Zombies to emerge from the fields, knock us off our bikes with one fell swipe of a rotting hand, and feast on our bodies. All the authorities would find by the highway would be shredded, bloody kits and the scattered remnants of PowerBars and water bottles emptied of Accelerade. Even Zombies get thirsty you know.
Or let’s say you are out running at night and decide to add on a few miles because you’re feeling good. But then about halfway into your extra miles something strange occurs and you begin to feel the energy drain from your body. Spinning around to look behind you, there is a shadowy shape creeping along the fenceline of the suburban neighborhood where you are running. Tired as you are, you try to pick up the pace, but the harder you try, the less your legs seem to cooperate. The shadowy shape suddenly soars over the fence and descends on your body. A Soul Sucker has caught up to you, and as it presses you to the ground you feel the last ounce of breath squeezed from your chest as the Soul Sucker plunges its murky hand in to grab your heart from its bloody, beating spot between the lungs. And that is how the police find you the next morning. Nothing but a black, charred hole where your soul and heart once rested. Not wanting to upset the public, the official Death Notice reads: Ran his heart out. At that news, you become the Poster Child for the local high school cross country team.
Triathletes are at special risk when Halloween comes around. Off season training often involves considerable time indoors swimming, running on the treadmill and doing Computrainer workouts in the vain hope to keep that slim summer shape you worked hard to attain. As the days go by, you sense a presence at the gym and then one morning you enter the locker room to come face to face with a Workout Vampire. The androgynous figure stands naked before you, fangs exposed, before sinking its shining teeth into the base of your neck. A hot flash of excitement and adrenaline surges through your body as the Workout Vampire sucks the precious blood from your veins. You can remember feeling like this somewhere around the 16 mile point of the marathon in your last Ironman, so you fight through the feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. But it’s no use. The Workout Vampire has drained every ounce of blood from your body and left you naked and withered on the locker room floor. Still, you want to finish your workout as all triathletes do. So you climb onto the treadmill for another four miles even though you are officially, legally and spiritually dead. But Strava doesn’t register your effort because you don’t give off enough heat to count as a human being.
Yes, Halloween be a scary time for all of us who work out this time of year. And while we don’t all go for the spooky stuff or believe in werewolves, it’s good to be careful out there. Staying in shape is hard enough without fighting the undead and the macabre.
But most of all, watch out for tarsnakes. They don’t care what season it is. And they’re always after you.