Dr.J. on Running



Author on Ego Trip

Published February 4, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Two hundred fifty columns ago, I lived in anonymity in a small town with no running water or sewers, no stop lights or police. I ran. I ate. I worked. I slept.

Then my life changed. People looked at me. Strangers smiled to me on the street. Runners lined up next to me at road races. Acquaintances talked to me as if I had some secret. My running friends turned cautious in conversations.

My family noticed my changed disposition, but I ignored it. I was still the immigrant who lived through the sweat of his face, the runner who rejoiced in a post-race non-fat cappuccino with amaretto, the driver who stopped at every red light, the parent who took his children to the dentist, and the husband who bought his wife flowers every Tuesday.

One day, quite by accident, I discovered what had happened to my family. It was the day a young man delivered flowers for my daughter's birthday. When she opened the door, the he stood there, frozen in space. "Hey," he stammered. "Is your dad the guy who writes that running column? I read it all the time. So this is where he lives."

I heard all about it that night. "Even at home," she lamented, "we cannot escape being related to you. I mean, the guy was bringing flowers for me, on my birthday, but all he asked was about you! Should I have given him a tip?"

According to my family, I exploited my fame at their expense. Readers recognized me from my picture. They eagerly waited for my pithy and wise remarks on Monday mornings. I turned down offers of corporate endorsement and limo rides to the finish line. My family suffered in my stretching shadow. Their successes in sports and in school paled next to the accolades from my readers.

Suddenly, the clouds lifted and the mystery unfolded. I could no longer escape the truth. To those closest to me, I had contracted a condition worse than halitosis. I had achieved fame. In panic, I prepared my defense.

Obviously, my running column had made me a celebrity, and my family was jealous. Yet, they had no idea of the burden I carried or its effects on my quiet life. I could no longer remain an anonymous professor, a resilient engineer, an underrated father, a flashy dresser, a narrow-minded conservative and a social outcast.

Believe me, it is not easy being me. Through heat or cold, Internet downtime or power outages, I must keep a weekly appointment with my keyboard. People watch what I eat and how I dress. Men admire my running ties and dressy running shoes. Women celebrate my contributions to their cause. Dogs fear me. Neighbors wonder about me. My family loves me.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Syracuse Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.