From the Archives: High Maintenance


[All I can say is that when I wrote this seven years ago, I had NO IDEA what “high maintenance” really was. Looking back now, I marvel at how easy everything seemed to be when I was “only” fifty. Originally published June 25, 2008.]

Last year, our nine-year-old car was having some issues and Ann suggested that maybe it was time to let it go to Honda heaven. I disagreed, arguing that even though it had become a “high-maintenance” vehicle, requiring thousands of dollars a year in parts and repairs, it still had a lot of good miles left in it. After all, the car still gets us where we need to go — albeit, with a few more creaks and groans along the way.

Am I being sentimental? Probably. After all, I have more sympathy for the condition of my car since I, too, have become something of a high-maintenance vehicle. The days of care-free transportation to wherever I wanted to go are over. Now, every time I think about venturing forth, I have to check all the instruments, listen to and evaluate a number of strange sounds and sensations, and consider whether I want to be stuck miles from home standing by the side of the road waiting for AAA.

It’s too bad, because I’ve always taken pride in keeping the old machine humming along through my own preventative care, without needing to make frequent visits to the mechanic. Now, I’m all too ready to seek advice and presumptive remedies from anyone who’ll listen. If there were a “Car Talk” for runners, I’d be calling Click and Clack every week, trying to describe the latest idiosyncrasies afflicting my running.

I used to be the guy with the new car in the driveway; now I’m the annoying neighbor who has a worn-out junker on blocks in the backyard, surrounded by engine parts. How did this happen?

And yet, just like the guy who comes home after work to spend another couple of hours trying to get his old Pontiac to run again, I am not without hope. In my mind, I still imagine harnessing a powerful internal combustion engine to cruise up and down the boulevards with a kind of controlled fury, inspiring admiration and envy. All I need is a new carburetor and spark plugs, adjust the timing, save up for some new wheels…

The male mid-life crisis often expresses itself as a desire for a hotter car (or a younger mate). For me, those temptations have little hold on my imagination. But that far-away look in my eyes, that distracted mood that strikes from time to time, that’s me thinking about running really fast again, without having to wonder about worrisome new noises, odd smells, and unhealthy vibrations every time I pull out of the driveway.

In the mean time, I’ll keep tinkering.

Being “high-maintenance” is still better than being scrap metal.

About Jon Waldron

Running and Racing have been important parts of my life for as long as I can remember. I ran Track and Cross Country at Amherst HS, back in the day, and am proud to have been training and competing with the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) for more than thirty years. If my bones hold out, I hope to continue for another thirty. Sixteen years ago, I began coaching, first as an Asst. Coach at Newton North HS in Newton, MA, and for the past ten years, as Head Track and Cross Country Coach at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. I've been writing about running for almost as long as I've been running, dating back to high school, when I would write meet summaries for the Amherst Record for about $0.33 per column inch. I've been blogging about running since 2005, and began blogging at "the runner eclectic" in 2014. Until recently I also had a day job, working full-time as a Technical Product Manager for Nuance Communications, based in Burlington, MA. But I am now on what might turn out to be a permanent sabbatical. Thank you for reading my blog, and please consider leaving a comment.
This entry was posted in Attempts at Humor, Injuries & Health. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to From the Archives: High Maintenance

  1. Mike Glennon says:

    Nice leg on the 4×4 last night. Didn’t look like scrap metal at all.

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