They said – Vega was born to run. She got better with every run. She ran like the wind . She ran everyday. She was poised looking. She had the looks. She could have runner men swooning over her with just a smile. Vega was tough too. Within a few years of running, she had conquered the running scene locally. “She ran all types of distances, effortlessly”, they said.
Mostly in a mix of awe and envy, most women runners waited for Vega to get injured. They all groused, ‘she is running too much too soon, she will be injured – mark my words – things don’t stay so rosy for a runner forever. Every runner must go through the cycle of a forced injury if she is not sensible enough to stop herself.”
But things really did stay rosy for Vega. 4 years had gone by and Vega never got injured enough to take a break from running. She was actually very excited these days. Having gotten her French visa to run the UTMB she was now ready to go take her love for running internationally.
There was Vega. There was running. And then there was something Vega was hooked to. As Vega’s fingers reached for the 20th cigarette of the day, she was aware how badly she was addicted to smoking. Smoking while running too. It all started at work. As the men went out to take their “sutta” breaks, Vega agreed to it too. Not easy to be the perfect employee, great runner, a good mother. Gradually she had gotten used to this additional fix to keep fixing other things in life.
For a long time Vega had managed to hide her smoking while running from the running community. She did. She knew it was wrong. She knew that exercise and smoking didn’t mix at all. Smoking was her addiction. Running was Vega’s religion – she told everyone. How could she claim that she was flavoring her religion with such toxicity? And then – it happened. In one of the ultra runs, she was seen smoking by a bunch of runners and then waves of information went far and wide.
Vega was a strong girl. As the waves of her doings touched her, she didn’t seem to care. “Finally they have something to talk about me. Yes I smoke, I live on coffee and muffins. So???? Go on , judge me!!! But I tell you what – I still stay a runner – one of a kind! Am not injured, am not slow! Nobody has scaled up the way I have. Beat that!”
There was no wake up call for Vega. Not her son. Not her daughter. Not her doting husband. Not even the news of a distant relative dying of lung cancer.
She had disillusioned herself into believing that tobacco was giving her the much needed energy to run better and faster. Nicotine killed her appetite and kept her slim. She talked herself into saying that Running was keeping her healthy. Her blood tests showed a high hemoglobin. In reality it was higher level of damaged hemoglobin, typical with smokers.
Vega knew what nicotine was doing to her. She was overwhelmed at the thought of how the lack of nicotine would be for her. Infact she was on the lookout of getting hold of stuff that could help her run even better. She was OK with ways to become a better runner. Better Runner? Vega wanted to shine. Because that’s what her name meant – one of the five brightest stars in the night sky.
Vega didn’t believe in happy endings. Only delusional, happy ‘nows’. Half blind, half drowned, for now, she wanted to shine in her own smoke.
How many Vegas do you know?
Featured Image by Gijs Coolen from Unsplash.com.