This has happened more times than I care to admit, but most recently during my long run yesterday morning. Though I was aiming to hit a total of 14 miles for the day, I wanted to make it a point to note my time at the half-marathon mark (13.1 miles) because I was pretty sure I was on a personal best pace for that distance. When I hit mile 9, I knew I was exactly six miles away from home.
That's where things started getting fuzzy.
Now, I have a copious amount of training when it comes to calculating math problems, including but not limited to: balancing my checkbook enough to know I probably shouldn't have written that last check, figuring the discount on a sale item at the store in anticipation of learning I can't afford to NOT buy it, deducting the amount of tip my waitress will receive every time she forgets to refill my drink, multiplying how many servings of miniature candy bars are in a bag to make sure there's enough to supply the appropriate sugar high for my daughter's school class for her birthday, adding up how much money we don't have for retirement, giving the cashier the right amount of money to ensure I get back the least amount of pocket change, computing my next paycheck to make sure I'm not getting shorted (again), multiplying how many cups of flour would go in a cookie recipe if I'm doubling it, etc. and so on. The list is endless, really. It should be obvious by now I'm a veritable mathematic genius.
Why then, at mile 9, could I not wrap my head around the fact 9+3=12 and not 13?
I don't seem to have trouble with any other intellectual endeavors during long runs. I never end my sentences with prepositions; I wouldn't dare mix acid with cyanide salt; I don't embarrass myself in the company of French-speaking dignitaries by asking to ride a poulet instead of a cheval; I wouldn't be caught dead confusing the Spanish-American War with the Mexican-American War and I sure as hell don't use "there", "their" or "they're" incorrectly.
But add 9+3? Apparently, that stumps me.
I did eventually figure out that 9+3 does not equal 13 and never will, but only when I actually looked at the numbers on my GPS screen and realized I still had more than a mile to run.
I've learned my lesson, however. In the future, I've pledged to consciously prohibit myself from doing any kind of math whatsoever while on the run.
No more calculating how many spoonfuls of Moose-Tracks ice cream I can eat after my run without feeling guilty. No more contemplating how many children we should have before we can't feed them anymore. No more adding up how many miles are between God-forsaken Idaho and the white sandy beaches of Montego Bay. No more dividing my late-grandmother's inheritance to determine if my share will cover the cost of a new big screen LCD TV with a surround-sound stereo system in the finished basement.
And definitely no more adding up how many miles I have left to run.
Better just to be left in painful mathematical ignorance.