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Chip Morton's Journal

My Runner's Keeper

My Runner's Keeper



“C’mon, wakey wakey!” the voice practically boomed in my ear, followed by a bit of shoulder shoving.

“Hey!” I managed to respond, bleary eyed and almost too hung-over from the first night back from Seaview’s latest cruise to recognize the voice of my intruder. “What do you want?”

“You’re my trainer for the Santa Barbara Marathon, remember?”

 “Go away.”

 The fact that I didn’t seem to mind that my apartment had been broken into, if only by someone who had a spare key, was beside the point. All I wanted were some more zzz’s.

 “You promised to be my trainer, remember. It’s 0500 already.”

“Oh for Pete’s sake. Let me sleep in already.”

“You get up at this time aboard Seaview, give or take your watch.”

“This isn’t the damn boat!  Use somebody else and let me go back to sleep.”

“Can’t,” he said morosely.

“There’ over 123 men from Seaview, not to mention the entire staff of the institute that you can pester.”

“But only you won’t  get all wimpy if I get whiney about it being too hard to continue or that I need a doughnut or something.”

Damn. He was giving me that look again. The one Lola calls his Labradoodle* look aka wounded and /or wet puppy look.

“Lee,” I warned.

“ I’ll come in last otherwise,” he pouted.

“You work  out in the gym aboard Seaview every day, and you jog around NIMR when we’re ashore, or at least not traipsing through the jungle somewhere for ONI”

“Don’t forget Siberia or the Sahara or...”

“Lee Crane,” I interrupted, this was getting ridiculous, “ that’s beside the point! You’re one of the fittest guys I know except for being a bit underweight! You don’t need a trainer!”

“It’s not the same for a marathon and you know it.  Chip…I’m starting to feel old….  I doubt I can even run five miles without breaking a sweat anymore.”
“So go get some vitamins from Doc if you think you’re not up to it.”

“Chip, please. Besides, it’ll be good for your reputation. I mean…there’s nobody mouthier than you.”

Mouthier?” I feigned insult. Nothing like making him feel bad to make him leave. Even if I was pretty good at chewing out some miscreant crewmen.

 “Well, If you want me to come in last…”

For a moment he just stood there looking pathetic.

Be strong Morton,  I ordered myself. Be strong.

Finally he sighed, over exaggerating it a bit, then walked  away, closing  the bedroom door behind him. At last!  I could go back to bed. But it was no use. The guilt he’d created was overwhelming. Not that I believed for a moment that he couldn’t at least finish the marathon without coming in last. Okay, make that maybe, sort of. We’re sub drivers not athletes.


It was his misplaced if woebegone belief that he needed someone to urge him on. Help him with the discipline of pacing himself on the run, and strengthening muscle tone needed for such a task. Someone he trusted implicitly not to let him down. Me.

Rising from my bed, I tossed the covers back and raced through the doors, yelling with all my might so that he’d hear me down the block, “Lee! Lee, wait!” only to find him  perking some coffee in my kitchen.

“You bellowed?” he smirked, pouring some flavored cream into my coffee mug.

“You sneak!” I yelled. “You make me feel as guilty as hell, and all the while you assume I’ll just do as you ask!”

“That’s what friends are for…” he said as he picked  up a chocolate brownie from a foil package and bit into it, chewing delightedly.


Couldn’t be Edith’s….maybe Lola’s? No, she didn’t do that well in the kitchen.

“Angie?” I asked.



A negative shake of his head.


“On shore leave.”

“Who’s?” I pleaded.

“Mom’s…got it yesterday as soon as I got home. Came Fed Ex overnight…all for me. Unless…”

 “You play dirty Lee Crane.”



And so I’ve become Lee’s trainer for the run. Oh we have a few months. But most of our time we’ll be aboard Seaview.  The crew will just have to get used to his grumbling when I’ll make him do ‘just one more’ round on the treadmill, and tell him ‘pace yourself, Lee, pace yourself’ and the inevitable ‘faster, slower, faster, slower’, ‘No, you can’t have that extra (and freshly made doughnut) from the galley’, ‘one more time up and down the spiral ladder’,’ more abdominal crunches’, ‘more leg lifts’, and demanding he run up and down  the length of Seaview, ‘more, more, more…’


For now, however,  I’ve secured permission from the Country Club’s golf course for a special T- time, training time that is. Lee will run the course so I can test his endurance, all the while I can put in a few puts here and there, then I’ll catch up with him from  the golf cart and yell at him, especially as the ladies sure to be on the course will wink at the two of us as we pass by, correction, as Lee runs by and I stop to chat.


So perhaps I shouldn’t have been so against becoming Lee’s trainer after all. It certainly has a few advantages other than his Mom’s homemade brownies.

* Labradoodle is a recognised cross between a Labrador and a Poodle.