Contributor: Citwit Muneeb Ansari
I’m typing this with an icepack under my foot and the all-too-familiar acceptance that I have plantar fasciitis. This is not my first lower leg injury and, as a distance runner, it won’t be my last. Taking this day off to eat garbage and not shower (because if we didn’t run, would we ever shower?) got me thinking about my injury before plantar. The entire 2018 track season, I was blessed with two cases of Achilles tendonitis. For those wondering, one case was on my right Achilles and the other was on my left Achilles.
The Achilles injury was rough. An aspiring sub 17:00 5k’er, I needed to take the mileage way up. But, despite the icing and compression socks and calf raises, my Achilles would tighten half a mile into my run and force me to walk/cry/limp home and be sad. This injury carried itself from December to May, overlapping with Spring break.
Sitting at my grandma’s house with 13 cousins ranging from like 1 (I think?) to 21, we decided to watch Cars 3 on a Netflix Account owned by a friend of a husband of a friend who my aunt used to see often.
Here’s the jist:
DO. NOT. WATCH. CARS. 3. IF. YOU. ARE. INJURED.
I get why people like Disney movies. You get to pretend to like reliving your childhood days when you could barely read, and your parents drove you home while you slept in the backseat. Girls think you’re sensitive because you’re watching a cartoon that doesn’t come on exclusively past 10 p.m.. It’s quality animation. Later on, you can watch those YouTube videos with all the Easter eggs you missed. A well-received Disney movie is followed by a batch of fresh meme formats.
But if Cars 3 is on your “put this on so babysitting the neighbors is easy” list, watch it in the middle of your peak mileage week.
There are spoilers ahead, but don’t act like you care.
The movie starts out with our hero, Lightning McQueen losing to a more technologically advanced racer, Jackson Storm. Storm keeps beating all the old timers so much that #95’s friend, Cal Weathers, retires.
Jackson is cocky in his own quiet, professional way. Lightning is hell-bent heck-bent on beating Jackson Storm at their next encounter. But, Lightning goes too hard during a race and blows a tire in the kind of car crash that makes NASCAR worth watching. Lightning is sent to Radiator Springs to recover for four months.
Promising himself that “I decide when I’m done,” Lightning spends the rest of the movie trying to get back into shape using high tech treadmills, a device to track speed and vital signs *cough* Garmin Forerunner 645 *cough* and simulators.
Pressured by his sponsor and friends to retire, any injured runner can see themselves in Lightning’s shoes (tires?). He weighs the pros and cons of being a coach, retiring as he flops in workout after workout around the PIXAR desert. In the end, #95 takes after his coach, Doc Hudson, and finds joy in racing by living vicariously through his successful training partner and coach, Cruz.
The movie is about an injured racer who ultimately realizes it is his time to retire. It is not the best thing for a dramatic, overly analytical, injured athlete to watch, but there’s a few moments of wisdom.
Smokey, the classic ‘wise and weathered guru’ trope of the Cars world, tells Lightning: “You’ll never be the racer you once were! You can’t turn back the clock, kid… but you can wind it up again”.
Seeing the existential crisis we all know as aging through the lens of running, racing, and PIXAR seems to make it a more tangible and hopeful subject. For that reason, the athlete who thinks they are dying young may or may not benefit from watching Cars 3. Most likely not. So, when you’re injured and it’s family movie night, leave Cars 3 for another day. The Dark Knight gets better the eighth time you watch it.