Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blasting Through the Wall

I ran 21 miles today. It was the farthest I’d run in over 4 years. I know, that’s not very reassuring coming from someone who writes a running blog.

I never said I was a great runner.

I know some (most?) of you are thinking, “what are you talking about whacko? Even thinking about that distance would kill me.” I guess I was talking to an imagined audience of elite world-class runners who frequent my blog.

So I guess to most of you, I just sound like a douche.

Hitting the wall is like dying, but oh wait you’re not dead.

I ran with my running cohort, Geoffrey. Because running that far alone is like sitting for three hours with your legs submerged in bees. At least this way, we both had our legs in bees…. But we could talk about women and how much they hate us and stuff! “My legs feel like fire. So anyway, about last night…”

While we were running, I asked Geoffrey what it would feel like to hit the wall. He said my legs would suddenly get very very heavy. I thought he meant it would suddenly feel like someone tied two anvils to my ankles. Like in those movies when Italian mobsters drown you in a river. I guess I pictured getting drowned. In a river. With anvils on my feet.

It’s not quite how it felt.

Considering I’d run a half-marathon just three days ago, I felt surprisingly good this morning. I mean, I was mildly enraged at having to set my alarm clock for ass o’clock on a Sunday morning. But once we got going, I felt like a chickadee, happily flapping its wings in the morning breeze.

As we approached mile 15, I started to think, “geez, I could do this forever!” Maybe my body burns brain cells instead of fat. But then at about halfway through the 16th mile, I was pulverized by about two months worth of pain all at once. My body just suddenly started saying, “ow ouch ow asshole ouch I hate you ow ouch.”

I didn’t realize this was my personal version of the wall. I’m used to pain. Running is like volunteering to be tortured every day for no reason. “I don’t have any useful information, but could you please torture me anyway? K thnx.” But today I felt like the torturer suddenly decided, “waaaait a minute, maybe he does know something. Let’s dial up the torturousness just for shits.”

These beautiful puffy clouds mock my pain.

About this time Geoffrey had to slow down a bit. I think his heart rate was so high that it required booster rockets to stay aloft. He felt bad for slowing our pace, but considering that a swarm of angry squirrels were repeatedly stabbing me in the legs, I was totally OK to slow down.

Any plans I’d had for running forever were dashed. The plan had been for exactly 20 miles, and I decided that that was a pretty ideal almost-but-not-quite-kill-me distance. But then at about 19 miles something bizarre happened.

All the pain just vanished.

Poof. It reminded me of reading about folks who freeze to death. First they hurt a LOT. But then at some point they actually feel awesome. In fact they get too hot, and start stripping off clothes. I was fairly certain that my legs had exploded, leaking gooey life out in puddles. I felt that my body had decided to let me exit the world with a modicum of happiness.

I felt so great, that when Geoffrey stopped at 20 miles, I kept going. I figured if I was going to keel over in the middle of the road, I would do so running. I even sped up, because I’m a jerkhole and really wanted to rub it in the face of whoever would take my spirit away.

I need to make an aside here. Apparently while he sat in the grass, Geoffrey put his shirt over his lap and unleashed just a massive torrent of piss. Apparently it leaked out into the street and almost caused a bicyclist to wipe out. “Holy f@#k where did that puddle come from?” I imagined it was the most orgasmic pee he’d had in his life.

Anyway, I picked up my pace and pounded out another mile. I felt like I’d only  just stepped out of the house. I was trying to decipher what cruel tricks my body was playing on me. Was my leg actually broken? Was I like one of those zombies on TV, dragging a severed ankle bone across the ground? What the hell? I didn’t question the fates.

I’ve broken my body plenty of times. It would have been nothing new.

By the time I finally decided to stop exacerbating my imagined injuries, I had run a perfect palindrome: 21.12 miles. And I felt awesome. Had I drank so much the previous day that my sweat was still alcoholic and had reabsorbed into my flesh and made me drunk again? Perhaps!

But we were done. It was our first 20 mile training run before the marathon. We have two more. Because training runs are designed to beat the shit out of you, giving you ample time to tearfully give up before you embarrass yourself at the actual race.

Geoffrey spent about 20 minutes in a blind rage. Apparently that’s normal for him and he kept reassuring me that he’d be fine soon. I encouraged him though, because that’s a thing I do when someone is grouchy. Actually, that reminds me of some of the things I had said to him during the run:

“Every massive breath you exhale kills half the butterflies in China.”

“The force of your powerful steps is sending shockwaves through the earth, creating massive earthquakes in Bangladesh that kill millions.”

“Children shit their pants in panic and terror in the wake of your ferocity.”

Yes, most of the things I tell him when we’re in the midst of conquering the wall are horrible and mostly offensive. I acknowledge this. But in those moments, the Pope himself could be in front of us and I’d say, “get out of our way old man!” I’d still have to high-five him though, because the Pope is awesome. Seriously though. Google that dude.

After we were done, we went to our favorite pub and had 2,000 calories of grease, starch, and beer. It was transcendent. I saw heaven in those moments.

Also the waitress was very sweet. We gave her like a 35% tip.

Survived to fight zombies another day.
Photo cr. Marc Ryan.

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