Sunday, August 16, 2015

I Had an Awful Race (and That’s OK)

If I had written this a few hours ago, I would have left out the parenthesized part.

But then I got SUPER drunk on wine.

And now I feel amazing.

Wine makes life super good.

I was actually really excited for this half-marathon. I was sure I would set a PR (a personal record, for those of you who don’t actually run but read my blog and quietly seethe in anger). I saw that it was going to be hot and humid this morning and thought, “whatever, I’m going to kick this race in the balls.”

Balls were kicked, but they were mine.

Pixie and I got up at 6am. I’m not sure why but she wanted to come with me to the race, which was an hour away. I think I made a vague suggestion that it would take me “only” an hour and a half to run it. I may have overlooked the fact that I get to my races an hour early so that I can get my bib, take a bunch of shits, warm up, and then loiter so that all the fat runners can gawk at my abs.

I’m a douchehole.

When we got there, Pixie suddenly discovered that she would have to wander around aimlessly for two a half hours. Running isn’t exactly a spectator sport. She can watch me be a douche pre-run, and then she can watch me cross the finish line, near the point of death (with my unflexed gut swinging around like a half full sack of shit).

But Pixie has infinite patience when it comes to my bizarre self-hating hobby. She went into the trees and shared magical recipes with the other woodland creatures. Or something to that effect.

I was running the race with my regular companion in insanity and running, Geoffrey, as well as his daughter. She must have inherited some of the craziness. I hear it’s genetic.

Geoffrey had told me that a celebrity runner would be at the race, Shawn Mastrantonio. He and Geoffrey are a part of the L.U.N.A.R running group, which I had only recently joined. I could say that he is fast and badass, but you’d say, “whatever, all of you jerks are faster than me.” BUT, let me clinch the deal with this. Shawn had a heart attack just four months ago. And ran the half marathon with us. In fact, he had his first run only 13 days after his heart attack. So if I complain about my toes being sore, fee free to call me a whiny bitch. I didn’t see him before the race, but that’s likely because he had yet to arrive on his mystical chariot.

The beginning of the race was great. I started out way too fast as usual, stupidly assuming I could maintain the pace forever. It was shady and cool, despite the humidity. After the first mile, folks started passing me, but I figured I would heroically overcome them later. I was a whole lot of wrong.

Just past three miles, we hit an uphill stretch that lasted all the way through the turn-around (the race was an out and back). I actually blasted up the hill at a decent clip. And I figured once we turned around, I would FLY down the hill, like a cheetah with nitro in its ass. And then the many many folks who had casually run past me would rue the day that they crossed paths with me.

I hit the top. I was like, “all right! Time to nuke the shit out of this damn race!” But a funny thing happened. I didn’t go any faster. I thought, “um, legs? What’s going on? Why aren’t you doing that thing you do?” And my legs said, “f*#k you guy. We’ve carried you this long and you just keep punishing us. We’re going on vacation.”

I maintained my pace, but definitely wasn’t “nuking the shit out of the race.” I passed Geoffrey after a little while as I was heading down and he was heading up. He said, “look who’s right ahead of you!” It was Shawn. I thought, perfect! Someone to motivate me to run faster.

Apparently I was that motivation for everyone else, because I was being passed a lot. I started to get a sinking feeling in my stomach that this race was going to suck. I hadn’t rested at all pre-race. I ran 5 miles yesterday, 8 on Friday, 9 on Thursday. I mean, technically that’s a taper. But my body would have much preferred several days on the couch with ice cream and beer. I can’t blame it.

Around 9 miles I realized that I definitely would not hit a second wind. I figured I would just hold steady at my 172 heart rate. Then the sun came out. The sun said, “oh, did you forget that today is hot and humid? Enjoy running in a sauna, you slimy bastard.” At mile 11 it suddenly got really hard to run. My scalp started to tingle. Random jets of flame erupted from by body, scorching nearby squirrels.

I really wanted to stop and walk.  Only my deep and thorough experience in self-induced suffering kept me going.  I was lying to myself and saying the finish was just around the next bend. Visions of watermelon and beer danced in my blurry vision. I was pretty sure I was going to finish dead last. But even that would have been an achievement. A man who had had a freaking heart attack less than a month prior had already crossed the finish and was cheering everyone else on.

I stumbled across the finish. There’s no glorious tale to tell here. They said my name, making it sound like I wasn’t a worthless piece of trash. Which is what I felt like. I was in full-on self-hate mode. I wanted someone to come up and say, “could you have run that any slower? Holy hell my grandma walks to the mailbox faster, and she has 3 false hips.” But everyone is super nice at races, which is great if you’re having a good day and mildly infuriating if you are in the mood to have people punch you in the face repeatedly.

Pixie was waiting for me. Just seeing her reminded me that grease and alcohol was in my very near future. My mood immediately elevated. Then I remembered I was done running. Definitely for the day, but maybe forever (I wish). I started to feel kinda OK. My brain was working overtime to destroy the memory of the run. My legs were making sure I’d remember what I’d just done, but my brain was like, “beer! Food! Wine! All of the wine! More food! More wine! You’re going to drown in gluttony!”

Gluttony. And this view.
Geoffrey introduced me to Shawn. He is a super cool guy, made of lightning and muscle. He made it sound like having a heart attack was like tweaking your knee. If I ever had one, I would probably handle it with less aplomb. In fact, considering how much of a sore whiner I was with my race performance, I’d say it’s a given that a heart attack would kill me. Just put me in the woods so the bears can eat me. But meeting Shawn was super cool and made the day much more worth it.

Then Pixie I ate went to an awesome food place. And then an awesome wine place. And then another awesome wine place, and then an awesome beer place. And then another awesome wine place. And then one last awesome beer place. And then we got ice cream.

Life is now AMAZING.

Maybe Pixie doesn’t quite get why I do what I do. But the post-run celebration was the most amazing adventure we’d had together in quite a while, and that made it wholly worth it. We were like a brand new couple, bathing one another in kisses and wine. People around us threw us death glares, but I just said, “f*&k you, my life right now is wine and making out.”

Also I was wearing a kilt. And my balls were flapping free, enjoying the breeze. Perhaps the death glares were a result of errant flappings. But if I can survive 13 miles of brutality, you can survive half a second of my salt-rimed sack.

Life is a mystery.

A beautiful mystery.
Photo Cr. Pixie

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