Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lake Effect Half Marathon

On Sunday, February 26, I ran the Lake Effect Half Marathon in Liverpool, NY. I signed up for the race - and for the Syracuse Half which is next month - for a specific reason. You're going to think I lost my mind.

I won't argue that.

Last year's Syracuse Half was an apocalypse of snow and ice. There was so much snow you couldn't see an inch in front of your face. Also your eyeballs froze. The world was covered in ice, like Arnold Schwarzenneger in that terrible Batman movie, but with less villainy. Unless you consider mother nature a villain. It sure felt that way on that day!

Many of the folks couldn't even make it to the race. The highway was an ice skating rink, but with none of the fun. Just a heart-gripping terror. Those who made it to the race weren't much better off. I watched video clips of the race, and it was mostly a white screen with an occasional splash of color, looking miserable.

Imagine this with ten thousand times more snow.

I was jealous!

Do you think I'm crazy yet? I wanted to run in that disgusting wintry disaster! I wanted to be smashed with hail and caked with an inch of ice and snow. I wanted my beard to look like it had been transplanted from a yeti. I wanted to run on a road that, despite having been plowed an hour previously, was already a snowbank.

So I signed up for two winter halves this year, hoping that at least one would try to murder me with arctic vengeance. Lake Effect Half was cold, and windy, but not excessively so. I was briefly coated in snow, but for the most part the sun was out. The course was an out-and-back, twice, so I did get to enjoy alternately sweating and freezing depending on the direction. But the race was, well... pleasant!

I'm not disappointed though. It was a great race, and I got to run it with some amazing folks. So let's start over.

I left home about 7. As I pulled out of the driveway, my neighbor ran over to me. My windows were frozen shut, so I had to open the passenger door. He needed a jump-start. I stopped next to his car, popped the hood, and got out of my car.

I forgot I was wearing my running kilt.

Kilt: Appropriate for all weather conditions.

To his credit he didn't remark on it. His car wouldn't start right away, so he started yanking wires out of things, which seemed questionable to me. I was hoping he knew what he was doing. Finally the car started. Nothing exploded. I left.

I picked David up at his brand new house. It's a very nice house but I don't think it's relevant to this tale. I guess jump-starting cars wasn't relevant either. Suffer my whimsy! We drove to Syracuse. We had some deeply meaningful conversations, and I don't remember any of them. We got to Onondaga Lake Park, got out of the car, and realized it was cold. It had been about 60 for the three days prior.

We saw Todd, the race coordinator and fellow LUNAR. I had actually seen him the day before, when I went to pick up my race packet. He recognized me as the guy who runs in a kilt. When I die, I'll have to make sure my gravestone is plaid. On the way back from that excursion, I got caught in a cataclysmic rain storm and almost died. I saw another car smash into a guardrail on the highway, which was really exciting.

David and I peed a lot, loitered, and waited for all the rest of the LUNAR folks running the race to arrive. It was a large and attractive bunch! Lois, Curt, Jeff, Chris, Michael, Sue, Steve, Charli, and a couple others I can't recall because I'm a terrible person. A rib crushing number of hugs were exchanged.

Attractive bunch!

I jogged a couple miles before the race, and then waded into the large crowd of runners at the starting line. I insisted on a selfie with all the LUNARs because I'm lonely and want to look like I have friends. Then we were off!

Michael and I ended up running at the same pace, and stayed together for the first 10 miles. We had some interesting conversations, which, as usual, I don't remember at all. But they were edifying! I'm certain. There were a few individuals we made note of as we ran. The ultra-fast runner in first, the lead biker in the yeti costume (really), the lady in front of us with the nice butt who looked like she was on a leisurely walk but was super fast, a guy we passed several times who was just.... HUGE. I kept yelling things at him like "DIESEL", but he had headphones in. And of course the other LUNARs, who all looked like superheroes.


The course went out a little over 3 miles, and then back, and then out again, and then back. On the way out there was a headwind that froze us to the bone. On the way back we would broil alive and strip off clothes like teenagers in a motel on prom night. And of course our paces were all over the place, so after a while we thought, "whatever, let's just not die."

Running along the lake was beautiful, and running with Michael made the miles fly by. He told me to go on ahead after the last turnaround so I finished a couple of minutes ahead of him. The yeti on the bike was impressed with my kilt, and threw chocolate at me. The spectators were great, and the other runners were pretty cheerful. In no time at all I was across the finish line.
Not sure how Michael tolerated my absurdity for so long!

I finished a little over 1:42. Not super fast, but considering all my cross-training and horrible maladies in the past couple months, it wasn't bad!

I immediately turned around and jogged out until I spotted Lois. Then I ran with her for the last mile and a half of her race. She took a brief walk break at one point and told me to go on ahead. "Where would I go? I'm already done!" I laughed. We entertained one another until she finished. I was impressed with her, and all the LUNARs, running on that cold windy day. Unlike me, she doesn't actually like icky weather.

Altogether I ran 18 miles Sunday. I felt good afterwards, although my body has been a disaster since. We went to lunch together at Peppino's, an awesome pizza place. We talked about snot cannons and other stupid things and had a great time, pigging out. I love how easily we all connect with one another, even though we only hang out a couple times a year. LUNARs are amazing and loving folks, passionate not just for running, but in all things in life. It's hard to find such great camaraderie and positivity elsewhere.

Lovely LUNARs!

David and I had some wholly inappropriate conversations on the drive back, most of which I do actually remember, but I can't share here. Something to do with the 5th amendment. After I got home, I reverted to my natural state, a bloated lethargic blob. It was luxurious.

I'm looking forward to Syracuse next month, and to meeting even more LUNARs! And I'm crossing my fingers that on the day of the race, the Earth will reorient itself and the north pole will move to Syracuse, NY, dumping an appropriate amount of frozen destruction upon our heads as we run!

Until then!

I was thinking about not ending the
post with a selfie. Fail.

Lake Effect photos thanks to Paciorek Orthodontics and volunteer photographers.

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