Sunday, June 22, 2008

the waking is the hardest part ...

in the days leading up to the half-marathon, i began thinking of it as a parade. that helped a little. so did considering the time element: the equivilent of giving the songs "true faith" and "bizarre love triangle" by new order 13 consecutive listens, which is easy peasy and probably how i spent a few weekends in 1994.

i was honestly a little nervous.
"nervous?" ma pista said. "you don't get nervous."
true. but i don't usually wake up at 4 a.m. for a parade, either.

typically, 4 a.m. finds me peeing, brushing my teeth and barricading the bedroom door to keep out the 30 pound, rat-faced, 12 mile and hour headbutting feline -- not encasing my bosom in a sports bra and cramming a banana in my face. i got a smart email from an athlete in colorado who certainly recognized my plight and offered great wisdom:

I recommend at least one drink Friday night so you can get to sleep before midnight and aren't even more cranky at 5:30am on Saturday when you're waiting to ride a school bus filled with guys in short-shorts slathered in Vaseline.

Also, that ticket you get at the end of the race is good for either a cup of Arco coffee, a Coke or a Miller Lite. That's a pretty easy choice.

Finally, you can probably trade your t-shirt and cheesy-ass finisher's medal with an agreeable bartender for a pitcher of beer or two. Successful at both Quinlan's and at the Red Lion.


i wouldn't say i trained, so much as i ran sometimes. deep in the winter, i'd been running about five days a week. and when the start-training date approached, i melded two different workout guides into one and followed it pretty well for about three weeks.

then i got bored.
then homegrown week happened.
and pretty soon i spent more time feeling guilty about not running than actually running. it was like prepping for the ACT and my senior project in college all over again. i have my own mausoleum for the big ideas that have gone pastey, coughed weakly, then quietly expired.

my friend blitz was training. real training, not just rearranging the songs on his running mix and then yawning and reading gawker. i ran into him two weeks ago and he was limping. so was i.

"i did my long run today," he said. "11 miles."
"me too," i said. "five."

my landlord called me pathetic and said i should write my own "how not to prepare for a half-marathon" guide.


let's just say that picking up my race packet was a lesson in humility. i felt like shrek stomping around during miss minnesota's swim suit competition.


i put myself to bed at midnight. i'd opted to not follow the beer advice, since i've never had just one beer in my life. chuck, who also struggles with being awake before 10 a.m., went to bed, too. we layed there watching journeyman on his laptop, me with my eyes closed. i was hoping for something like a nap.

that never happened.

i got out of bed at 3:45 a.m., showered, drank coffee, changed my shirt three times and had some deep thoughts about shorts with built-in underware.

i met up with blitz and jcat and we got on a bus bound for the deep woods.


first gross runner's thing i did? the bus had a bathroom, and i knew trying to go to the bathroom at the starting line would be like trying to touch donnie wahlberg's frayed denium during a show in the mid-80s. so i crammed myself in the tiny pee closet and noticed there was no toilet paper, no kleenix, no paper towels. i had a vision of myself walking out of the bathroom with a single trickle of urine snaking down my leg and shuddered. so i just used my pants and stuffed them in my plastic bag.

a few people caught on to the buses bathroom. one girl went in and came out immediately. "there's no toilet paper," she said.

i felt exposed as disgusting. did she notice i went in wearing pants and came out in shorts?


i spent a lot of time at the starting line looking for people i thought i could beat. there was a suspicious lack of amputees.


my friend blitz is about 8 feet tall, and six of those feet are legs. he was planning a pace that was a big faster than i thought i could handle -- having absolutely NO idea what to expect. so i piddled alongside him for the majority of the race, taking four mini peon steps to his one gigantic stride.

the first six miles were crazy. at each mile point i did a crude cavewoman version of math and was surprised at our splits. they weren't fast, but they were faster than the chug-chugging i'd planned for.


the route from almost two harbors to duluth is a gradual, and sometimes not-so gradual, incline. at mile 11 the distance from my foot to the ground was hardly perceptible.


some asshole was holding a sign that said: run faster!
you run faster, bitchface.


my meager fan base -- chuck and the parents pista -- missed me. i was too fast for them. they saw the greysolon bingo team trudge past and imagined me guiding them like a baton twirler.


instead of a runner's high, i got runner's crabby. the finish line was chaos and i was trapped inside a plastic fence. retreiving my potty-stained pants seemed too taxing. i wandered around a bit, exhausted, and finally planted myself on a sidewalk and willed my meager fan base to somehow stumble over my body. finally i used my last ounce of strength to gather my belongings and find chuck. then i borrowed some of today's strength to find parents pista.


today my male soccer player thighs are raw from repeated contact. a toenail on my left foot is about to jump ship. i can walk, but it would take time-lapse photography to notice.

i have slept something like 14 hours. this was totally fun and i will do it again.


Whiskeymarie said...

Holy crap- I'm impressed you finished. I know several people who run the half and don't train hardly at all, yet they always finish.
Whereas I would find myself in full cardiac arrest around mile 1.5, you all manage to live through 13 and change.
I'm not entirely sure of this, but I think I'm jealous.

Krupskaya said...

Hot damn! Congratulations!

Laurie said...

You're so awesome!

Amy said...

i am proud of you! i'll buy you a beer!

Kristabella said...

Awesome! Way to go! And other congratulatory words!

I've had to get up at 4 AM before. I could barely remember to zip my fly, let alone run many miles.

Miss Kate said...


Good job, lady.

nanners said...

i love you pista. and you made me eat my words.

Moe Wanchuk said...

Very very impressive! I planned on doing a 1/2 marathon in the twin cities this year, but on day 1, I cramped up right past our street's stop sign :(

Tamara said...

About seven years ago, a couple friends and I had the wild idea of running the marathon. I registered and then I trained for one week - in March - and then got all the registration stuff in the mail at the end of May and thought I could still do it. My friends had never actually registered, so I was alone. It was only 26.2 miles, right?

Well, I did. I was seventh from the end when I finished and I could hardly walk for two weeks afterwards... but I still did it.

Training schmaining. If you don't mind the pain afterwards, then it doesn't matter so much.

Every time I see that registration has opened, I think about doing it again.

It remains one of my proudest accomplishments. So a hearty congratulations to you! Now for the ultramarathon!


Anonymous said...

way to go!!!!! now, on to twin cities marathon!

Beverly said...

Congratulations! Nice picture, too.

Beret said...

Very impressive! I can run a 5k but there is no way in hell I could ever run a half marathon.

Yesterday I started training my 7 year old for her first 5k. She's walking it this year with her Dad, but I think next year she's going to run it with me. Maybe she'll be just like you when she grows up.

Sproactually said...

I don't know anything about runners highs, but crabby i understand!! I usually train to the 2/3rds plan, if I can ride 2/3's of the distance, then that last 1/3 should be no problem. Yeah, not always so good...

That's the period of WTF am I doing to myself, my neck hurts, why do all these butt holes keep passing me.

What a great personal accomplishment, and even if chuck and the pista parental unit don't fully appreciate it, you are lucky to have someone there to share it with you when you finish, because it makes it that much more worthwhile.

Now, get you bike out, find a metric century (62 miles) to ride say in Late August and start training for that.

J-Money said...

Congrats! You could be described as "Hangin' Tough" in New Kids parlance.

Maurey said...

Nice job. I am jealous.

feistyMNgirl said...

hardly any training and you pulled it off? nice. just like the cheers i was yelling for other racers: "YOU ARE MUCH BETTER THAN ME. GOOD JOB!"

i think the bus pee-stop was a smart choice, better than going in somebody's front yard at the start of the race....

diatribes and dish said...

runners' crabby ... genius. now i finally have a name for that feeling i get. congrats on finishing!

L Sass said...


I HATE the people with the obnoxious signs and comments. The worst is when they say "Almost there" when you still have like 2-3 miles to go. Bitches.