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.