Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Anatomy of a Half Marathon

The Rock n' Roll Half Marathon was this morning.

Here's my timeline:

5:30 am- Alarm goes off. I've only gotten 4 and a half hours of sleep. Steven has only slept 2 hours, staying up till 3 am with a tummy ache and watching old Richard Pryor movies on his laptop. Brooklyn having had 10 hours of solid sleep feels well rested, but questions our motives for getting up so early. She retreats under the covers.

6:30 am- Steven has dropped me off at the race start. I do my stretches, eat half a bagel, GU Chomps (energy gummy bears), and contemplate standing in line for the port-a-potties. I do not need to go to the bathroom, but last year I found a 20 dollar bill in a port-a-potty. It was a surreal moment finding a perfect 20 bill on the ground of a disgusting port-a-potty. Like finding pirate treasure while pissing. I left it on the ground because I didn't know where to put it (I would have had to stuff it down my sports bra). Gross. This year, I came prepared with a running belt. Still...I don't wait in line for the port-a-potties.

7:00 am- Race begins for the fast people (i.e. the Kenyans). Everybody else waits patiently for their start. I begin to daydream about the riches I could have found in the port-a-potty.

Mile 2.5- My right knee is bothering the hell out of me. This is particularly alarming because my right knee is my "good knee." I pull to the side and try to stretch it out. It doesn't work; it still hurts. I think if I keep running, it will eventually "pop" but it doesn't. I start feeling like a schmuck for finally reaching the age where I have a "good knee" and a "bad knee."

Mile 4- My iPod shuffle has played 4 songs in a row from Britney's Spears album Circus. I begin to question my iPod's judgement.

Mile 5- I get behind a jogger with a "Running in Memory of BLANK" on the back of their shirt. Under the name is a picture of an American soldier. While I truly appreciate people running for fallen friends and family, I don't want to get emotional. I divert my eyes.

Mile 5.5- Enrique Iglesias's "I Like It" comes on my iPod. I start thinking about The Jersey Shore.

Mile 6- I get behind a girl with a virtual rose garden tattooed across her entire back. Red roses. Yellow roses. Black roses. On the small of her back (tramp stamp area), it says "Rose." Really? I thought your name might have been Lily. There are a lot of bad tattoos on full display during the race. Tattoos on thighs and hips and necks. I appreciate bad tattoos while running. In school, I learned that Buddhist monks cherished imperfections in pottery because it gave them something to stare at while they were meditating. The worst idea for a tattoo that I have ever heard was this girl wanted to get the story of her and her boyfriend tattooed down her mermaids. That's right, I said mermaids. Damn, I wish I was running behind that girl right now.

Mile 6.5- I'm given a GU Energy Gel. It's vanilla. I do not eat vanilla or chocolate GU. For the reasons, you might be thinking (she whispers- when they get warm, it's like eating poo-poo and man juice). Gross. I give my vanilla GU back to the volunteer. He is not pleased and tries to hand it back. I ball up my hand little kid-style so he can't force it back into my hand. My little kid trickery works. I go to the next volunteer and grab some more GU. It's blueberry. I hate blueberry. Curses.

Mile 7- For no apparent reason, I begin thinking about Pat Benatar, the headliner for the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach this weekend. Years ago, I saw her perform for free at the 24th Street Stage at the oceanfront. She destroyed it. Her husband plays guitar in her band and they've been married for 28 years. His nickname is Spyder. During his guitar solos, she stared at him with the sort of adoration that only a young girl could hold for Justin Beiber.

Mile 8- I see a guy dressed in all white and wearing angel wings. He is running in memoriam of his friend, Erik. I divert my eyes.

Mile 8.5- I get behind a father and daughter team. On the back of her shirt it reads, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!" On the back of Dad's shirt it reads, "WHAT? THIS IS MY PRESENT?"

Mile 9- I start thinking about chocolate chip pancakes. This is not unusual. Steven and I are having brunch at Citrus immediately after the race. When I ran the Shamrock Marathon in March, I was motivated by Captain George's seafood buffet. I actually developed a cadence around mile 16 where I just repeated "Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, shrimp" with every step. It's what I imagine gets Brooklyn through her day.

Mile 9.75- The race course runs past Croatan, an affluent oceanfront neighborhood. Like always, some of the people of Croatan have set out yard sprinklers for runners to cool off under. They are also passing out orange slices and cantaloupe. I begin to reassess all the bad thoughts I've had about rich people.

Mile 10.5- I am no longer thinking about rich people. I am thinking about making it over the Rudee Inlet bridge. My right knee is questioning my judgement.

Mile 11- I fart. I know that it's not physically plausible, but I always feel that when I fart, it gives me a little turbo boost. And I run real fast for like 30 seconds. Sorta like hitting the nitro boost button in a hot car.

Mile 12- The longest mile. I begin to think about Burt Reynolds and that prison/football movie.

Mile 12.2- People always pass out during this last mile. It's a potpourri of dropping runners and fallen bodies. You really have to have your wits about you not trip or get pulled down by a delirious runner. Kind of like playing Frogger, but with fallen runners instead of cars. This one lady drops right in front of me. A medic rushes to her side and repeatedly asks, "Do you know where you are?" For some reason, I want her to answer, "Cleveland." She does not. She, in fact, does not know where she is.

Mile 12.5- My morale and stamina is at dangerously low levels. I become increasingly annoyed with spectators on the sidelines yelling things like, "You can do it! Finish strong!" I suppose it's meant to sound motivational and inspirational, but it comes across as condescending to a tired runner, when yelled by spectators in flip flops and eating snow cones.

Mile 12.75- Flo Rida's song "Low" comes on. I begin thinking about big asses and Reebok's with the straps. I notice that several women are wearing jogging pants with built-in ass support. While I have sometimes wished for a slightly larger, more curvaceous rump, I am very happy that I do not have to wear a sports bra for my ass.

Mile 13.1- I finish! To my surprise and dismay, I did not win. I finish 2nd to 6,226 people. It's been a long day; I'll take 2nd.

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