Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slump Buster

Week 3 is halfway over, and so far I've just done 1 day, and it wasn't a very inspiring day at that. I've decided that before I officially fall into a slump, I need to recharge by writing a (hopefully) motivating post about why I want to run. I've decided to list a few of my most memorable road races. In no particular order, here they are.

1. Claddaugh Pub, March 3, 2002. 4 miles, 37:32 (9:23 pace). The thing I remember most about this run was the anticipation of it. Emily and I decided at Christmas of 2001 that we would run a marathon. I don't really remember the conversation, except that somebody mentioned the word "marathon", and Emily who is ever-enamored by a new plan and who can be very persuasive in convincing others to join her in these pursuits, was there to hear said word, and that's really all it took. Neither of us were runners, but we immediately started a slow & steady training program. By March 3rd, the day of the Claddaugh Pub 4 Mile Road Race, neither of us had run that distance, and we were both terrified. The longest either of us had run was probably a 5K or maybe 3.5 miles. I remember one of my dad's running buddies saying with complete confidence that if we could do 3 miles, we can do 4 no problem. I'd probably say the same thing to someone else these days, but at the time, those words of encouragement sounded far-fetched at best, and absurd at worst. If you can run 3 miles, then you can run 4 miles? At the time, I thought, No, if I can run 3 miles, then that means I can run just that. 3 MILES. Maybe I'll be able to walk/crawl/roll the last 1 mile. But of course, we all know how the story goes by now, we DID run 4 miles, and it was all good, just like it always is.

2. Bonnell Ford 5 Mile Bunny Hop, April 27, 2003. 47:04 (9:28 pace). I remember two things about this race. I ran the fastest 1 mile of my whole life in the first mile of this race. I think it was like 7:53 or something. I felt so impressed with myself for having done that, but also knew that I had 4 miles of hell ahead of me since there was no way I could sustain that pace (proof: my 9:28 pace). The middle of this race is a blur, but the second thing I remember about this race was that the during the final mile, I had my dad in my sights and I was trying my damnedest to beat him, something that has never happened still to this day. I was huffing and puffing and trying everything to inch my way up to him before the looming finish line. There was one woman between my dad and me, and she totally thought I was racing her because she'd look over her shoulder and turn on the juice. I stayed right behind her, and then she started huffing and puffing and was determined not to let me beat her. If I had any extra energy or breath left, I would have told her that I wasn't trying to beat her, I was trying to beat the guy in front of her, but I suppose it was good for all of us to run until complete exertion. And by "all" I mean me and her. My dad was shuffling along happily, totally oblivious that I was about to pass out trying to catch him. In the end though, he finished only 3 seconds ahead of me. Maybe if I didn't run a sub-8:00 first mile, I could have caught him. Say what you will about running just for fitness, but even the back-of-the-packers can experience the thrill of competition sometimes.

3. The Great Stew Chase, February 2, 2003. 15K (9.3 miles) 1:44:00 (11:10 pace). . It's funny, I never knew this race was called the "Great" Stew Chase. I must have dropped the word "Great" from my memory because this was THE. WORST. RACE. EVER. Basically it was snowing and sleeting and freezing rain, and I was dead last. A 96 year old man with a limp passed me. The ambulance and the police cruiser were creeping along right behind me. For over 9 miles. If someone had told me that in less than 3 months I'd be sprinting to the finish with my dad in another race, I would have said no way can that happen because I'm never running again. For the last 2 or 3 miles of this race, I ran with a runner who already finished but had circled back around to do a victory lap (I will never understand that.) He must have seen how miserable I was and ran with me out of pity. That's the only explanation I can think of. I kept telling him that he could leave me but he stuck it out, and I'm glad he did because the last few miles went by much more quickly. Had he not run with me, I probably would not have ended up sprinting to the finish line 3 months later. I also passed another runner in the last 1/10th of a mile, so HE ended up being dead last. Sorry Robert Levine of Lynn, MA. Consider yourself bamboozled.

4. Vermont City Marathon, May 25, 2003. 5:33:40 (12:44 pace). Of the two marathons I completed, I remember the second one, Vermont City, more. Sure the Chicago Marathon was my first, and I will always cherish those memories in a special place in my heart, but let's be honest, popping your marathon cherry can sometimes hurt and your memory of it is nothing more than you closing your eyes and gritting your teeth and waiting for it to be over. Now the second marathon, oh yeah, now we're enjoying ourselves. Wait a minute, should I be horny right now? Probably not. Uhhh, so, moving on.... Vermont City Marathon. What a great race. Emily and I signed up for this race because we didn't want the high from finishing Chicago to fade. Unfortunately, our training fell by the wayside. Besides the Awful Stew Chase, I think we may have done one 12 mile run, and that was pretty much it for training. The course map for the VCM was a cloverleaf through downtown Burlington, VT. We decided that since we already paid for the registration fees, we would still go to the marathon, and drop out downtown on our third pass through, which would roughly be mile 15 or so. We figured this would be the height of the post-race festivities since most of the runners would have already completed the full 26.2 miles at this point. But when you're hyped up on starbursts and oreos that they were handing out at mile 12 and you're charging up a steep hill at mile 15, you think, Hey? What's another 11.2 miles? And so on we went. The second half of this race was euphoric for me. I can't explain why. The runners were really spread out, and Emily and I separated. I think I was just in some sort of zone and was just cruising right along. I ended up beating my Chicago Marathon time by about 14 minutes, and considering the lack of training we did prior to this race, I have to give most of the credit to muscle memory. (And a little to starbursts and oreos.)

5. Curley Goulet Trail Run, who knows when or where or how long. When I cleared my mind and asked myself, "If you could do any race again, what would it be?" and this was the first and only race that came to mind. Race is too strong a word. I still don't know what this was, and the closest I can come up with is that it was an inside joke that Emily and I walked into blindly. We had never done a trail run before, so we didn't know if it was normal that the registration booth was in the woods, and that people were being mysteriously silly, and that there was no course map. Once we started running, we quickly found ourselves in a clearing in the middle of the woods drinking beer. This was no race! It was a front for a secret society of nature happy beer drinkers! Sure, I could do this now, but I'd probably be arrested like a white trash loser who drinks in the woods. Slap a race number and a pair of sneakers on me though, and suddenly I'm untouchable. I want to be untouchable. I want to be a runner.

Weeee!!! Is it tomorrow morning yet?!?!

1 comment:

  1. Best post yet!! It makes ME want to run. and, I just came back from the gym and am still bitching and moaning about how much I hate walking around that track. And now all of a sudden I want to run. In fact, I just went and bought a $60 sports bra online. what have you done to me?