As we learned in the last installment, the plan for the day was to run from my house to the start of the Lunar Rendezvous 5K, run that race, than continue on to finish a total of 20 miles. Done. I feel like a megabadass.
The day began with the most confusing alarm. The thing went off and I immediately wondered why the hell the alarm was going off, and why so damn early?!? Didn’t it know there was a weekend? Oh right, I have to get up and run 20 miles. Alrighty then. The morning somehow got away from me, and I ended up leaving at least 5 minutes later than I anticipated, probably closer to 10. Oops. I finally got moving, and struggled to keep my pace under control. Between the excitement of the day, the perceived need to hurry to the race, and grooving to some new music, I wanted to fly again. (Josh gave me a CD of Massive Attack to listen to, and I was really into it. I listened to it twice on the run. It gave the predawn route an added sense of the mysterious.) I decided to cut some of the original route down so I could make in on time without pushing too hard, so I only ran 4.6 miles before the race, as opposed to the planned 5.2. It was at this moment that I realized I forgot to plot out the remaining post-race miles. Oh. Fortunately I’ve been running my immediate surroundings so much I have a pretty good idea of mileages for certain routes. I started chewing on this problem.
As I turned down Saturn Ln., groups of runners appeared. I think that was Bay Area Fitness group training. They were running in the road on Saturn, which I couldn’t figure out because Saturn is a large, fast road, not a place you want to run. I took the sidewalk. Shortly after I committed to this, I saw the issue – the grass on either side of the sidewalk had grown long and was spilling over the path. It was either bushwhack through the grass, mud and water to the street, or run Saturn through the long grasses. I stuck with the sidewalk. It was covered in cold dew and kind of tickled as I kicked through it. At the end, I was covered in grass seed. Cool.
I got to the race setup, picked up my chip, and looked around for Will. I was hoping to drop my backpack for the race. I didn’t see him so I headed for a curb to tie on my chip. I passed a group of people talking, and the lead douchebag of the group said loud enough for me to hear, “I don’t know what’s with all these people who have all the gear just for a 5K.” Really, motherfucker? I leaned in to his group, “it’s because I ran here from my house, that’s why.” I didn’t get in to the fact that I would be running a half marathon distance after completing this race, which meant I needed to pack a substantial amount of snacks as well. Just as well, because king o’ the douche turned his head away from me and looked slightly down. And that is how you know you’ve made your crushing point. It’s OK, by the looks of him, he was only a few short years away from bald and fat.
I ran in to Josh shortly thereafter, and he just shook his head at me. I wasn’t sure if it was general I-can’t-believe-you-ran-here, or what-happened-to-you. I chose the latter, “you know me, if there’s an opportunity to get dirty, I’m going to take it.” Josh went to join his other friends racing that day, and I kept a look out for Will. There was still no sign of him at the start. I was starting to wonder if he was going to make it, and I gave up the dream of getting a break from carrying the pack. Sigh.
I was also on the lookout for Scott and Keiko. I knew Keiko would be pushing a stroller and I’d promised to take over it for her if she wanted to go hunt down her nemesis on the course (it’s a long story). Will came up just before the gun went off, chipless! He was delayed by cats, the Fatcat, in fact, who produced so horrible a shit that he felt compelled to remove it for fear it would contaminate the entire house! Way to go, Fatty. Still no Scott and Keiko at the gun.
Will took off immediately. Again I struggled to keep my pace under control. I love racing! But I needed to save something for the road ahead. Scott passed me some time before the half mile mark – he said they were the last ones across the mat before they rolled it up!
The course loops inside The Johnson, and we pass right by my office, which made me wonder if I could get away with charging this to my timecard. As I passed building 31, I was in turn passed by a woman who had crapped her pants. It wasn’t a full-on diaper load, but there was definite pants crappery. While I’m sympathetic, if you are not feeling confident about your sphincter, light pink running shorts are not the best move.
Around the bend at the finish, I saw Josh and Will cheering me on. I felt really strange because I wasn’t working at all, so I got all uppity and shouted mileage at them as I passed. 7.7 down. 12.3 to go. Finish line chatting and fruit consumption went on. We waited for Keiko to cross the line pushing Juliette. Keiko looked strong but you could tell the large stroller was some work for her. Josh found out he finished 5th in his age group and he was pleased with how it went. Outstanding! He’d probably hit that 20minute goal if it weren’t so hot.
I refilled my water and said goodbyes to people. While running the 5 K I figured out my route. I went down to Nassau Bay. It’s kind of a funky neighborhood, so I like running there. I took the opportunity to test out some options for my birthday run. I did a loop on the park gravel path, and then I ran the length of the boardwalk. That was a surprise. Uneven board mean you better pay attention, and if you run close to the water edge, the thing bobs up and down and you feel like you might pitch into the lake. There was a ramp down to the water and I gave serious consideration to running off the end of it into the water. The only thing that stopped me was that I couldn’t see below the surface, so I don’t know how deep it was there and there was so much debris from Ike that people are still regularly getting hurt by it. As I exited the boardwalk there was a posted sign “Caution: uneven boards. Scheduled for repair October 2012.” No shit.
I ran the peninsula out of the park, managed not to get stuck in the mud, but it was harder running. I saw some of those mud digging crawfish indigenous to the area! I passed this wooden sign that indicates a “trail” off in the brush. I thought of Josh as it’s just the kind of thing we would dare each other to try. Then it was back out again to refill water at the park. At which point I noticed my Garmin had shut itself off. Fail. Sometimes I think I pushed the start time button, but it doesn’t engage. I think I only lost about a half mile though.
I worked my way back out of Nassau Bay, and hit that tough place just before I got to NASA Parkway. Around 12 miles I have this massive hate-on. I want to stop running because everything is pointless. I’m not sure what this is all about. It’s not the transition to fat burning, I know what that feels like and it’s different. I had one of Jenny’s 10 Mile Cookies and felt better. Because I had cookies. Cookies rock.
As I crossed NASA Parkway, I knew I needed to get my head back in it, so I pulled up the playlist I created inspired by the pothole prairie marsh run to get me through the last hour. That was it! I was able to run nearly all the rest of it. I did part of the golf course and then back home, in less time than it took me to do my 18 mile run.
I was still running at mile 19 and feeling pretty good until 19.5. Then, wow, that was a surprising amount of pain! I see why 20 miles is a big deal for marathoners. But if I had wanted to, I could’ve pushed through it and kept going. I know that. But no need now – save it for later.