I'm easily manipulated like that.
Thanks so much to Tzuo Hann Law for this photo.
You can clickenzee to embiggen it.
My practice runs were kind of hit or miss. I did have one while in North Dakota working on the North Dakota Man Camp Project where I ran 11 miles through the badlands with two of the researchers which was pretty awesome. Especially when the road was blocked by freaking bison.
FREAKING BISON BLOCKING THE ROAD.
That was a pretty great run with wonderful scenery interrupted only by a really grumpy park ranger with an AR-15 who seemed to have a very bad case of "I have a big gun in an empty park and nobody to boss around but these dang bison." And last week I had a pretty horrendous 10 mile run along the Schuylkill river that I should have started at 5:00 am but made the mistake of waiting till 8:30 for and got cooked like a freaking pie when the sun came up.
Anybody who knows running knows that in the week before Your Big Run you're supposed to taper, which is to say, not really run much, if at all. You don't get any better in the 7 days before your race and you're supposed to relax and watch TV and not drink booze or eat fatty foods. But on Wednesday I figured I'd go out with the West Philly Runners (my teammates for today's half marathon) and I ran four miles and it was swell. And then the next day one of my running buddies who couldn't make it to Wednesday's run said he was running and since he's a weight-loss-running-buddy I take it as some sort of sacred contract to always be the rah rah rah positive force (and he does the same for me) and the three miles we were suposed to run turned into four and then five and then I figured since we'd done five we ought to sprint another mile because, you know, stupid, and about half a mile into mile six I felt this PONG! in my left calf a sharp pain like I'd taken a stone from a slingshot to the leg and I charged through it but when we were done I knew I'd screwed up. It didn't get better on Friday and I spent most of the day foam rollering it and Saturday as well, and so I rolled into Sunday with a brand new Sports Related Injury of my own overreach that common sense would have kept me from getting and therefore once again on the day of The Big Run I wasn't sure that I'd be able to finish.
trillian_stars and I rode out to the race on our bikes at 6:00 in the morning and it was pretty glorious, a wonderful, cool day. I'd not run a step since Thursday and really wasn't sure if 100 yards into it I'd just go "ak! ak! ak! not finishing!" and quit so Trill stayed close to the starting line but when the gun went off I was guardedly optimistic and I ran at a pretty slow pace. The course was really beautiful. One of the several gifts that running has given me is seeing places that I'd never see -- not just in Philadelphia, (although particularly in Philadelphia) but like the frozen river I ran on in North Dakota and the frozen forest I ran through in Minnesota with the Arctic Running Club. Living in a city you (and by you I mean me) tend to spend so much of your time in the useful places rather than the beautiful places. When one of your goals is moving your body the definition of Useful Places expands to include the Beautiful Places. My leg hurt pretty consistently but I was running behind a guy wearing a shirt that said "NO WHINING" so I figured I'd just suck it up and power through.
Round about mile nine the sun came up and it started getting hot and I found myself trying to figure out exactly how I felt. Tired? Not really. Uncomfortable? Not really. In pain? Not really. But to some extent all of these rolled together but the overarching thing, and the completely inexplicable thing, was that despite feeling generally tired, uncomfortable, and in pain, that I felt good -- I felt maybe proud or something not sure what it is, but with my leg aching and my sweat band filled to the point that it could hold no more sweat and it being hot out, I felt happy. I think to some extent I was happy that I'd run nine miles just a few months after I was winded walking up a flight of steps and happy that I was sleeping better and feeling generally better about myself physically. But it's really hard to quantify.
Looking at my GPS watch I realized I could probably finish in less than two hours and thirty minutes and I stepped up the pace a little and, like she could read my mind, trillian_stars texted and said "don't push it." (She, like the NSA was also tracking me via my phone, but unlike the NSA she was also sitting under a tree reading Jane Eyre back at the West Philly Runners base camp.) The last couple miles is all up-hill and right before the finish line there's a big, giant, steep hill that was killing a lot of people, but it was so close to the end. I put pretty much whatever I had into the last half mile and finished in 2:37:17.
Finish like you're fighting a bear for your life.
(iPhone photo by Trillian Stars. This one doesn't get any bigger.)
Someone handed me a medal and if felt like all that hurt & tired and everything over the past weeks had been put in a car crusher and squashed down into that bit of metal and handed to me. Here, we got the bad out and magically imprisoned it in this disk.
I would have color corrected this image, but I'm pretty sure this is an accurate depiction of what my face looked like.
Clickenzee to embiggen!!!!
We hung out with the West Philly Runners and then went off to the bar, where I wore my medal, cause damnit, I earned it.
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