... so I'm going to talk about it real quick, and then I'll get on to the week with George R. R. Martin and last week in Hollywood with movie people and comic book superstars and all that. So bear with me.
When I was a kid my great-uncle taught me a card trick and said "You'll have to learn to appreciate this one yourself, because nobody else is going to care about it," and that's been sound advice for life. I know most people's eyes glaze over when you start telling gym stories, but it's important to me and this is where I write the things that I want to remember.
I signed up for the Philly Half Marathon sometime after the last one because I didn't want to have an excuse not to stay in shape and I ran at least 13 miles one day a week along with two other shorter runs. This time I wanted to break two hours -- I wanted to break two hours the last time but missed it by six minutes.
The organizers said we should get to the race TWO HOURS before start and expect it to take an hour to get through security ... so I went to bed at 7:30 the night before and set my alarm for 2:55 am. Got up, ate breakfast, cleaned the house and rode my bike out in the darkness. It was an interesting time to be awake. I could see the runners creeping across town, they were awake, and maniacs driving like drunken vampires trying to get home before the sun, they were awake too. I parked my bike under an overpass because it looked like it might rain. In actuality security took, really, less than one second. I didn't even have to slow down. As I was walking to the gate some guy said "do you have any bulky bags with you?" I said I didn't -- and since I was about to run 13 miles and essentially dressed as a superhero in skintight everything it was a kind of silly thing to be asking.
I wanted to try and find my friend Patricia who was running with the wheeled athletes (she wrote a guest blog about her training) and while a bunch of people let me through barricades, I got thwarted at the last one and couldn't get into her corral. So I snapped a photo and only just now did I notice that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is blocking Patricia in the shot -- which might be why they didn't let me in. Anyway.....
Clickenzee to Em-hizzhonorisen!
I got into my corral ("green") and found myself standing next to the 1:50 pacer.
Pacers are people who are so freaking good at running that they can run at exactly a particular speed, so they get drafted (or possibly paid) to have signs with their pace time and if you want to finish in that time, you just stay near that person. I got this brilliant idea, which I let Twitter know about because Livejournal still doesn't have a decent mobile app.
The race started and I suddenly got a bit weepy thinking about how I felt a year ago and how far I'd come and as I crossed the starting line I forgot to start my GPS watch and then I got further distracted by award winning photographer Joseph Kaczmarek who shouted and waved from high atop a crane. He shouted, I waved, he snapped a photo, I found myself wondering if there'd be a cat in it somehow because every photo of a murder scene he ever photographs has a cat in it.
Thus distracted I ran an entire mile before I realized my watch wasn't tracking me, I turned it on and realized I'd lost sight of the 1:50 pacer, which was difficult because his sign had a bunch of freaking BALLOONS attached to it.
Waiting for the magic to start. Clickenzee to Embiggen!
So I got paranoid I'd lost him and I started running faster and sure enough, there he was, about half a block in front of me, so I started trying to catch him, which, in retrospect was stupid, because you're supposed to conserve your energy the first half of the race and go fast the second half (this is something called a "negative split" and all the cool kids are doing it) but try as I might, I couldn't close the gap so I kind of resolved myself to not breaking 2:00 -- this was somewhere around mile three -- and it got a little easier then.
yadda yadda sweat pain gatorade NINE MILES AFTER THAT
Someone from the Intharwebz made a sign with my name on it and was waiting at mile 12 and I figured that was where I'd make my move and I just threw all of the very little I had left into it.
Which reminds me -- I wanted to say something. Occasionally people will say "It's great that you love running" or "it's great that you found something that you love to do" and I want to point out I don't like running, it's kind of awful. I had a conversation with my nephew about this a few months ago, he's a real runner, like the cross country type with .02% body fat, and he said something along the lines of "successful running is just distracting yourself from the pain for as many fractions of a second as you can" -- and that's kind of it. It hurts, you see a lake you think "lake! I wonder if you can rent a canoe here" and hey! you've distracted yourself from the pain for like half a second and then it goes back to sucking again. So, anyway, I poured it on at mile 12 and it sucked and I tried to distract myself thinking "it's only ten more minutes, it's only three more songs, this is almost over" and then I thought I'm not fat anymore and this makes me happy, and if this is what it takes to make me happy, it's what I do. And the last mile got more bearable. I was able to keep that on repeat, more or less, (imagine that every 1/4 of a second you also think THIS SUCKS YOU NITWIT, STOP RUNNING RIGHT NOW -- that's what you're fighting against. I've wondered lately if the amount of discomfort is the same but the duration is different -- like you get the option to get all your pain at once rather than spread out. When I was heavier I was uncomfortable all the time -- my back hurt, I had difficulty sleeping, it was fatiguing to walk up stairs -- it's worse when you're running, but it stops when you finish.
Anyway, some minutes later, I crossed the finish line, Mayor Nutter, unexpectedly appearing out of nowhere, hi-fived me, and, once again, everything went white and I couldn't see. I was worried that I was going to have another "exercise related collapse" but they tell you to keep moving so I kept moving, but, of course, I was blind, which made it difficult. But someone hung a medal around my neck, and someone else wrapped me in a space blanket, and some guy saw I had my phone in my hand and he said "hey! do you want me to take your picture?" and he did.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!
And I walked for a long time in a straight line and eventually my sight came back, a little at a time and I kept walking. Since I hadn't started my watch at the right time I wasn't sure if I'd come in at under two hours, I suspected I might have, but knew it would be close. Eventually I found myself sitting against a tree with a bag of pretzels, germaphobically realizing that after hi-fiving the mayor who'd been there since 5 am I had the DNA of every person in the city on my sweaty hands and I was using them to shove food into my mouth; but I felt so good I can't really describe it.
So there's the truth.
I don't like running. But I like being someone who runs.
Official time in. I did it, knocking 8 minutes off my previous time.
(Patricia came in 1:59:17 in case you were wondering.)
Add me: [LiveJournal] [Facebook] [Twitter] [Google+] [Tumblr] [Instagram]