Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Day the Music Died

"I don't want to do this." This statement was made in the weeks leading up to this moment, multiple times in fact. Not going to link back to it, but last year made a blog post how it would never happen again, going into a marathon under trained. That post was made to motivate, instead if anything, it feels as if that post only caused more slacking. It certainly didn't encourage the behavior I wanted it to.

CT did give me an out, she said that I could drop to the half the days leading up to this moment. The problem, she found herself a cause, hence committing herself to doing the full. There's no way that I can do less than her, when she beats me at everything. Know what you are thinking, of course she spent the time and actually trained for this. If I spent zero time training, she's spent negative time! In her defense, she's been hurt. In my defense, yeah I've got nothing.

If this is a perfect storm for failure, it's here. Lining up at the starting line, the sky opened up and let loose a downfall of rain. Most marathons, there's always a level of nervousness in myself. Today is different, I had a feeling today was going to suck, the rain only multiplied that to drive the point home. Guuuuuush, goes the gun.

Running in a downpour makes some things easier, like no needing or caring where to step. It also helped having zero expectations for this thing. Didn't feel pressure to hang with people, pace groups, or anything. There is etiquette to running, I don't know if you the reader knows this or not. Maybe someday I'll go into more detail on this etiquette, but one thing NOT to do is run with your music blaring. Now, I'm not a cold hearted d-bag, but there are limits too. Knowing full well today was going to suck from the get go, I started my music playing (at a reasonable level). A couple miles in, a running friend decided to give me some grief for being shirtless. At first I didn't hear because of my music, or maybe being lost in my own world of suffering, but he had to repeat his comment again blaming my music. my response, "I didn't hear you because I'm deep into Taylor Swift right now", which got more than a few laughs from other runners around me.

Up until this point, I only remember doing one race in a downpour. The part I'll remember about this one, somewhere around mile 6 coming up to a crew of workers attempting feverishly to push water from a section of trail. They are out there with huge push brooms, there's actually a pump running trying to pull as much water as possible from one side to the other, meanwhile it's full on ankle deep and much to wide to even attempt or bother trying to hurdle. It's raining, we are all soaked, what's the point? Splash, splash, does this count as a tri-athalon? 

Getting to the 10K timing mat, I almost felt good, dare I say cocky? Rounding the corner, there was one of the teams pushing a wheel chair, except there wasn't a team, it was one woman. Maybe the others were pulled off in the flash flood that I just crossed, either way helped her push her companion across the mat. Now, I did say cocky, not stupid, soon after the hill starts and this is where my helpfulness ended. That helpfulness was to build Karma for what I'm sure I'd need later, energy is at a premium and that needs to be conserved!

By this part of the course the numbers have thinned out. Soon the half marathon people get to turn and it becomes even more sparse. Somewhere in this section, again I was rocking out my guilty pleasure music, "Call Me Maybe" is on. I swear, I always get busted listening to this when running. Sure enough, a guy running by me breaks into singing along with it, not to be upstaged by him, but soon I joined along putting massive emphasis on "this is crazy" line.

There went the halfway point. Every step after this still running is a bonus, because honestly didn't think I'd make it much more than this. It isn't long before I believe I'm gaining on a friend and have this calming feeling knowing that chatting with him will make the suffering seem less. No sooner do I think those thoughts, then he tags his partner who is part of a relay team and if that wasn't bad enough, turns out it wasn't who I thought it was anyway! Was Karma not watching, when I helped push that wheelchair? The new runner for the relay team, happens to be the weather girl for one of the local stations and the relay team is comprised of people who work for that channel. She started out much faster than I currently was going, so initially she pulled away, but at some point I caught her and couldn't resist commenting to her as I passed "You better pick up the pace, the insert name of the competing channel's name, is gaining on you". She got a chuckle out of that. Couldn't resist, not sure which side Karma falls with that one.

Somewhere in mile sixteen, steps weren't coming as ease as they once were. Mile eighteen, knew something wasn't right anymore. My vision started to become tunnel vision. This is part of the course that is an out and back, so I was hearing people say hi to me, yet not seeing them at all. I do get runner stupid at times and it dawned on me that this probably wasn't good to keep dealing with, there certainly wasn't any point since I was only doing this race to survive, no time goals or anything, so finally shut it down and started walking a bit. Not too soon after, CT showed up and in passing told her my vision was funny and I'll see her again when she catches me, call me, maybe.

Somewhere in miles twenty to twenty-two, legs, specifically calves started cramping. At this point, walking had at least returned my vision back to normal. The cramping was a clear message from Karma, "This is why you train, stupid."  Hearing the message and listening to the message are two completely different things. Lactic acid, threshold, all those concepts that I heard, but never really listened to, all made much more sense now.

The four hour pace group just pasted, now pride kicked in and there's no way am I putting up with an over four hour marathon, even under-trained! "Here's my number, Call Maybe", Karma.   At this point my calves started hurting so bad, I basically could walk about ten feet, I'd stop message them for a bit, try another ten feet and repeat. With the people passing, I knew it was moments before CT showed up, surely that would boost my spirits and get me out of this bind!

CT showed up, when I collapsed to massage my calf, being the loving wife she is, she grabbed my other calf to help, only massaged so hard that calf instantly went into a full blown charlie horse. It wouldn't stop, it looked like a baby's fist was attempting to punch itself out and what's a visual without sound? I'll tell you, I was crying like a little girl. I admit it. Yeah, I'm embarrassed about it but I also admitted to listening to Call Me Maybe, how much worse could it get? The pain was excruciating, but the part that hurt worse was that I was twenty four miles into this thing, two miles from the finish and there was a good chance I'd have to give up. Well, you know with CT around, there is NO giving up. Once I stopped crying and the baby's fist left my calf, I hobbled a bit, every step forward is closer to being done.

The music stopped, not because in pain I found etiquette, but because my phone battery was almost dead. CT called a friend out on the course to come get me, he showed up and walked me to the finish line as she left to beat me no less. 

The line got crossed. Officially the worst marathon I've ever done. There's some lessons here, hope I'm hearing them and more importantly, hope I'm listening to them.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Groundhog Day

"If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well" some famous person once said, or maybe it was my mom. Either way, this isn't a story about doing that! This is the weekend for my favorite race to hate. How better to make a mockery out of that saying and guarantee an already hard race is even harder? Little to no practice, that's how! My longest run in the past month has been a four miler. Time to see if my body can survive a trail half marathon. Oh and while at it, why not raise the bar this year? Ambitiously signed up for back to back days last year, oh boy.

A year is long time, lots can change, but honestly had much better intentions for this weekend. Primarily, the goal was getting my cousin to run this brutal course and enjoy her accomplishment, yet relish her complaining how much her body hurt afterward. Nobody reads this thing, I'm not that much of a jerk, I'm not wishing pain on my cousin for no reason. She tortured me relentlessly growing up, she's due! Turns out she side-stepped this race last minute, karma found me, because now I'm the one complaining that everything hurts as I duck walk.

Maybe everything will be fine, if I can get one more long run in......errrrrrrrrrrrr, goes the start gun. Damn it! Today is all about twos. Got two fairly easy miles to start. Two through four has the hellacious hill. Four through six, another awful climb. Six through eight, a stretch of down, finally! Eight to ten, the huge rollers. So many damn hills!! Ten to twelve, pretty much don't remember, but getting close to the end. Then, finally downhill to the finish line. As I ran, I concentrated on the current two miles and just told myself to push as long as I could before the wheels came off. Wasn't sure if I'd make it to mile four and want to be done, or if I could coax my body to do more. Turned out, made it to a little past mile eight before my body wanted to know what exactly I was doing. The rollers finished me off and it was survival for the rest of the race.

Crossing the line, honestly, I was a bit surprised. It was only two minutes worse than last years time. Granted last year I had to fight around people the whole way, but it was a moral victory knowing how little training I did coming into this weekend. CT also part of the same training program, she PR'd her time! Maybe there's something to fresh legs. We both got age group awards, which was also shocking, bonus!

Day two of Groundhog Day, the alarm goes off, it was like slow motion getting to the bathroom. This is what I wished on my cousin, but now it's both CT and I. Buy stock in ibuprofen. With a little activity, it did get better, but there were also some serious doubts as to how today is going to play out.

"It's Groundhog Day..." goes the gun. First two miles were okay. Hoped that I could last as long as yesterday, but already after the first major hill, it became apparent to me survival mode was going to start much sooner. Made it to the six mile hill before cheating with a walk. From about that point on, anything more than an ant hill, I walked up it. Day two, ended being five minutes slower. CT ended up being three minutes slower, so in her mind, she's tougher. Not even going to fight it, because I'm whipped! But, we both AG placed again.

One of the reasons I love this race is the value. Honestly, not sure if we are tired from the back to back races, or from carrying all the gear they give us!    

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Smells, like winning

It's been two years since the passing of the Ringer. It sure doesn't seem like it's been that long already. Neither CT or I have been putting many miles in. Certainly, wouldn't call it training. If anything, my excuse is living life. Even though this is the traditional hometown race, didn't even decide to do it until the last minute. Under-trained, short notice, still felt right to do what we originally planned for the Ringer.

Mark this down as a first, when I say it was last minute, first race I've ever done where we walked up the morning of, put our money down and registered. This will be interesting. CT debated even doing a warm up, we both joked that our first mile will be a warm up. Meanwhile in the back of my head, I was actually worried adding more miles to the now daunting three point one of a 5K. We did do a little warm up, legs felt like rubber. CT confidently announced this pace felt good and demanded that I start my watch to tell her the current pace. It was a good pace, way too fast for a warm up, better than I expected. Still, zero expectations on this. This may be a race, but it's not going to feel like it.

On a day when I want to start this as the new tradition of this race also being a celebration for the Ringer, I kid you not, Jessie's Girl starts playing as the race starts. What are the chances? You almost can't make stuff up like this. CT runs in a Jesse's Girl shirt for her Dad and now that song has started to send us off.

"Jesse is a friend"....goes the gun. Just like every race, the youngsters go flying out the gate. Getting to the first straight away, it did seem like only the under twenty's up ahead. Granted, I knew I was running on adrenaline and was going faster than my lack of training could maintain. but honestly my mind was still trying to comprehend that song playing.  The chances of that playing, in this moment, at this race, two years after, seem astronomical to me. Mile one clicks and it's not horrible, in fact, it's a bit impressive for the complete lack of running I've been doing lately. Of course being neck and neck with a kid who is probably twelve doesn't help either. In one moment, feel content to stay with him and call that a moral victory. But soon, he starts to die. Two other youngins up ahead, maybe catching them is possible.

Mile two, both yougins have been caught, but feel breathing down my neck and it sounds heavier than any of the kids I've passed, here it is, here's where my lack of training fails and I get angry at myself for doing this race for the Ringer and I get beat. Sure enough, a guy of 90% legs passes me. Looks younger, but it's so hard to tell sometimes but a good chance he's in my age group and he easily pulls away. Damn it.

The last mile has a couple of very small hills in it. Going up the first, gained ground on legs. That damn song, the Ringer is watching this, it's too much of a coincidence. Getting beat by somebody I can't see is one thing, but not taking a chance with legs isn't an option and time to dig deep. Going into the final turn, I could tell he was dead. Don't get me wrong, my body hated me, was questioning what the hell I was doing after taking so much time off, but I knew going into the final hill that I could kick harder if I had to and legs didn't have a chance. Maybe the Ringer was pushing, who knows.

Went back to cheer CT up the final hill. Different face on her. When the Ringer was here to watch her, after surprising her, she was nothing but a smile up this hill. Today, was all business. Okay, mostly it was lack of training or possibly the three times she vomited during her run, but hey she always has said "if you didn't puke, you didn't run hard enough".

In the end, we both got first, just like it should have been two years ago.  It's two years late, but these were the results I pictured. This picture was not, simply going to label this one "Smells like a winner". Pretty sure the Ringer would laugh at the picture and something tells me he was watch.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Taking the Call

Back to the Home Town. Much lower key this time around. Seems like most of the Superstars are injured, that leaves only the hard corers left, you know CT. She counts for two.  Last year we entered with some swagger for sure, I even rocked the Orange Crush (this PR) shoes. Granted, they failed me a little bit causing me to run with untied shoes for eleven miles, but put down a great time. This year, CT didn't decide she would even run it to the day before.

Waiting at the start, find myself struggling with wanting to put on my "retired" favorites. They treated me so well two weeks ago, making it twenty miles before causing tender feet. Thirteen miles would be easy, I'll send them out on a high note! Decision made! No sooner did I decide, when I made eye contact with Mom's scornful eyes "you're not wearing those" without needing to say the words. When in the Home Town, have to follow Mom's rules.  The new pair get laced up.

Year's past, worked on getting in the zone. Not really sure what today or even the running future holds lately. Granted it's a small race, but lined up right in the middle, no expectations today. What does unboxing sound like? Well that's the start gun. This course has like three turns in it, the first one is within eyesight at the start, after the first turn I was in third, so much for hanging back and feeling out.

The first two runners are running side by side and one of them happens to be Fuel. They weren't running too far out of my comfort zone, so stuck on their heels and eavesdropped for probably the first four miles. At this point their conversation  must have ran it's course because the other guy bolted ahead. Still within eyesight, it's another eight miles before we find another turn. By about mile six, Fuel pulled right along side of him again. Spectating from behind, I really smiled at this, the one guy made his move and now that Fuel caught back up to him, had a feeling it probably broke his spirit. This will be interesting to watch what happens and how this plays out.

There are races when I get in foul moods. There are other races when I'm having a good time, and this happened to be one of them. Crossing a cross-street, couldn't resist yelling at the officer watching traffic if he'd radio ahead for the next officer to taz the two guys ahead of me. Think it really caught him off guard, because he was soon laughing and giving me a thumbs up.

Mile eight, finally started the "maybe this isn't fun" feelings. Honestly, can't believe I made it this far at this pace. The mental games switched to attempting to figure out my finish time, if I eased back into my normal pace. I did slow a little, but nowhere near normal pace and just kept logging miles. Even took a few seconds to shake a familiar face working the last water stop.

The final stretch, couldn't resist pretending I was on a phone call. The fact that I was still goofing off, obviously could have ran a little harder. Seeing the final time, maybe thirty seconds slower than last year, granted that was with shoe laces flopping the whole way and doing a number on my toe, but I was also much more trained than I was coming into today. Put this in the books for my best race this year by far.

CT's winning streak came to an end. She ended up with second today (that's overall). Normally, I'd be a bit worried to get back in the car with her, but she went from last year deciding she wouldn't do this race to let somebody else win, to not wanting to do it at all, to, finally wanting to try it. She wasn't disappointed at all. I'll even let you in on a little secret, I wouldn't be surprised if this was all for motivation for next year.....just a guess.

Oh, and even though I didn't see it play out, Fuel won overall!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Marathon Learning

Standing at the starting line, honestly have no idea what to expect today. The major dilemma so far has been deciding which shoes to wear, crisis at six in the morning. Thoughts that maybe I should have trained a little harder during this season, hasn't even entered my brain, yet. Surely, they are coming, probably around mile sixteen, provided my feet aren't on fire. Today, is going to be painful regardless. First order of business, deciding how painful. Do I start with the old shoes, and run (pun) the risk of destroying my feet early? Or do I start with my newer shoes in an attempt to save my feet and switch to my old pair for the awful miles, when it doesn't matter anymore? Yes, this is seriously the internal conversation I'm having with myself, shoes at six in the morning. Last I checked, I'm a guy, but there are times I spend entirely too much time thinking about shoes, hey, don't judge.

Turns out, I got rushed into a decision, since Sis-in-Law, Downhill, needed to pickup my spare pair at house and not at the start of the race. Instead of struggling with my decision leading all the way up to  race time, out the door and decision made. Old it is! Love these shoes, so many good runs in them, memories, PR's, maybe there's a chance they'll get me through the whole race and I can retire them the way they should be. They only have the one hole in the bottom (okay, there are four on the sides), nothing can go wrong.

Reeeeeetirement goes the gun. I find it slightly humorous the less I train, the better the weather seems to be on race days. Lucky number seven and the first time the temps are actually in my favor. Even with that going for me, started off very conservative, figuring this nice weather is only a trick to burn out early! Not falling for that one again Kzoo!

First few miles, great to see the crowds, feel the energy, then The Turn. I call it "The Turn" because it's where the fun stops and the seriousness starts. The half marathon people get to go straight feeding off all the energy down town, the marathon people make "The Turn" and suddenly what started as a group run now becomes running by yourself isolation. This is where experience comes in, being the seventh time doing this, not only did I have my phone with me, I already had it playing my tunes silently, so within a couple clicks, boom, entertainment for the rest of this thing.

Fast forward to the tech section. This stretch always seems to prelude the downward spiral every year. Nothing like running by all the solar panels WMU has out generating energy, meanwhile the direct sunlight is doing nothing but draining the runners. At least this year, the temps kept this much less noticeable. In fact, may have even gained some energy leaving the tech campus, seeing some familiar faces, with some cheering.

Here's where this marathon story starts. Early conservation has helped, it's the point in the race where it's time to do something dumb (runner logic). I can feel the itch to push the pace, figuring the end is inevitable, time to see how many good miles I can get in before the end comes. No sooner did I start down this path, when I caught up to Water Bottle Girl (WBG).

I've seen WBG around, not exactly sure what pace group she's been in during training this winter (it would be embarrassing if she were in my group..please don't let her be in mine...proving how much slacking I've done as a pace leader this year). On the last twenty mile run, only one person, in my group, was going out long, figured man up and keep him company. Low and behold, WBG trots past us and next thing I know the two of them tricked me into doing twenty miles that day. I ended up having a horrible run, my socks are planted in a corn field as proof (so many blisters, left them to die or maybe next year there will be a giant sockstock growing) and tapped out at eighteen. I hobbled away from that run confident both of my runners that day would do fine in their up coming races, but felt horrible about my own chances.

Unsure of how much she wanted to "talk", asked the basic question of when she wanted to finish. 3:35, which even with runner's head, I knew exactly what that meant, she's aiming to qualify for Boston. Ambitious task on this awful course! The fact we could see the 3:30 pace group, she's even pushing the pace down hills. Here's my project. While there's no guarantee I've got 3:35 in my tank, I've got enough miles in me to help her out. First step, turn down my music with the comment "I won't torture you with this", her response "it kind of helps". Music back on. Soon after she ask's if my music is set to 180 beats per second. I've never really run with her. Oh WBG, the day I take the time to make a playlist designed to run perfect is the day, wait, I wouldn't take the time to even make a playlist! This could be a very bad mix of seriousness and playfulness. Maybe, I should just let her do her thing, this might be a bad combo. Further proof, the next song that comes on, one of my favorites because of HOW inappropriate it is. Worried, hoping she can't hear it, at least not well enough to hear any of the words. No way WBG knows this song, she can't really hear it over our breathing, our feet pounding, it's safe...right? No sooner did I talk myself into it would be okay, out of her mouth "Oh, I love Elle King". much for that idea! She has good taste, maybe this could work.

At or around the halfway point, we'd reach stretches where the wind would be blowing pretty good. Now, I really never verbalized what I was doing, but at times, when I could feel the wind, I'd move in front to block it and save her some energy. Each time I did this, not sure if she thought I was being an ass, attempting to leave her, or maybe she didn't want front row seats to looking at my back, but she'd drop further and further back, eliminating the drafting effect. I couldn't figure this out, but also didn't say anything, until I asked my next question, "how many marathons is this for you"? WBG, "Two". She tricked me again! Crushing that twenty miler, the fact she runs around with her own water bottle, knows/wants 180 beats per minute music, had me thinking this whole time she was much more experienced. Even though I was deep in runner stupid, this was my moment of clarity. I wouldn't say life flashed before my eyes, but in that moment it struck me as pretty funny that I may be running with a much (much) younger version of myself!

Marathon two, went out way too fast, high expectations, sounds familiar...and she likes inappropriate lyrics! This is where I realized should have asked WAY more questions earlier. Not sure it would have mattered with where I caught up with her, but should have been slowing her down in those middle miles. A few seconds after the clarity hit, then the reality hit, we have no chance to hit 3:35. Hey, I said this was a story, didn't say it had a happy Hollywood ending! Ugh, I know the feeling all too well of setting goals for a run and not getting them. My stomach flipped, feeling like I let WBG down. In teasing fashion, had to give her some crap about picking this marathon to Boston qualify with. She took it in good spirits, so part of me thinks she already realized this, because she countered with she'll take it as a success if she PR's. Well, THAT, I know we can do! My response to that, you find a sensible marathon, I'll pace you and we'll get your Boston Qualifier.

The final miles were brutal (at one point got an "F" bomb from her, yeah I like her), but definitely didn't seem as bad as past years. At one stretch we talked about it's all a learning experience, every marathon is. This whole training season something has been different. Could be a combination of things, stupid flu, some bad socks, maybe it's a simple as being burnt out from last year, but somewhere lost the love of running. The same point WBG was learning going out a bit too fast in the early stages isn't good for the later stages, I learned that almost all my of my enjoyment of running is helping others. The second the race stopped being about my shoes, worrying about pain, lack of training, generally thinking about my own performance and and the focus switched to somebody else, it completely changed and found the love of running again. Never really thought about that relationship before, it's seems so simple, so obvious, yet it took me a training season and half a marathon before it clicked. Learning, might be older, but can do it, still.

Crossing the line, it was great to see WBG's smile with a twenty-five minute PR! In true Superstar fashion, it was fun to plant the seed about trying a fall marathon while not even out of the finishing chute, only to have CT come over (knowing next to nothing about the story of this run) and attempt and even bigger sales-pitch into her doing a fall marathon. Watch out WBG, where I offer advice and stories, CT gets you committed to things!

Speaking of CT, she's the one who should really write a blog about today. She had more fun today than any other race, by far. On the drive home, as she's explaining to me their antics, she was laughing so hard she was crying. Can't say I've ever seen that or expected it, part of me wishes I could have watched her whole adventure play out, but CT did take 128 photos before her phone died. She may have found her love of running again too or maybe she lost some of her competitiveness and realized running can be fun....hmmm.

*Oh and the shoes made it to mile 20 before thought it best to swap them out. 2,813 miles. Hmm, do have a half in a few weeks...

Saturday, April 8, 2017


CT really is after the insurance money. I know it, my friends know it, it's no secret. How do I know? She keeps signing me up for marathons, but it's blatantly obvious how desperate she is when she signs me up for ultra-marathons. With as much ID TV she watches, she really should cover her tracks better. No insurance company out there is going to believe it's an "accident" that my heart exploded or my legs fell off.

The plan, she was going to kill me with another ultra. The problem, that plan got derailed (keep in mind this ultra takes place along an old railway path, so that's damn funny!) when I lost a good month plus to the stupid flu. She training suffered too, so combined it made sense that we both better team up and do the race together as a relay team instead of us both dying. No point in even having insurance, if we are both gone!

Anytime I've done a relay in this race, it's always been the second half, the sixteen mile section. CT was all set to do the first leg with a friend, even though it's a bit longer at eighteen miles, she's tougher anyway. Yeah, yeah, I know, she wears the pants. Last minute her friend got hurt, looking at the weather report, knew it was going to warm up. The fact by some miracle I've been putting in slightly more miles than her, it made sense to switch. I'd take the first leg, she'd do the second leg. Going into this thing, mentally my game plan is surviving, knowing neither of us have prepared very well for even doing the half we are doing. CT on the other hand, she's checking stats and thinks we have a good chance to win the M/F team relay award.

Go Teeeeeeeam, goes the gun! What I'm expecting is a bolt of runners going past and there goes any thought of winning anything within the first couple minutes. Instead, I not only see both runners in front of me, granted they are going at a fast pace, but I can hang here for a bit. A couple miles in, I'm still waiting for somebody to pass me, but it's not happening. As the miles keep going by and it isn't happening, doubt is dwindling and confidence is building. At one point crossing a side street where CT was waiting and cheering me on, I yell out "we are winning this babe" confidently.

Mentally preparing all week for sixteen miles, I made it. The second I made it one step past that, my body began to ask questions. With how everything has gone this year, honestly, I was kind of surprised how well I did, for as long as I did. There is a positive here, but this last mile is going to be tough! So glad to see CT, but also knowing my day is done, I get to become the cheerleader.

We pass the baton. Really, there isn't one, but in this case it was kissing CT to which the crowd gave an "Awwwwww", to letting her run a few steps before I couldn't resist announcing "I don't even know her!". CT knows me well, probably too well (she is planning on killing me), but she had a HUGE donut waiting for me. Which I almost inhaled before she was even out of eye-sight.

As I sat there, recovering, by smashing that donut down my throat, proud of myself for the lead I built up for CT, my eyes focus in on a young kid standing there in a singlet, basically looking fast. Oh, he's on a relay team that is going to win, based on his body style, I'm sure he's part of a six man team that is going to throw down a seriously fast time. No sooner did I think that, this young girl comes in and tags him. Oh no, we are racing against THEM? Skin and bones, who hasn't been stuffing his face with a donut, is going to catch CT in only a few minutes. The BIG lead I gave CT (barely beating out his young female partner) isn't going to amount to jack squat, this isn't about winning anymore.

Figure at this point, I'll go find and spectate CT. Mainly to tell her at the very least, don't worry about pushing too hard, because we have no chance. As I found her, her comment was "I'm done". "You're done, what do you mean? There's fourteen more miles!" I didn't say that, but I sure thought it! As she went by, she said something like "you take over at the next crossing". Um, I just did eighteen, it about killed me, then I shoved a huge donut in, girl you crazy!

Next crossing, she's out, I'm in. The surprising part, there is no part of this story that involves donut being sprayed, spilled, wasted along any part of this trail.  As I ran, I couldn't help but attempt to do math and figure out if she's out, how many miles do I have to do? How many are left? This is beyond bad. Before I got myself worked up too much, there she is at the next cross street, then she was back in. Not sure if it was surprise or praise, but thank you! Granted we are breaking the "rules" of this relay, but it's obvious to me we aren't going to win and now it's all about finishing with however unorthodoxed this race becomes for us. That pattern continues for the rest of the race, we switch places every cross street and it worked. We did it and we survived.

Everybody knows, CT is tougher. There isn't a second, since I've known her where I've ever thought different or wondered. It's simply fact. This is the course that cemented that for me a few years ago when I saw her do the whole thing, in horrible conditions, and look like she could still do more carrying me if she had to. Also the moment I thought to myself, don't ever fight this girl! On a day neither of us were really prepared, it felt good to step up and help out when she wasn't feeling it. 9 out of 10 times, make that 999 out of 1,000 times it will always be her, but today was my day to help the team of us.

 Yeah and team youngsters crushed us, but we bonded more and appreciated what we accomplished more today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

History Finds Me

"Do you want a flu shot?" The doctor asks. Well, really it's a PA asking me that, can't afford real doctors. A PA? What is that, Practically Almost, Probably Assuming, Phony A-hole? Yeah, I'm going to take advice from somebody younger who is basically doing intern work.

Fast forward a couple weeks, one miserable week of feeling like complete garbage with the highlight story is waking up in a pool of sweat on the kitchen floor after passing out and crashing into the corner counter resulting in a nice size gash in my shoulder. As if the body aches weren't bad enough, add back pain to the symptoms. Oh, and lets not forget the bruise to the ego as CT is constantly reminding me that I could pass out at any time now. Like I'm some kind of walking hazard. Okay, the flu got me.

Fast forward a couple more weeks. That flu, it's gone, but yet it's still here and it's not CT reminding me I could pass out at any time. Prior, provided I am running my normal pace, it's not much effort to keep going and going. The only real limits were running out fuel or hitting the boredom wall. After this battle with the flu, things have completely changed. It honestly feels like real effort simply doing six miles at my normal pace. Getting to double digits, I'm completely spent. It's an awful feeling, don't understand, and what's worse it hasn't seemed to get any better.

Training has basically come to a complete stop. The goal was to do that Ultra race again in about a month and a half. There's no way. That race about killed me last year and I put in a ridiculous amount of miles preparing for it. One battle with the flu and it's derailed that goal.

Today, I stand at the starting line of the race that is built for me, the Winter Blast and the race I PR'd last year. No glimmers of hope of pulling off last year's performance today. In fact, I'm honestly worried about the distance. The way I've been feeling at or around miles eight lately, knowing thirteen is what's needed, seems daunting.

Take it easy, run it slow, that's all that's running through my mind. As I try to mentally prepare for what's coming. As I look over, I see a woman taking a picture of a runner and it kind of clicks that "hey, I know her, but from where?". Normally, I'm a bit runner stupid late in run, but today it's already to that point before the race has even started. Damn, flu! Few more seconds, it dawns on me, she's the wife the neighborhood kid. Sure enough, look over and there's my kid neighbor standing right next to me (okay, he's grown up some). I'm going to call him Fuel.

Memmmmmories, goes the gun.Fuel and I exchange pleasantries during the initial surge of runners. He's really improved over the past few years. It started with the hometown 5K, he always told me his goal was to keep me in sight as long as he could. Every year, he's got closer and closer. Fuel has caught a bit of the runner bug (far different than the flu). His goal is to run a Half Marathon every month for the year and he happened to pick Winter Blast as his February race.  Didn't expect to catch up with him (in conversation) much before he dusted is old neighbor, but we ended up doing the whole race side by side.

How did I come up with the name Fuel for him? One of my earliest memories of him was the scare he put into the whole neighborhood when as a baby he drank pretty much all the kerosene from a lamp.  Luckily, I wasn't babysitting at the time, but I remember the stories that his diapers reeked of kerosene for weeks afterward. Personally, can imagine it tasted good, but that didn't stop him. The fact it didn't kill him, already that proves he'll make for a good runner.

On a day CT was out sick herself, my training and confidence seemed wavering, Fuel is exactly what I needed to help me get through this race. Speaking of history, I may have to retire my shoes early.