Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I whine about when I whine about running

Marion, Alain, et moi
So I signed up for my second half-marathon, the Las Vegas half in November. Why would I do this, sane people might ask. It turns out that the amount of effort I have to put in to remaining merely fat and not tipping into the realm of people who need to be cut out of their houses is monumental and nearly insufferable, especially in the US where the food is made of bullshit. Ergo I need motivation to exercise—at the very least the guilt of spending money on an enterprise usually sparks like 25% more activity than if I didn’t have said guilt, and running is cheap, relatively safe, and an activity beloved by my father and one of my best friends. Also, the LV marathon in particular is supposedly really fun (down the strip at night), really flat, and really cold. All of these things appeal to my desire to “run” as lazily as possible. Interestingly, though running just for the sake of running and not getting anywhere still strikes me as a bowl full of crazy, it is also a perfect sport for the borderline introvert/extrovert. Running is a way to be alone but with other people, and instead of talking ad nauseum about nonsense like how we all work for pay and where we grew up and wow, how funny it is that we all like the same tv show, and, geeze, politicians all suck,etc. we can just quietly all bob past each other and like, give each other thumbs up or say “good job.” It’s a wonderful bubble of quiet togetherness and encouragement.
Since I’ve signed up for the “race”-- which I put in quotation marks because I literally don’t think the pace I “run” (let’s just use the word “go”) at would ever be characterized as a pace at which one is “racing” or running, unless it were a “race” against crawling babies—I’ve done a lot of physical activity other than running. Miles and pools of sweat on my elliptical, for instance. Hiking Cowles Mountain has suddenly become very compelling. But I had forgotten a critical fact about running: it is terrible. So, it’s been two weeks since I signed up for this half marathon and I’ve just now gone on my first run. My internal dialogue has a trajectory something like this, “I am a lioness of a woman for getting out and running…wow, it’s only been five minutes…man, this is unpleasant…ugh, my old high school,  why do I run here? Paris was a lot funner and colder to run in…this is so irrational…sunscreen is in my eyes, burning burning, how have we not invented technology to air condition the outdoors?….yes, Robyn, it does hurt with every heartbeat, oh Robyn how are you the dance master of conveying all human emotion…I hate everyone and everything, mostly the ancient greek messengers and that stupid village in the Mexican highlands that inspired the craze that inspired my zero drop shoes…my God, my God, why have you forsaken me…oh, endorphins…weeeeeeeeee…this is still awful, but not more awful than being in high school, I’m so glad I’m not young anymore…wow, I just caught my reflection and I look like Medusa…and…done.”

Luckily I have a modest goal: I just hope to finish before the course is being cleaned up. Why would this be my concern? Well, here is what I wrote to my actionmovie-fast, but supportive of my turtleyness friend, Lisa after finishing the Paris half marathon:

Well, I thought a full run down of ½ marathon day happenings would bore most everyone, except for you! So, as you knew, I was a little trepidatious about the half because of the lack of training and also my cold (which still hasn’t totally gone away, lamely). Anyway, 40k registered, and I think the final tally of starters was like 32 or so. We were in 5 corrals, split from your speed down to mine, mine going last. Dad says they took an inordinately long time to let each corral go, so the gun went off at 10am, but then my chip start time wasn’t until 10:55, which will figure in later. So I started running with two Americans I met who were going at a pace too fast for me, but I knew I would be walking some of it anyway and I figured why not try to go a little faster than normal to hopefully make up for when I knew I would be going slower. This was an interesting experience. First I got my runner’s high way stronger and earlier than usual (which is super sweeeet) but then it also made me thirstier and have to pee WAY more. Which resulted at the 5k mark in my running into the forest and pissing in a bush, and by “forest”, I mean more like a wooded park across from some French homes. I won’t be wearing my bright purple running pants into the 20th arronidssement again, that is for sure.

 Anyway, at around the 11k mark it becomes evident to me that I and the 5 other slowsters around me are in fact the last people still running and that there is a crazy police car weirdly close to me. I was thinking to myself, “do I have enough humility and commitment to come in dead last?” which was weird to me because, while I was very slow, I was still at like the 14 minute/mile mark which I was told would be slow but not like DEAD LAST slow. So I’m like actually doing better than I imagined with my cough, but I’m like having visions of this police car picking me up at the end and parading me around in front of everyone like “this woman here is the last place finisher…tell her what she’s won for this ignominious achievement” (besides what I imagined would be the mocking and chastising glares of other finishers.) so for a few kilometers I was thinking I should just foul out and like try some other race. But then a competing vision in my head was that of finishing and posing with my medal with my father, and that while I would be sad and ashamed for a few minutes, at the end I would say I finished a half marathon and indeed I had the cajones to deal with being last. So I soldiered on as they literally were dismantling the course around us. I caught up with Alain the other seemingly last runner and he was looking at the sweep bus, considering getting on. I said, “I think we are last” and he says “yes” and I say “do you want to finish?” and he says “yes, but I know I won’t if I’m alone.” And at this point I had another mental decision to make because I was getting a bit of a second wind but Alain’s jog was like my fast walk…a phenomenon that has heretofore never occurred, that of me being faster than anyone who isn’t injured or disabled. But I figured since my time was going to suck anyway, and all I wanted to do was finish, I might as well finish in tandem with someone and hopefully help him have a mental victoire as well. So we “ran” in together the last 7k, during which we saw a girl who had totally broken her foot and was being red crossed (I won’t lie that there was a little self-congrats that we weren’t insane enough to actually sacrifice our health). At around 19k we found Marion, who was a new mom and was walking it in because she hurt her calf and also didn’t want to be last.  So we all crossed the finish line, thinking we were last, but last together. First of all, that was incorrect because there were actually secret slowsters well behind us. Also, I finished at like 2:05, which meant that I did a 3:10-3:15, and when we looked at the results there were at least a few people who finished with 3:30 or slower. But they had actually stopped the timer at 4 hours from the gun. This is why my dad said that I got screwed for being honest. I was honest that I was in the slowest corral and so my time didn’t get posted whereas these other people who were in faster corrals finished slower but still within four hours of the gun. And that’s why I don’t have an exact time. So that sort of blows. But it’s not that big a deal. They at least acknowledged that I finished. It’s sort of shitty to know that if we’d managed to just get in like 5 minutes faster we would have been within the gun time. But c’est la vie. I’ve just finished with a super successful whirlwind tour of Paris, Switzerland, and Lake Como in Italy with the parents and I need to detox from all the pasta. So I’ll be running my usual course around the louvre and the Eiffel tower next week, It makes my dad suuuuper jealous.


Anonymous Lisa said...

That email is still one of my favorites of all time. I was/am so proud of you, and even more proud that you've signed up for another round. I literally can't wait for Vegas... I'll start stocking up on glow bling now... :)

4:16 PM  
Blogger 2BlueMom said...

I hadn't read your blog in way too long, but this was awesome. And I'm still really impressed with you. I want to run with you! I agree that running is perfect for the borderline introvert/extrovert. ;)

I finished my first (fully-run) 5K in May (35-36 minutes, somewhere in there) and now want to train for a 10K. I'm not sure if I'll ever aim for a half ... maybe someday.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Jason H said...

This is amazing! Love you, Jules! Good going on the finish!!

8:57 PM  

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