Earlier this week my old/new friend Joe casually mentioned (threw down a gauntlet) the upcoming 5K race at the HUGE tourist festival in our resort town. We traditionally avoid crossing the bridge onto the island during this whole weekend, and I would have used that as my internal excuse as if I needed another one besides I HAVEN’T BEEN RUNNING and I FUCKING DIDN’T WANT TO but when someone throws down a gauntlet (Joe says “what? All I did was ask if you were running in it.” and to that I say whatever man. you asked me ON MY FACEBOOK WALL) what the hell else are you supposed to do.
Well I don’t know what you guys do, but what I do is register for the damn race. Whatever, it’s a 30 minute race. Okay, 35. OKAY, 37. Ish. They’re just calf muscles. They heal.
To prepare, since I had four days, I did what anyone in my position would have done: Jack shit-well, except abstain from the firebowl/Pandora.com/coconut rum-with-a-shot glass-after-everyone-else-is-asleep late nights. (oh, by the way. could you cut some more firewood, honey?) Nobody wants to be the one runner in the Saturday morning 5K that has to stop and vomit a 1/2 mile in. There’s always somebody, especially in a town famous for a drink called Pirate’s Punch that’s served in a 32 ounce souvenir cup at the local bar called the Palace Saloon. Side note: Once, my friend and I decided to put straws in our Pirate’s Punch cups and race them to the bottom like mind erasers. 1) BRAIN FREEZE. 2) Very early bedtime that evening. So glad I wasn’t a runner back then.
almost almost almost
Back to the race, which I did run, vomit free. I believe my new custom will be as last time, less sleep is better; more coffee is good. Why break tradition when the formula seems to work so well. I couldn’t sleep, as is my habit, until after 1 a.m. and was awoken rudely by Joe THREE FULL MINUTES before I specified my wakeup call. Had my internal debate about pre-race coffee, looked up the pros and cons on runners world forums again and decided the ritual and the caffeine was worth the risk (again), almost left without breakfast (again) and arrived too early at the race site (again).
Only this time I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t nervous. I knew because I have only run a handful of times lately that my time would be slow that I didn’t care about time and being humiliated by mine(there’s ALWAYS someone slower, even if they are 4), and I had a friend there so whatever. Race cherry popped. It’s all downhill from here; it’s all chasing that first race high. (I’m doing a 10K next. If a 5K is good, a 10K must be better.)
Plus: a 30 minute race, ho hum. (All RIGHT, 35-37 minutes. Fine.) I found my friend from last time and he’s gonna do it barefoot! yay!, fielded eleventy million questions about my weird toe shoes and we got into the pack. Right up front. I love making the high school boys trip over me. Just kidding, I’m back with the strollers, I know my place in the hierarchy.
Joe goes, “It takes me a while to get going. Then I can turn it on”
I go, “It takes me a while to get going. Then I never turn it on. I also don’t sprint. Ever. I don’t know how. So when we start together and you want to speed up, just go.”
Side note: I say I don’t know how to sprint but it’s really that I don’t have any muscles in my legs. I’m not sure what lifts them up and down to run. I think it’s just strings from my brain to the soles of my feet. I’m a big marionette. Little marionette, whatever.
I never saw Joe again. I thought “either he lapped me a long time ago, or he’s hurt” I stopped to walk about 1 mile in when I got a little side cramp and figured “well if he’s back there he’ll pass me right now” and he didn’t.
Blah Blah Blah run run run. I didn’t run with music. The girl next to me for a while had great music. I wish I could have stayed with her bad ass mix, but she was too slow. I can’t believe I just said that, can you? She probably passed me at some point and beat me by 8 minutes. Whatever, at 1.5 miles she was dragging ass and not doing the Dust Brothers justice.
At the finish, I had a decision to make. I knew my time was irrelevant-but I’m 37 years old. I don’t like crowds, new things, or being in front of people. I wouldn’t call what I did a sprint, but I ran hard. Ish. You could say I “finished strong”. And when I ran under a clock with a big 31 on it, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, until Joe called my name and said “did you see your time?” And that’s when I knew I wasn’t hallucinating and their clock wasn’t broken.
It’s not newsworthy, but if every little roll out of bed half nights sleep 5K will net me a couple minute improvement on my time for a while, I might just be as fast I want to be here before too long. I know I didn’t earn this, and I know I could be so much better, and I know all I need to do is weights, and eat better, and supplement, and gain some mass, and blah, and blah and blah and blah.
But thanks universe. For the gimmie. That was a big righteous move and I won’t forget it.