Well, let’s see. So far…
I have run for sight at night.
I have run for breast cancer (twice).
I have run for arthritis.
I have run for color (three times).
I have run for vampires.
I have run for beer (twice).
I have run for gays.
I have run for diabetes.
I have run for chocolate and fondue.
Now, I have run for pumpkin pie, as well.
May I never utter the words “This race will be cake” again. Both times, they have turned around to bite me square in the ass. I was lulled by the course description. “Flat and fast.” Surely, it was going to be easy. I was just going to blaze my way around it. I had been seeing so much progress lately; how could I not?
Earlier in the week, I ran 6.5 for our run club. Then the preceding day, I ran 6.5 for my weekly morning run with Christina. My muscles were fairly burnt, and my feet were growing blisters on top of blisters. Still, I thought, no problem.
The 10K began after the 5K finished so later in the morning. An unseasonably warm November sun beat down on us. When we finally wormed our way out of the starting chute, I dropped into my normal pace, holding back my race excitement and confidence that I would breeze through the route.
The race retaliated nearly immediately. The first mile was so long. Wave after wave passed my steady jog. The heat welled up inside me, tempting nausea. And I felt every step of the week’s miles. My legs felt exhausted already, moving like slabs of lead. My ass cheeks ached and whined. I told myself to keep wogging because the first two miles are always the hardest.
And it did get better after the first two miles. It just did not get good.
I continued to plug along, waiting for my float, hoping to hit my stride. Bursts of ease seemed to tease at the idea but never manifest. I had to work for every stride. I just felt tired and slow. I found myself wishing that I could just look like a runner, instead of a flustered, buffing basset hound. I wished I could just run and have it feel easy, just improve to what I considered to be other runners.
I tried to focus on the scene, trick myself into finding some euphoria and distraction. When I race, I never wear headphones. I don’t want to put my mind somewhere else to make it through the time. I want to be in the moment; I want to be present. Even through the pain. I focused on the bright sun igniting the fall leaves against the downtown buildings and the flocks of geese taking off in a froth of tiny waves on the lake.
It wasn’t quite enough. But I just kept wogging. I didn’t stop or walk or slow down. I just kept wogging.
The route snaked through the park ahead of me in a mass of bobbing bodies. It looped around through the start and began again. There were several switchbacks. For the first couple, I folded back to see Trisha jogging along behind me. I reached out to give her a high five. Each time, I was energized. I wasn’t alone; someone was wogging with me.
When I passed the halfway point, I saw the clock counting up from 35 minutes. I knew I would not make my goal of 1:05. I was not surprised with how I felt, but I will still disappointed. Now it was about finishing.
I found my body looking for hills. My legs were anticipating pushing hard up the incline then coasting down the decline. I used to live on flat. I have spent the past six months fantasizing about running easy on the flat. Now the flat has become challenging and problematic. Foreign. I never thought I would see the day.
Twenty degrees cooler on rested muscles would have been a different run, but that doesn’t matter. This is the race I ran. It didn’t make me happy. It didn’t feel good; I didn’t float or find any euphoria; I was not pleased with my performance. But it just was what it was. Have to keep running.
Then there was pie. It was cold pie out of a box with no whipped cream, but it was still pretty tasty as we walked back to the hotel. It wasn’t my worst race, but it was far from my best.
We made a weekend out of the race since it was in Denver. We went up Friday night, got our packets, checked into the hotel, and went out for drinks. Then after the race, we went to lunch then to Dave and Buster’s to meet a friend who was with me in Iraq. The awesome bookending the less-than-awesome run experience helped make it totally worth it.