WEATHER: Beautiful! 85ish and non-humid and beautiful! Tralala!
MILES THIS WEEK: 15ish.
WHERE TO: C&O Trail
MOOD: Fantastically excited.
Today we started the hardcore tapering, meaning that this week’s long run was under 20 miles. Yeah, it disturbs me, too. But that’s how it goes when you have 13 DAYS UNTIL RACE DAY! Ohhhh I can’t breathe for the vast quantity of excitement coursing through my veins right now (that and the lack-of-blood-sugar in said veins, as I am waiting patiently at the Apple store for my files to alll back up onto a hard drive and I will have to wait here much longer, apparently, and I haven’t eaten in forever, so that is sort of fiddling with my bodily/breathing/metabolic functions as well) (anyway).
Grandma’s Marathon in 2 weeks. I am running it this time with the illustrious C., whom you may remember from blogposts of yore. And if you don’t,
you are not sufficiently loyal and you can go straight to hell allow me to give you a quick rundown: C. is a delightful person w/ whom I went to college, and who is now doing Ironmans.
You regular readers will notice a pattern here, and that is that EVERYONE I KNOW is now doing Ironmans. Perhaps you are experiencing this, too.
Welcome, my dear runner friend, to a new stage of life. We all hit it. Here it comes, ready to smack you in the face and take your lunch money and melt your Crayolas: the stage of your life where all of your running friends decide that running just isn’t enough anymore. It seems to happen in the mid-to-late-20s. Your friends one Sunday wake up super-early for a weekend 30-mile slog, still feeling the hangover from the supergiant slog the previous day, and they say, “Is this all there is?” And they suddenly come to believe that running is a sad, meaningless existence and that what will make them happier is something more fulfilling.
Yes, welcome to:
The Stage in Life Where All Your Friends Decide to Do Ironmans.
This is unsettling. These are people you knew when you all were just starting out together. “Ain’t nobody going to tame this wild running stallion!” you all hollered, hopping into your skivvies and going out for a wild and crazy tear around town. “We are young and wild and free and beautiful!” You sat on the Boston Marathon bus together while all these Ironman converts, all of them serious-looking men in their mid-30s, in between conversations about their 401(k)s and their latest colonoscopies and Rogaine regimens, went on about their tri-suits and how they run slower now, and how there’s a commitment necessary, yes, but how rewarding it was. And you and your running-only friends laughed and laughed. Look at these squares! you said. If that is ever me, please just jam a Hammergel down my gullet and leave me for dead.
And now your friends have betrayed you.
But come ON, you think. Not everyone needs to conform, and certainly not me.
But oh yes, apparently everyone does. And you realize this when your Ironman friends sit you down on your futon and sit across from you, on the coffee table, sandwich your hands in theirs, look concerned, and speak in soothing tones:
“You can’t keep living like this forever,” say your Ironman friends, as you ice your tender plantar fascias from your latest shenanigans.
But yes I can, you think. These people don’t even know! I am a freeeeee bird!
“You’re just going to keep getting hurt, running around the way you do!” they say.
Pshhh. Whatever. You have no need for this shit. It looks troublesome and, really, expensive to even get into. Buying the gear, paying the entry fees, just the whole hoorah of starting it all seems like way more fanfare than you’re comfortable with anyway, amiright? Right. You have to hunt around endlessly for the right race, then find a perfect gym, buy all the trappings, and pretty soon you’ve barreled through and lost your Ironman virginity without even really thinking about it and the next thing you know, you just go along with the whole thing, hum-drum, rum-tee-tum, get up, do your swim-biking brick workouts mindlessly, crank out maybe an Ironman or 2 per year, and pretty soon you have multiple bikes to lug everywhere, plus all the gear and pretty soon you have bike grease all over even your GOOD workout clothes, and you look down one day and say, “What happened?”
And, yeah, your friends and parents and people are impressed — “How do you DO it all?” they say. And you will shrug modestly, which is hard, given how huge your shoulders have gotten from all the blasted swimming. Your parents pull out wallet-sized photos to show their friends. “This is our DJ’s bike collection,” they say proudly. “And thank God she’s settled down and not out fooling in the middle of nowhere anymore where she could get eaten by wild herons.”
So everyone is happy, but maaaaybe not you. Noooo, sweetie. Now there is an itch. There is an itch deep within you, in a completely un-scratchable place. No, stop taking off your pants. It’s in your very soul, my friend. For you feel that you are missing something. Something has been lost.
Because, you see, this is what all of us runners who refuse to settle into the Ironman lifestyle secretly know: If we signed onto this crazy hundreds-of-biking-miles nonsense and learned how to actually swim and started hanging out with other triathletes and stopped thinking about our crazy ultramarathoning days, one day we would just be out, biking along the Crescent Trail in a big yelling “BIKE TO THE RIIIIGHT!” pack
of a-holes, knocking the odd jogger out of the way, and then while passing through Bethesda, you would see it:
The perfect race.
You come to a screeching halt on your carbon-framed bike (which has a 30-year payment plan to rival your student loans).
There is a starting line right there. A big, gorgeous starting line. Mmmm, you didn’t know they made ‘em like that before. It’s just so…so…well-organized.
Well-dressed, too, with a banner that says, “Bethesda First Annual 100-Mile Classic.”
You stop and ask a jogger on the path: “What race, praytell, is that heavenly thing?”
“That,” says the runner, breathless not only with exertion but with excitement at the prospect of one day working up the courage to even approach that starting line. “That is the most beautiful-looking race ever.”
It is. And with its numerous aid stops and large prize money, it also looks generous and well-endowed. It wants to provide for you and feed you and make you feel like a woman again. You simply. Must. Do it. Immediately.
But ohhhh no, you can’t. Sorry. You aren’t in shape for it. You haven’t thought about such fun things in years. You look down at your bike–
“COME ON!” yell your triathlon buddies, who are stupid stupid STUPID because they are blind and they just don’t see what you see. Whereas you see what could have been. And you look down at your tired, frumpy old bike, which is trusty, yes, but also putting on the miles and by now is just not quite performing like it used to, and you feel nothing but disdain, and then you break down right there on the path, torn between lust for the trail and devotion to dependable, boring old Ironmans.
And so you cry and cry, not only for your lost days of glory, but also because this analogy is running out of steam and is also getting intensely personal and you suddenly have the urge to sign up for ecupidokloveharmonymatchmaker.com like five times in one sitting. Which is weird. We were only talking about running, right?
Keep the faith, Ironman athletes. I truly do respect you, despite my unnecessary jabs every once in a while. That, and I wish you all would stop running me off the Crescent Path. I am seriously thisclose to snapping, only I’m afraid to fight people with big freakshoulders.