First off, a round of applause for our good friend Showtime, who finished her first 10-K in last Sunday’s Marine Corps 10-K. It was a pleasure to text her at 6 AM from my start line to hers, telling her the basics of making sure she was prepped for the race (“Don’t forget to poop first.”).
So how did it go for me?
It did not. Or rather, it went, for about 8.5 miles.
And then the calf balled up into a giant mass of evil nonfunctioning concrete, and the Ace Ventura leg and I hobbled to the med tent.
There was a little bitter weeping as well.
Anyway, Marine Corps Marathon didn’t go that great, and JFK isn’t going to happen for me. Altogether, the relatively constant injury roller coaster is killing me. So. No more running for a while, and definitely no more races until probably Boston in April.
Which means that I hereby declare the end of The Running Log.
You see, I had been considering keeping the magic happening until after JFK, but since that’s not happening, I suppose we just subject the blog to a good old-fashioned mercy-killing.
I suppose I’m being a bit dramatic and Debbie-Downer, fine, OK. But it’s essentially a break-up after two years with the blog. As for running, we’re “taking a break from each other” after more than a decade of constant togetherness. I get sick of it hurting me. It’s sick of me leaving hair on the soap and making that gross phlegm noise every morning.
It was a long time in coming, needless to say.
Anyway, before I bid farewell, I ask you to join me in looking back at the good times, which is only respectful at such a time as this. We’ve been through other injuries. We’ve written a romance novel (and have subjected my parents to the uncomfortable fact that I can, in fact, write a sex scene). We’ve written a cookbook. We’ve learned how to take a good race photo.
These, friends, are valuable lessons, all.
And so I bid you, dear readers, farewell by refusing to end this blog on a low note. Instead, I shall end it by treating you to one final lesson:
How to deal with disappointment.
Sometimes races don’t go your way. Sometimes they only have Powerade at the aid stations, and you spend half of your marathon experience with a heavily acidic stomach throwing tantrums inside your abdominal cavity and sending you into every single portapotty along the racecourse, and a few shrubberies as well. Sometimes your clothing chafes a good half-pound of skin from your body and you are sweating and bleeding and in brain-twisting PAIN for hours on end.
Sometimes you’re just slow.
Sometimes you don’t finish.
This is part of the bargain.
Say it with me:
This is part of the bargain.
Welcome, friend, to the land of affirmations. Find yourself a reassuring statement or a dozen, and say it over and over.
This is what you signed up for.
And this is true. When you sign up to be an incredible high-caliber athlete like yourself (yes, YOU, sweetheart), you also sign up to have incredible high-caliber failures.
Part of being superkickass is having problems superkickyourass.
Totally true. Buck up.
Listen up, self: if you were awesome all the time, running wouldn’t be a challenge.
Again, totally true. Yeah, you could perhaps just casually toss off 3:20 marathons, but it would hardly be fun anymore. It would just be like taking out the trash or sorting socks or breathing.
Don’t get me wrong; being awesome all the time really IS like breathing for me.
Well, duh. Agreed.
But seriously: if you constantly kicked ass, people wouldn’t even believe you were real. They’d think you were an android or the liquid guy from Terminator 2, and they would therefore run in terror when they saw you or try to drop you in a vat of liquid nitrogen, or maybe the government would come after you and try to find the Secret Of The Hardcore Head-Exploding Awesome and kidnap you and bring you to a trailer in New Mexico, where a team of helper monkeys would subject you to a battery of humiliating and grueling tests while government scientists behind a two-way mirror stroke their chins and say things like, “OK, turn it up to 11,” or “This time with more peanut butter,” or “The subject has truly kickin’ gams.”
That is an excellent but awfully long mantra. Maybe try shortening it a bit.
Pain is temporary. Glory is forever.
OK, now you’re just phoning it in.
Runners are guaranteed a place in heaven; they live their hell on earth.
I just vomited in my mouth a little. Plus I think you got that from a No Fear t-shirt, circa 1995.
There have been other races, and there will be other races.
Now that — that is true.
My dear injured running friend (and I by now recognize I’m essentially talking to myself in this post and you readers are all just along for the ride), before I sign off for good, here is the thing:
Things will all work out, as they always have, ever since that first hamstring pull at the eighth-grade conference track meet.
You will again feel the thrum of your massive quads as you power up Macarthur Avenue, past Glen Echo, on a magical, foggy Saturday morning 30-mile run.
You will again power past the Reston Runners on an ultramarathon course somewhere, and you will do the “suckit!” gesture at them as you spray gravel all over their day-glo yellow shirts.
You will again run so much that your metabolism ‘splodes and you find yourself putting your face in a pan of peanut-butter-and-bacon-and-cream-cheese enchiladas every night.
You will rebuild the nasty-looking, knobby calluses on the backs of your heels.
My dear, beautiful animal, my final instructions to you are simply this: keep your chin up and your elbows in and your knees pointing forward and your strike on your midfoot and your stride with minimal bounce. Find someone you can stand running with for hours at a time. If you get tired, pull over.
Drink some beers.
Get lots of sleep.
Get fitted for good shoes.
Don’t forget to poop first.