WEATHER: Chilly, windy.
MILES THIS WEEK: Erm….13ish.
WHERE TO: Thus far? Barely a block from home today.
MOOD: Fragile in body, lazy in spirit. Also kind of itchy.
Nothing in my body is quite back to any sort of normalcy yet since last weekend. It took a whole three days before I could stand up or sit down without vocalizing. My walk was particularly pitiful-looking, so much so that my editor at work told me on Monday that, instead of me going to talk to him in his office when he hollered for me (for my workplace is the apex of professionalism), we could just yell across the hall to each other.
As it stands right now, running again is still tough. I know, I know; I had planned on a luxurious month or so of doing anything but running post-race. Biking! Power-walking! Jazzercising! 1980s Jane Fonda aerobics videos! Shakeweights! Learning to play the theremin! Calming the house thermostat wars! Working on my issues with relatively innocuous words like “naughty,” “fungible,” and “hosiery”!
But I tried it. And yesterday’s 7.5 mile run with Rusty was fantastically hard, though that’s mainly due to our mutually held complex about letting frat boys in basketball shorts pass us on the mall. I mean, yes, he might only be out for a 1-mile, 6-minute jog, but he’s a CRAPFACE, dammit, and he THINKS HE HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE. Whereas we clearly do not. LET’S RABBIT HIM ALLLLL THE WAY UP THE MALL.
So I’m stalwartly working at resting and not-running for a few more days now. And while I’m sitting here, sucking down my 4th cup of coffee and considering washing my hair, I think I should finally, belatedly let you all know the race details, as promised.
Below, I list all 50 miles of last weekend’s JFK 50-miler, plus start and finish lines, along with the most notable happenings at each point. Here goes:
Pre-race briefing: Sat in Boonesboro High School gym, scoped out my fellow competitors, realized that they all seemed far less intimidating than I would have guessed. Very few were count-all-their-rib-molecules skinny or creepy-sinewy, for example. Very many seemed good-natured and chill, gamely smearing on Body Glide and stuffing their shorts/sports bras with gels. Many others were, however, members of the Reston Runners — which I now understand to be the evil empire of the local distance running circuit. If this mob of day-gl0-yellow, photo-snapping, loudly-laughing-and-squealing-and-freaking-out (it’s five-freaking-thirty AM, kids), unnecessary-stretching joggers were Microsoft, I was planning on being Apple. No, Linux. No, a 12-year-old hacker boy with a nasty disposition.
Also, NO LINE AT THE WOMEN’S ROOM. Because the JFK 50-Miler is also Sausage-Fest Central. True story.
Starting line: Formed with other runners a very unorganized, informal mob on Main Street, Boonesboro at the start line, which was marked only by a long strip of white reflective tape. No banners, no balloons. Two otherwise mature-seeming middle-aged father types next to me had following exchange:
“Dude, I am with child.”
“I am with child, man.”
“…eat a big breakfast? Stomach hurt?”
“No, I gotta drop a DEUCE.”
Mile 1: Found groove.
Mile 2: Steady jog.
Mile 3: Entered Appalachian Trail.
Mile 4: Learned that everyone — fast and slow — was going to walk the uphills, so I might as well take a rest and join in.
Mile 5: Learned that everyone else — fast and slow — also has this thing called “agility.” I have heard people speak of this skill in the past; apparently it allow you to step gracefully over giant rocks and tree roots and go downhill without freaking out or clenching your jaw or flapping your hands in worry or face-planting and also slicing open your knee. For the next 10 miles, concentrated harder than I have since coloring-book-time in Kindergarten.
Mile 6: Created bottlenecks on every downhill, pissing off dozens of runners at once.
Mile 7: Apologized copiously to pile-up behind me as they gingerly picked their way around me.
Mile 8: Shook my fist at God for creating tree roots. And rocks. And non-flat terrain.
Mile 9: Found my aid crew: The Yogi and Rusty. Told them I felt great.
Mile 10: Fell.
Mile 11: Did not fall.
Mile 12: Did not fall. Passed by several Reston Runners, got superpissed.
Mile 13: Did not fall.
Mile 14: Descended The Switchbacks of Doom, which were, I’m certain, designed by Satan while he was PMSing and on a particularly nasty meth binge. In a miracle that rivals any virgin Mary sighting or Vikings win, did not fall.
Mile 15: Found Yogi and Rusty, stuffed sports bra with food.
Mile 16: Stepped onto C&O Canal Towpath, realized had been clenching every muscle of my body in a state of uncoordinated-girl-on-a-hiking-trail-freakout for 2.5 hours. Relaxed, breathed deeply, stuffed face with espresso gel.
Mile 17: Forced self to think of anything but the fact that HOLY SWEET JESUS THERE ARE STILL THIRTY-TH…
Mile 18-19-20-21-22-23: Brain shutdown. Recited Field of Dreams to self. Passed several Reston Runners.
Mile 24: Aid station. Approached by several women volunteers, each asking if I wanted (a) water, (b) Gatorade, (c) Coke, (d) chicken broth, (e) chicken broth with noodles, (f) potato chips or pretzels, (g) gel shots, (h) gummi bears, (i) painkillers, (j) salt tablets. Was told by each that I “looked great!” and was “doing so well!” Fell immediately and passionately in love with each volunteer, in turn.
Mile 25-6: <Field of Dreams>
Mile 27: WHERE IS MY AID CREW WHERE ARE THEY THEY SAID THEY WOULD BE HERE I WILL CUT A BITCH IF THEY DO NOT-
Mile 27.2: Was handed fuel belt by the Yogi, joined by Rusty. Fell immediately and passionately in love with both of them.
Mile 28: Asked Rusty to tell me a story.
Mile 29: Let Rusty’s voice go on in background. Achieved a sort of highway-hypnosis as the C&O section dragged on.
Mile 30: Without warning, began singing “All By Myself” by Celine Dion aloud. Why? Because BORED, that’s why.
Mile 31: Misanthropy set in.
Mile 32-33-34: Mood swings began. As did the singing of 30-second snippets of various songs. I am told that I did this for the most part unintelligibly.
Mile 35: Ate peanut butter Powerbar. Fell immediately and passionately in love with it.
Mile 36: Realizing I would soon regress into spitting new and exciting filthy epithets at fellow runners, the ground, trees, rocks, squirrels, my legs, etc., decided I would drop Rusty at 38 when I found the Yogi, before I said something I would truly regret.
Mile 37: Rusty pointed out 14-year-old girl who had dropped out of race, sitting crying on a footbridge, with man sitting next to her trying to comfort her. Decided I would hunt down her parents and the race organizers and beat them with a wiffle ball bat and my fuel belt, complete with bottles filled with boiling hot Powerade and RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION, because WHAT THE HOLY FREAKING SHIT, people? Really? This seemed like a good idea? Really? Why not just inject her with a syringe full of eating-disorder-virus and take a 9-iron to her knees? It would be quicker and wouldn’t cost the kid $150 or whatever we paid to do this g.d. race.
Planned my attack. Dumbasses.
Mile 38: Obtained my 24-ounce can of Red Bull from the Yogi. “How are you feeling?” he asked. My lip quivered and a lump grew in my throat. Began singing “All By Myself” again as I set off at a death-marchy jog, fueled only by my inexplicably strong desire to reeeeel in the Reston Runners and then belch Red-Bully-goodness as I blew past them.
Mile 39: Drank Red Bull. Fell immediately and passionately in love with the Yogi. And that birch tree. And the clouds and the gracefully falling leaves. And my legs and my running shoes. And my miraculously non-blistered feet. Cartoon hummingbirds appeared, stringing a garland of daffodils about my shoulders as they chirped “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Rusty: Are you really going to carry that Red Bull the whole race?
Me: <grunt of assent>
Rusty: I got it. Lemme know when you need it or when you’re done.
Me: <decides to write letter to Pope demanding Rusty’s immediate canonization>
Mile 41: More Red Bull. Mood swings restarted. Passed with-child-guy from start line.
Mile 42: Left C&O, entered rolling-country-roads section.
Mile 43: “You’re doing it!” said Rusty. “You’re doing it!”
I inhaled deeply and considered how close I was to the end, feeling the exhilaration wash over me. I turned to him with wide, glassy eyes.
“If you jinx this,” I said, “I will bite out your eye while you sleep.”
He held out the Red Bull.
“The left eye,” I said, sloshing yellow corn syrup taurine caffeine go-juice all over my body.
Mile 44: More 5-second romances with volunteers, particularly whoever gave me the Tylenol. But then quickly cheated on Tylenol lady with chicken broth guy, who had broth with noodles.
Mile 45: Did not cry.
Mile 46: Did not cry.
Mile 47: Did not cry.
Mile 48: Threatened the lives of several local drivers, as well as two douchey 20-something gentlemen (IN LONG, BASKETBALL-STYLE SHORTS) who kept passing me and then getting passed BY me. Did not cry.
Mile 49: Did not cry.
Mile 50: Stared at my beautifully painted fingernails, noting that it was probably good that I stayed up an extra hour the night before, painting them and my toenails, because they were likely the biggest factors in my victory. Sang “The Final Countdown.” Rusty gamely joined in.
Finish line: Immediately burst into tears. Received hugs from Yogi and Rusty, as well as college ladyfriends The First Jew and Showtime, who had driven out just for the occasion. Showtime handed me flowers and red balloons. The First Jew played a ukulele rendition of “99 Red Balloons.” I somehow doubt that, if a ukulele version of “99 Red Balloons” has ever been played before in the history of mankind, it inspired the listener to get all misty. Well, here’s to firsts.
So perhaps this post was super-long and didn’t have my usual unhinged nut-jobbiness, and also didn’t exactly explain how to run a 50-miler or give you strategies for coping with the exhaustion. But you got to the end, and I commend you. So let me just sum up with this:
1) It was great. Life-changingly, mind-bendingly, punch-the-air-and-hug-a-stranger great.
2) You should do one. Really, you should.
2.5) …but bring the Yogi and Rusty with you.
That’s all, kids. Planning new adventures and new races! Open to any suggestions.