Monday, June 22, 2015

Ice cold ...


It all started on Thursday morning when I was gums-deep in an everything bagel. I felt this strange sucking sensation in the left side of my mouth and at about mid-chew I realized that the crown on my molar had disengaged. I poked around at jagged tooth fragment with my tongue while drooling swear words and dialing my dentist.

("People still eat bagels?" he would later ask me. Touche, Dr. B.)

Turns out it was my lucky day. It was just a temporary crown, a placeholder while my real crown was being crafted into a porcelain facsimile of a tooth by a team of dental artisans with tiny, nimble fingers. So instead of getting on some sort of emergency visit list, I decided to tough it out through one weekend and one half marathon until my followup appointment on Monday.

This wasn't necessarily the right decision, but what's life without a few spine shaking temperature shocks on an exposed tooth nerve or whatever.

So I was still in the Porta-Potty when the race started. This was a better position than it should have been. I'd pulled one of those look-clueless, insert-self-toward-front-of-line tricks that work so well in crowds of passive Northern folk. So I'd graduated to about fifth in line when they sang the official "Star Spangled Banner" and I was singeing my nostrils with strangers' high-fiber runner waste when the start-horn blasted.

This was the first time I set out to run 13.1 miles without considering that I wouldn't finish or that the whole thing would end with me in with a Saucony-sponsored body bag. I won't say I trained-trained. That was derailed about midway through the 12-week pre-race period. Even though I wasn't running-running, I was still using the elliptical machine and sometimes working out for the duration of two episodes of "The Good Wife." I considered this the equivalent of about a 7-8 mile run. I'm not ridiculous enough to believe that cruising on an elliptical and running on Scenic Hwy. 61 have anything in common and I'm not going to waste my I-Have-A-Toddler card on explaining how it's tricky to get away to perform something that more accurately represents a long run. I knew I would finish. I had no idea how long it would take me. I bored myself by repeatedly saying to well-wishers, "I haven't trained, but I'm in better shape than I usually am."

I planned to smile, point myself west and go.

So that's what I did. Except, for the first time in my personal history of half-marathons, I was cranky. My socks were too thin and my foot was sliding around in my shoe. Some women were wearing matching T-shirts with matching cocky runner statements -- but they were walking. Someone running behind me said to someone else: "So how are your summer classes going?" and then they talked about that for too long.

Some dude chugged up the middle of the road and yelled:

"WHAT'S COOLER THAN BEING COOL?!" And there were a few half-assed "Hey Ya"-approved responses ("Ice cold.")

I spent two miles trying to remember how I knew the woman who had just passed me. I was pretty sure her name was Lisa. We'd met under circumstances that were athletic. Grr. I figured out eventually that she was part of a story I'd written earlier this year, but not before wringing out every ounce of my brain.

I had to dart around parties that ran three-wide and the miles weren't passing as quickly as I'd hoped.

Every time I chugged a drink at a water station, and I hit them all, the liquid blasted my absent molar-spot and made me yowl in pain.

And did I mention my feet, sliding around in my Nikes?

The only part that was working was this mist-o-rain that was absolutely terrific and should accompany every half-marathon. That was incredible. And despite it's corniness, seeing my people parked beneath the Skywalk gave me a nice boost, too.

I finished 15 minutes faster than last year, but about 10 minutes slower than when I last opposite-of-trained and just stayed up all night so I didn't miss the early morning start. I couldn't find my way out of the gated runner area. Chacha insisted on being carried by me for the mile-plus walk back to the car. My socks had holes and were bloodied and, rookie error, I'd forgotten to cut my toenails so my toe skin was shredded into something far more festive looking than a foot.

Then I ate the best omelette ever. I've been limping for two days.

Chacha ran her first race of the season on Friday. She did not win.