Sunday, June 17, 2018

My half-marathon: poisonous nature pee versus under-butt chafe ...

Here I am with my friend Brooks before the race, before I knew that I'd descend into mega-mediocrity. 

I had no idea what to expect from my fifth, sixth less than tenth Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. My longest training run was a 10-miler and it was a mess. I'd felt like I was clomping around in oversized Reebok volleyball shoes on that bone-searingly hot day. My best pre-run run was a more recent 5-miler, in which I set a personal land-speed record on my 4th mile. I shared the stat with anyone who has ever used a mile as a form of measurement.

Me: "I ran a 5:58 mile last weekend on the Munger."
Former Landlord: "No you didn't."
Me: "No, really, I did."
Former Landlord: "Those mile posts out there aren't accurate."
Me: "I was using an app on my phone that uses GPS."
Former Landlord: "You can't trust technology."
Me: "YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ME RUN IN MORE THAN DECADE, YOU HAVE NO IDEA IF I CAN RUN A 5:58 MILE."
Former Landlord: "You can't."
Me: (Loads Map My Run, shows off splits): "7:40, 7:17, 7:30, 5:58, 7:31."
Former Landlord: "See? There's no way that one mile was more than a minute faster. You can't trust technology."
Me: "It's downhill."
Former Landlord: "Still."
Me: "Even if it's 20 seconds off, I still ran a 6:18 mile, and that's amazing, too."
Former Landlord: "Didn't happen."
Me: (Brain explodes, resorts to shouting): "ALRIGHT BIG BOY, LET'S GO. RIGHT NOW. I'LL RACE YOU."
Former Landlord: "Heh. Lawler thinks she ran a 5:58 mile because her phone said so."

Deep breath. The actual race day story is as ho-hum as my actual time: 2 hours, 5 minutes, 55 seconds. Or something. It is, technically, my second-best time and better than last year. But last year, during much of my training, I was recovering from a back problem. This year I've just been more into yoga and by 10 p.m., my designated run hour, I've been collapsing into a sweating heap of snores.

I started to feel like I was lugging frozen slabs of beef, instead of just human thighs, at about the midway point. Then my toes started to twinge and I started to think the phrase "Arthritic toes. Arthritic toes." I don't necessarily have them, but I just found out that they are something some humans do have. I get like this.

At one point I thought: "I could just quit. Go straight to the part where I devour a victory omelet."

At another point I realized that I was going to do better than 2:10, so I should suck it up, finish and then limp all over town so everyone would know I was part of Grandma's Marathon weekend.

Two years ago I set a world record: 1 hours, 59 minutes and some amount of seconds. I'd wanted to beat 2 hours, it was consuming me. I remember being nervous at the starting line and then thinking: "Oh. This is what it means to care. To train for something and not want all that training to be in vain. To fear failure."

Then I thought: "Well, this feeling blows."

Yesterday was a perfect day -- just what I'd ordered off the Great Half-Marathon Weather Menu. It was 51 degrees and overcast. The Aerial Lift Bridge, instead of being a visual cue representing the finish line, was buried in fog. I'd done everything right: Downloaded my Super Chill Spotify playlist and queued up Map My Run instead of relying on the modern conveniences of being able to use the internet to its full capabilities in a remote part of the state.

It was a day that really shoulda, coulda been a record-setting day.

Somewhere near Mile 12, my Map My Run app malfunctioned and told me I'd run a 5 minute mile, and I raised my fists to the air and cursed Silicone Valley and its (spits word) technology.

She thinks she ran a 5 minute mile because her phone said so.

I couldn't get my slabs to sprint in toward the finish and, once I crossed the line, a photographer friend caught my pissiest Finish Line face. There I am, Quasimodo'ed with deep, dark sweat rings circling each nipple and my bloated stomach like a hand-drawn caricature of middle age gas pain.

Afterward, while eating my victory omelet, I felt something weird on my under-butt. I scooched uncomfortably, poked at it and remembered my pre-race nature pee.

Did I squat in something poisonous," I wondered, "Or is this chafe the reason one should always wear dri-fit fabric instead of yoga pants when running without thigh gap."

I pictured the Athleta catalogue, divided into different sections for different sports. Makes sense now.