I knew the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon was going to be brutal when I went outside this morning at 4:30 a.m. and the air was thick and swampy, like a headlock in the wrong person's armpit.
In the days preceding the run, I realized a) that a person could die doing this; b) that I hadn't even considered not running this year, for the first time in like ever, and that I could always pull a DNF [Did Not Finish] if I wanted to. It's not like I have something to prove. I'm not going to be spotted by a sideline talent scout who says, "You know, she lopes a little, but I see something we can work with in her form."
At mile 4, I decided to drop out. This was stupid. I hadn't yet eased into anything that even resembled a groove. I'd been tired at Mile 2, and every step from then on was like Quasimoto slow dancing.
"I'm done," I said to my friend Lil Latrell, in from Kansas for the race.
We exchange well-wishes, and I hobbled off to the shoulder of the road.
When you are suffering during something like this, you look around and all you see running past you, are: the old, the overweight, the dyslexic, the girl you refer to as "The Clomper" from the YMCA, and the amputees. It's like a circus side-show filled with people who are better runners, regardless of that gaping boil, oozing wound or legal blindness.
The problem with quitting at Mile 4 is that there is nowhere to go. I could drag myself into a medical drop off, but it's not like I was having an asthma attack or sun stroke. I mean, I had my period, but that's only a viable illness to an elementary school nurse. I was simply stricken with "Hot damn it's hot, and I did not prepare well for this event." It's hard to get sympathy or ointment for that. And Mile 4 is still on the outskirts of town, meaning I'd still have to cover 3ish miles to get to civilization.
So I started running again. And walking. And running. And stopping at every water stop, and running through every sprinkler, and cursing every asshole with a cowbell. I took a shot of Ultima, the official drink of the marathon, and it tasted like Vodka.
At about 5 1/2 miles I saw Latrell in the distance and caught up to her.
"Psyche," I said, running up next to her.
She was having hip pains and a case of the damn-its-hots, too. So we stuck together, running a mile, walking .25ish, running again. And soon enough we were at the halfway point, and then we were downtown, and then we were just three miles from the finish.
It seemed my DNF was not going to take.
We saw Latrell's family on the sidelines, Moccasins, and Chuck was at the Luce corner. We managed to be running for each of these sightings. HaHa, suckers. Tricked you.
Then the wheelchair racers started rolling past.
"Well, sure," I said to Latrell. "They don't even have to run."
On the homestretch, I looked at my friend and said "Let's pass some of these people." We cranked it up and left tens of people in our dust, and crossed at the exact same time. By then, I thought the whole thing was uproariously fun, and my nose started to do the cry-tingle.
"That was fun!" I said, exhilerated. Truly believing that.
Latrell glared at me.
Our time was like 2:31ish. Way slower than last year.
Then we were herded toward the free food. Jenny O turkey sandwiches. So damn good, despite it's blatant lack of liquid. Potato chips, water, raisins. A strawberry. And the greatest food of all time, Cotton Candy Dip n Dots. I had no idea. Turns out I like those a lot.
I almost fainted waiting for my bag of clothes.
Then we had to walk 5000 miles back to the car.
Then I took a long, long, nap, embedding the pillow with my stinky face.