I was a late entry. After the half-marathon last Saturday, I wasn't sure how long it would take my limbs to stop tingling and actually function -- instead of dangling from my body like decorative, ornaments. Turns out it always takes two days to feel better. It seems funny that one day the word "Ouch" bubbles out of my face involuntarily every time I move. The next day I don't even notice that I'm walking up stairs.
This is an ideal run. I love midnight. It's so much better than those morning races -- a circus of anemic bags of bones lubing their nipples and trying not to accidentally slit their wrists on jutting hips. I don't trust morning people one bit. Especially not the kind who hop out of bed and onto a starting line. Its ... showoffy.
I had no idea what to expect, but knowing that Duluth gets drowsy after the 10 o'clock news, I figured I'd be one of 42ish runners and I mentally prepared myself to come in last place. I used to come in last place in the first cross country meet of the season every year. It was an alumni event, and I like to think I was doing the class of '67 grads a favor. Granted, they usually won, but you rewrite your history, and I'll rewrite mine.
So there were like 575 people at this thing. Young, old, walkers, sprinters, me, Blitz, Bubbles, and that good old fashioned smell I recognized from when I was athletic: Sweaty shoes. God bless it. REO Speedwagon playing over a sound system. A common fumbling with safety pins. That catty inner monologue that says: "Oh, Jesus. Please let me beat that woman dragging an oxygen tank."
Logistically, this is a pretty informal event. Consider 575 people packed onto what is relatively a thin strip of Lakewalk. It's hard to jostle into position. And it's dark, meaning you're one bum-stride from ACL surgery. The start is narrow and so is the end, so times are more of an estimation.
But damn if being cheered on by drunks hanging over the railing at The Rex and Baja Billy's isn't golden. Running throw pockets of beer breath. No sunburns or heat strokes.
I had no idea how I'd do. Let's just say I won't be getting any calls from Champion, asking me to be the spokes model for their sports bras. But I just wanted to make sure I finished in less than a half hour, which I did -- hauling my ass to the end in about 29. I was schooled by both Blitz and Bubbles, and I'm guessing about 350 other strangers. But it was totally fun. I've gotta start doing this stuff more often.