Friday, October 2, 2015

It's Racing Season, Bitches! (Otherwise Known as "When Will My Dumb Ass Ever Learn?")

A few months ago, I ran my 8th half marathon.

It didn’t go well.

I only have one rule for myself when I run races of any distance:  I have to run the entire way.  I don’t care if my run—especially at, let’s say, miles 10, 11, 12, and 13—looks more like a broken-down shuffle that, in all actuality, is slower than my walk.  I still have to run the whole way.

Once, I was behind two girls who were walking during mile 11 of a half marathon.  It was a particularly tough route, and I remember pitying them because they’d given up, thinking to myself, “Jeez, girls…you’ve trained all this time for this, and you’re going to walk?

And then, despite my pain, I suddenly began to laugh at myself, and it was the only time throughout that entire race that I cracked a genuine smile.  Because I realized that although they were walking, they were walking at a pretty brisk clip and I could not pass them even though I was jogging.  I was kind of doing one of those straight-up-and-down jogs where I was moving, per se, but I wasn’t really moving forward.

Have you ever tried to run a half marathon using a run-in-place strategy?  It doesn’t work that well.

So I could pity them all I wanted for their chosen method in finishing a half marathon—but they were going to finish before me.

Still, I run a half marathon in an okay time; I usually finish between 2:10 and 2:15.  And I’ve done enough of them to know that no matter how shitty I might feel at any late point in the race, I will run the whole way (however slowly), and I will finish.

It didn’t surprise me, then, that the week before my 8th half marathon, I was feeling pretty confident.  It just so happened that it was one of those oddly social weeks, the likes of which a 38-year-old hardly has anymore; one of those weeks when a girl realizes that she has a ton of friends—probably more than she even really wants—and they all just happened to be really, really thirsty for beer on separate nights of the same week.

And who am I to say no to friends who are kind enough to ask me along for a drink or several?

Apparently I’m not. I’m not anyone to say no, because I enjoyed a few drinks several nights out of that week with several different groups of friends.  I partied like I was 22 years old—and I’m not; like I said, I’m 38—and I hardly got any sleep, because on top of it all, I’m a night owl.  The vicious cycle continued each morning when I would dehydrate myself further by chugging cup after cup of coffee in order to stay alert at work.

The race was out of town, so the night before, my husband and boys and I stayed with some friends who lived there.  I was sipping my second Newcastle when my husband shot me a glance, his eyebrows raised in concern.  “You have a race tomorrow…” he said.

I smirked.  “Bitch, please,” I said.  “It’s only 13 miles.  People run 13 miles like every day.”

You don’t run 13 miles every day,” my husband reminded me.

“Yeah, but I could,” I insisted. And then, a little more quietly, “Probably.”

When I finished my second beer and opened a third, my husband gave me that look again.  “Shay,” he said, “you’re not going to enjoy running tomorrow.  You’re going to be all dehydrated.  I haven’t seen you drink any water lately…”

“I had a cup of water a few days ago,” I retorted.  “Leave me alone, will you? I know what I’m doing.”  I grimaced at him, slouching into my beer with my best bratty pose.

My husband shrugged, and I knew that I was going to work my phantom balls off the next day to make sure I got my best time ever in a half marathon—just to prove him wrong.

Except the next day came, and the race started, and immediately—like, from the moment my feet started moving—I felt like shit.  My legs were heavy, my breath came out all raggedy, and I kept thinking that once I got over the beginning hump, once my body had hit mile 2 or 3 and was warmed up, it would get better.

But it never did.

I swear I almost called my husband at mile 9 (because I was totally running slowly enough to whip my phone out of its armband and dial him up) but even though I knew he would encourage me rather than say “I told you so” (He would save that for later, when I was finished and happy enough that I wasn’t dead that I could stand to hear it without punching him), I simply didn’t have the energy.

At that point, a friend who was also running the race but had decided to run it a bit more slowly than normal because of a hurt leg came running up beside me.  I could tell from the happy little huffing I heard as he sidled up next to me that he was really enjoying the race—and it pissed me off.

“How’re you doing, Shay?” he asked, all smiles despite his gimp leg.  I swear, if he’d had a ponytail, it would have been doing that cheerful bobbing thing at the back of his damn happy head.

“I’m awful,” I said, spitting out the words between gasps for air.  “How many more miles do we have left?”

He looked down at his mile-counter watch—because he’s one of those.  “A little more than 3 ½ miles,” he answered, chugging right along, all jaunty and shit.

“THREE AND A HALF MILES?!” I shouted, but since I couldn’t really breathe, it came out as more of a choked whisper. “Are you goddamned kidding me??”

Before he could answer, I found the strength to turn my head in his direction and add “DICK.”  Somehow it made me feel better.

“Um, I’m just going to run on ahead,” he said quickly.  “You cool?”

“NO.”

“Okay, see ya!” he shouted over his shoulder as he hurried off.

I finished the race—oh, I finished, alright.  But not before breaking my own cardinal rule about walking.  I had to walk about a mile of the race because I’d been so goddamned cocky during the days leading up to it, choosing dark, delicious Newcastles and no sleep over hydrating properly and heading to bed at a reasonable time.

When I crossed the finish line, my husband was waiting with a big bottle of water and a coffee from McDonald’s.  I wanted to thank him but could only find the strength to hold up one sad, crooked little finger in the universal “just a minute” gesture as I stumbled past him, out of the way of other finishers, and leaned over to clutch at my knees while I tried to catch my breath.  I knew I was a sight to see—a sweaty, red-faced, hungover wheezing mess to whom I’m surprised no first aide worker on the scene offered an inhaler.

“You were right,” I told him when I could breathe again. “You were right, hubs, and I was wrong.  More water, less beer!”

I learned a lesson by eating that big old slice of humble pie. Actually, I learned three:

1.)    You must always sign up for another half marathon after a bad one in order to cancel out the shitty memories.  It’s race season, bitches, and there’s no season I enjoy more.  I just signed up for my 9th; I’ll let you know how it goes.
2.)    I don’t like humble pie.  I hate humble pie.  It’s gross.
3.)    MORE WATER, LESS BEER.  But only in the weeks leading up to a half marathon. Otherwise, more beer, less water is a ton of fun.

Happy running!!


6 comments:

  1. Ok I'm just impressed that you ran even hungover. A few weeks ago I had a bloggie gathering and got DRUNK.. On the Jack drunk. And then I had to drive people like 5 hours. I was dieting and ordered the eggs benny AND a coke for breakfast because OMGFUKKKKK. So you win way bigger than me, if that helps!

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL Shay! Although I do prefer beer. But I'm not a runner so there's that. You crack me up! Go drink some water right now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. See, I prefer a dark, delicious Newcastle to running also. Which is why I don't run. I just work out really, really hard 30 minutes a day. Then I don't have to drag my ass through some miserable race for 2+ hours. Quality over quantity...or something like that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HAAAAhhaaaaa. Laughing at your expense in MN.
    you crack me up!
    You're only 38?
    Bitch!!! xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Because I can't find it, I won't use a name, but the Packers back in the early days of the Super Bowl had a huge day from a hung over wide receiver. So there's that. They should put Newcastles at all odd-numbered miles along the course as motivation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm still impressed. If I'd had beer the night before a race the only running I'd be doing is to the bathroom!

    ReplyDelete