What a lovely morning it was. Looking at the sky one could not help but sing “The Simpsons” intro. The air was crisp like a head of iceberg lettuce. Friendly runners alternated between huddling in chatty groups and warming up their legs on the flat plain of asphalt. A huge FedEx plane was parked nearby, a looming reminder of how tiny we little ape creatures are in the vastness of things.
“You too are temporary!” I thought in the plane’s direction, shaking a mental fist. Looking down I saw my feet, the original internet. Not my feet specifically, of course; feet in general, I mean. Feet carried cultures and trades and ideas and news to people far away. As is the way with things, feet were the builders of their own demise. The ideas delivered on spritely toes would lead to other means of locomotion, like planes, rendering feet obsolete. So here we all gather at a foot race, appeasing the ancient animal within that cannot understand the world we’ve created.
Whew! That’s some good coffee. We got the Rwandan Blend at CostCo. I wrote all that in like five minutes. It’s not even 7am yet. Can you feel the caffeine buzz through your monitor? It’s what I was drinking the morning of the race, and likely had something to do with my faster-than-expected homage to our message-delivering past. My official time was 17:38, a PR by 48 seconds. I finished 3rd out of 693. I also consumed a Roctane with x2 caffeine fifteen minutes before the start. Hoo-boy.
Some race highlights, in no particular order:
I didn’t get lost. You’d think that would be impossible racing an out’n'back on an airport runway, but my powers of directional derailment are truly a force to contend with. So you can imagine my shock to see two runners ahead of me accidentally make the u-turn at the one mile mark. “Hey, that’s MY schtick!”
The front of the start line was PACKED. I tried to get in the second row, but could only manage to squeeze into a bit of real estate behind maybe thirty runners. This ended up not being an issue, since everyone went out really fast. I just had to be patient, which isn’t so easy when you’re all jacked up on the Go Juice. Speaking of which, I just downed my second cup. I should stop.
At the turnaround, I was in 5th. The two runners in front of me, both I knew to be very strong runners (great race, Thanh and Paul!), were my focus as the effort became grueling. If I could just hang on…
For breakfast, I ate a small bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, raisins, and walnuts. And coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.
I was hanging on, which leads to the inevitable question: could I pass them? That’s not such a simple question. Even if I could pass them, could I maintain enough speed so they couldn’t return the favor? With about a half mile to go, I decided I could. So I did. Coffee coffee coffee.
Legs spinning cartoonishly fast, I sped up and maintained, trying to put some distance between me and those I just passed. Don’t puke don’t puke don’t puke. Ah, I remember a time when I was afraid of the sense of impending regurgitation. I was so young then, so naive. Now the sensation is excitedly welcomed as an indication that I’ve truly given it my all. The finish line becomes an oasis in the desert where relief is not water but the opportunity to hurl.
The clock finally became legible, and I read 17:20. Satisfaction was chased away by the sound of footsteps at my heels. Approaching the line, that’s where they stayed.
Finished! I slowed to a gentle trot, keeping the nausea at bay. I couldn’t believe it. For years my race pace stayed solidly in the 7min/mi range. This is not the running life I expected.
That’s that. Now I’m going to eat breakfast, which will hopefully dampen the effects of this potent coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.