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Friday, April 18, 2008

Is That a Power Bar in Your Pocket, Or ... ?


It’s April 19th today. That means the marathon is….hang on,….borrow ten, carry the two….15 days away.

Oh. Dear. God.

I’ve done all I can to get ready, I think. I ran the miles, I quaffed the mega-ultra-dynamo power drinks that make you pee out more nutrients than half the world’s population sees in a month; I ate Gu, ShotBloks (carbo gel snacks made by Gatorade), a host of energy bars of varying descriptions; I cramped, chafed, sweated, cursed, rejoiced, and I ran, ran, ran. Mile after thumping bloody mile.

I’m sick to death of running. Depending on how the marathon goes, I will either have my tights bronzed or burnt, but I don’t want to spend any more time actually wearing them. I calculated the number of training miles I will have run by the time I get to the start line—it’s 550. I know. I did the math three times. At my haggard 10-minutes-per-mile average, that’s 5,500 minutes (92 hours) I could have spent on my couch. Or doing pretty much anything else.

There are real runners out there. I see them all the time, wafting past me, the little wings on their shoes flapping furiously. I read their comments on the RunnersWorld forums, how they found peace, lost weight, gained self-confidence, had epiphanies, cruised mile after effortless mile, breezed up hills and over dales, even their blisters are fun! fun! fun! They gave up drugs and cigarettes, they kicked coffee, gambling, and bad marriages, they straightened out troubled kids between miles 11 and 13, solved the mideast crises at mile 18 and found an endless, clean, alternative energy source just before bursting through "the wall" at mile 21. They are slim, confident, happy people who love to run. When I see them, I push them down.

OK, it hasn’t been that bad. Actually, some of the miles have been pretty good. Probably not "good" to the point where someone wants to push me down, but at least there have been miles where I was only soggy with sweat and not with misery and tears. I think there were at least 6 like that.

As race day approaches, I’ve started making lists. I’m in the "tapering" part of the training now, which means my weekly mileage is dropping faster than Wile E. Coyote off an unsuspected cliff. Last week (the biggie), 52 miles. This week, 29. Next week, 21. During marathon week, I’ll run only 9 miles over the course of 5 days. The joy of so little is somewhat ameliorated by the massive sink-hole-of-fear-and-trembling 26.2 at the end of the week, but I’m trying to stay positive here. My lists—and there are many, mostly saying the same stuff over and over and over again—consist almost entirely of items like "socks" and "extra socks." I don’t seem to be able to think about the big stuff, so I get there in baby steps like "socks." But then, that’s how I’m getting to the start line of a marathon, so I guess it makes sense.

I’m looking forward to the race, I really am. There’ll be a big crowd, it’s a pretty part of a pretty city (Vancouver), Toasty will be there (yay!), and on Sunday, May 4, when the race is over and no matter how it turns out, I will have an excuse to eat absolutely and without question of guilt or my mom’s well-intentioned voice in my head anything I want. I’ll be able to chat with other runners at the start. I’ll line up somewhere between the greyhounds and the basset hounds, feeling the charge of all the nervous energy buzzing around me like hummingbirds on crack. I’ll lament my stupidity for signing up (a lot and loudly) and promise the Fates that if they just let me live through this, I’ll never be this ass-ignorant again.

I’m trying to have some measure of confidence. After all, I’m not running to compete, and my only goal, really, is to finish under my own power. But as I sit here, imagining the race day, the start line, crossing—for the first time ever—the 20-mile mark (should I get that far), the length, the hills, the miles stretched end-to-end, and, quite frankly, the portapoddies, my heart is beating faster and I kinda have to pee. I’ve worked hard for this, and I don’t want to choke on the day of because my head is full of I-can’ts despite all the miles I’ve put behind me. I know that race-day adrenaline is a powerful drug and can take you far; I’m hoping that training, plus adrenaline, plus some well-timed ShotBloks will get me far enough.

Thanks, everyone, for support, encouragement and patience beyond the call of duty. Thanks especially to Toasty who volunteered to ride alongside me on several loooooong runs (including 2 ugly 20s). He truly is the new generation of male athletic supporter.

One thing I’d really like to pass along to everyone: if you’re out and about and a runner goes by you, particularly if that runner is a little older or slower or chubbier or more desperate-looking than the über-runners who just need to be pushed down, a sincere "You’re looking great!" or "Keep it up!" or just some well-timed applause is worth gold. Trust me on this.

8 comments:

DK said...

You're doing great. Keep the faith! The journey of a thousand miles begins with one energy bar...

BTW - I laughed my ass off at the line about Toast as a male athletic supporter.

NuclearToast said...

Raggs, you're a lot better than you sometimes thinks you are. Which is why I've ridden along with you. Sometimes you just need someone to provide that little psychological push so your mind can catch up with your body.

Now if I can just get you to stop tripping the gazelles as they run past...

Ash said...

OMFG - LOL "male athletic supporter"

Lynn Sinclair said...

Good luck in Vancouver! Sounds like a lot of ... er, fun or something.

Kal-El said...

Goodluck in your marathon this weekend. Kick it's butt.

Progman2000 said...

You're going to rock this thing

DK said...

Kick dat ass!

Raggedy Angst said...

Thanks, everybody. Your support is worth more than I can tell you. Hugznstuf.