The Run. is now. over. At least for us. Barry has the hard part from here. Becky and I are groaning as we get out of bed, or off a chair. Downing Tylenol, and wondering why anyone in the right mind would agree to run for over two hours straight, and then wondering why so many people would agree to run for over two hours. From what I understand, some people enjoy running. Very interesting. I tend to think those people are a little "off."
(We took one picture before we started, and had no desire to further document the day, so I will have to resort to word pictures, and possibly a re-enactment.)
So our day started like none other on our vacation, an alarm set for 5:30. Not that I was real tired or anything that early, since I had been in bed for 2 days, with achy muscles and chills. The bug that caught Becky earlier finally caught up with me. I really did not want to run. But the day before, Becky and I had finally discussed it, and said that the run must happen, even if we had to walk it out.
A few bites of grits and scrambled eggs made up the majority of the last couple of days food for a big run. That probably does not follow the prescribed preparation for a ton of exercise in a short amount of time. That and trying to force down a few more swallows of gatorade. I wasn't hungry. Then out to the car. Cold. How can it be so cold? O! I haven't been outside in two days! Well, it is 41 F, and it is supposed to heat up to 45 F, so we can just deal with it for now. We jump in the car. Shivering.
My wonderful wife of course printed out a map, and we get there and it is sprinkling. Yesterday it rained on the "New Year's Double", (some people signed up to run twice!) today it was not supposed to. And sure enough it did not. The wind did blow however. I think I would have preferred the rain. Maybe I would have preferred my training ground, Haiti, and 90 degree weather. At least the running surface was level.
We check in, got fancy new long sleeve running shirts, pinned on our numbers 1133 and 1134, and went for a quick bathroom jog to warm up. I come out to her laughing at me, and she gently points out that my new running shirt is on backwards. Awkward. Not really, as I remind her that she told me that I did not have to think, just run.
We walk around a little, trying to warm up, and decide to keep the jogging pants on the first half of the race and drop them in our bag after we had warmed up. Little did we know.
The wind is blowing as the racers start. Heat A leaves at 8:15, in one minute intervals the other heats depart. We, of course, are next to last in Heat H. We run. We run together. Fortunately.
Have I mentioned that I have such an incredible wife. She has deferred to me in our training, and thus has not gotten all of hers in. She is tough. Too tough sometimes, and between a bad knee, a baby, and being pregnant, she figured she would just get through the run as best she could. Walking if need be. She had every reason to not do this half marathon, and she still did. We ran till mile 4.
Hand in hand, walking mile 5 a couple makes the comment that we look so cute, as they pass us by. Thanks. Becky is feeling like throwing up, probably pregnancy related. And probably will not run any more. I am struggling with conflicting feelings. I want to run as I am not feeling too bad, and the sooner I get done, the sooner I can get warm. I feel selfish. I don't want to leave my wife. What should I do? She encourages me to go ahead. I do.
Normally, I plan out my runs and adjust on the run. "Next break after X number of laps." "Make that Y number of laps." Now, I just take Becky's advisement that I don't have to think. So I don't. I just run, and stop to walk, run to keep warm. Slow down for a couple sips of gatorade. Run some more.
I miss Becky on the big loop around, and hope that she stops halfway through. She has not been feeling too well, and would be just fine stopping with a half-half marathon. Besides, people are always saying she is eating for two, so why not be running for two? The "cute" comment couple catch up to me again and ask if my girlfriend/wife is ok. I say yes. And begin to wonder more. What kind of husband lets his pregnant wife do walk in the freezing cold alone?
My mile 10, her mile 8, she is bundled up with my jacket I left at the drop bag. She encourages my run. She is OK, cold and walking but OK. It is good to see her, though I still wish she would have dropped out and into the warm car. I continue on.
Last 2 miles are in the open. A huge open park, with a cold north wind, is not all that conducive to running a race at 41 F. It seems to be getting colder. My legs and knees hurt, so I slow to a walk, but the wind is so bad, and it is so cold, that I want to run just to get warmer. Rock and a hard place. Rock and a hard place. Finally, mile 13 and the 1/10 left till the finish line. Encouragers encourage, and a fist bump helps, the announcer says my name. A smile. A reflective blanket, banana, water, bagel. I can't think. Cold. Bag. Keys. Car.
Ahh, Car. How are you so low to the ground? Finally. It is over. Now I just have to wait for Becky. I warm up the car, and drive around to see how she is doing. She is right in the middle of the long, wind-in-your-face stretch. She asks for a ride, and I say "Sure! Come on in." She smiles, and declines. She is a true finisher. I drive back to wait in the parking lot. I see her as she is coming around the last curve and try to get out in time to get in front of the finish line, but my extremities are not working that well, so I miss her crossing. She is starving, and just wants to sit and eat. I have my little plastic blanket, but having gotten warm, and not run, I am violently shivering. I try to encourage her to the warm car. After another bagel run, she agrees.
The car thermometer reads 40 F. Yep. That's about right. It actually got colder by the end of the run.
My hat is off to all you runners out there. Your ranks are once again depleted by one. No convert here. It was a good, hard experience. And conveyed some good lessons. Hey, I even lost some weight. I feel like I am in decent shape, and definitely enjoyed the excuse to eat any dessert I wanted. When I am feeling better, I may even run a mile or two. But that long distance stuff... that is just crazy.
P.S. To support THE RUN follow this link over to Razoo the fundraising site for Run For Life Haiti.
To support the professional runner Barry directly, go to RunForLifeHaiti.org
(The money all ends up in the same place anyway.)