So, yeah, I was beginning to get a little antsy about not having written anything here in a while, and so, per usual, I started wracking my brain for topics which, as I’ve already warned all of you, don’t necessarily have to be running-related, but then I felt a little guilty about the fact that I started this as a running blog and, heavens to murgatroyd, it’s even named “34,000 Miles Later,” so shouldn’t the blogs be mostly be about running?
So here I am. A bit antsy and a bit guilty.
Anyway, I have run a couple races recently that were neither all that spectacular or interesting. Let’s chat about them, shall we?
A few weeks ago I ran a sort of trail-esque race called The Wild Thang 9-Miler that goes around a right purty lake just outside of Nashville. Typically this race is held in May, and there’s a lot of sloshing through overflowed banks and creeks and sloppy fields. I mean, it’s May. It rains. Hello. But this year, as you may have heard (or not if you only watch national news), it rained just a tad more than usual in Nashville, and on race day, the picnic shelter near the finish looked like this:
Eek! (On a side note, Cheryl and I totally missed the Flood of The Century. We left for Key West on the morning it began raining, and by the time Nashville was a-floating away, we were sitting in the Flying Monkey Saloon [I know, right?] drinking sissy rum cocktails, eating conch, and listening to some old fart in a Hawaiian shirt singing “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”)
So the Wild Thang was moved to August. And, once again, in case you aren’t up on all things Meterological Tennessee, it has been hot in Nashville this summer, and the morning of the Thang was no exception. Most of the way to the race, I jabbered on and on about how this was only going to be a tempo run. No racing for me. No siree-bob. Couldn’t care less. Let’s have fun. Running’s stupid. Cheryl nodded good-naturedly which was easy for her to do since she’s in the Every Race Is a PR! zone what with all the running she’s been doing coupled with some truly unparalled coaching. I mean, really top notch. Stellar, even.
Anyway, after warming up down some dirt road and peeing behind a tree and realizing mid-stream that there was a serious Boy Scout Jamboree in full view, we headed to the start. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that I noticed a masters chick that I have an on-again off-again neuroses about beating. *SIGH* Even so, I ran the first mile (I thought) pretty easily and let her go ahead. The few times I’ve beaten her, it’s because she’s gone out too fast, and for me to even say that is really something since I am the Czar of Bat Out of Hell starts.
There’s really not much to say about the course. It goes around a lake. It’s kind of muddy and rooty, but not bad enough to make you fall on your ass and get dirt in your ears, so I can’t really call it a “trail” race. There are no hills. And because it’s mostly in a dense woods, there is nary a hint of a breeze. Nary! On this particular morning, it felt like running through a damp washcloth. A 9-mile-long damp washcloth. Nonetheless, I toodled along feeling pretty good. Every so often, I could catch a glimpse of Masters Chick through the woods, and by mile 4 I had definitely started closing the gap.
It was at this point that some teenage guy who had been sitting on my shoulder for a mile decided to zip by me. In doing so, I enjoyed having him push a low branch out of his way so that it came back and whacked me in the head. I made an inarticulate noise of disdain followed by a pretty articulate (and saracstic) “Thanks!” Teen Guy didn’t even acknowledge this which prompted me to run huffily along right on his shoulder, so close that I couldn’t even see the trail. Brilliant!
About 3 minutes into this inanity, Teen Guy goes, “Where do we go?” And, crab patch that I was, I go, “Just follow the trail.” So along we go, now with about 5 other people behind us. The trail gets fainter, but it still kind of looks like the trail, right? Teen guy is now all, “I don’t think we’re on the trail.” But we must be, was my wretched way of thinking; there’s a group of us all together. In another minute, the group of us all together was standing at the edge of the lake looking at one another blankly.
After some frenzied careening through the woods, we got back on the trail. Now we were swamped in the people who had been 3-4 minutes behind us. Cripes. After weeding my way through the crowd (this is a joy on a narrow trail), we made it out into an open field. Masters Chick was long gone. Alas. So, for the last 4 miles of the race, I followed my orignal plan and just ran to run. It was actually kind of nice. I mean, in a stifling windless way. I saw a couple deer and a bright green turtle. Since it was a kind of out and back, I got to yell encouragement to other runners. I came to a complete standstill (complete!) to drink Gatorade.
In the end, it appeared that loads of people had gone off the trail. Even Cheryl. But, naturally, she got a PR anyway. Then a group of us stood around consuming cookies and covert Coors and reminsicing fondly about that exact point where all of us had lost the trail and what profanities we had uttered. It was a good day.
A couple weeks later, I ran a 5k that, in the past, has been ultra-popular. It involved cookies. But that sponsor was, apparently, unceremoniously dropped in a rude way. This, along with the lack of cookies, created a much smaller turnout and, as you will realize when you read my next sentence, an utter dearth of competition. Running a seriously average time, I managed to come in 2nd female overall. It’s always fun to place well in a race, but not nearly as fun as running well.
This is a hilly 5k that I had run a couple times in the 22:15ish range. I’m not sure how it was done, but somehow, on the exact same course, there were obviously more hills this year. I came in 20 seconds slower. The last .5 mile is mostly downhill with a terrific corkscrew turn to the finish line, so this is always good for attractive finish photos. Otherwise, there’s not a lot to drone on about with this race. It’s a road 5k. You’re jittery, the gun goes off, you feel like the edge of painful death for 20-something minutes, you finish, sometimes you hurl, the end.
And yet, and YET, I seem to have developed a new horrid fondness for the 5k distance. This is in direct contradiction with one of my first blogs ever on this site. How could this have happened? I now find myself looking forward to 5ks with a kind of happy and dreamy anticipation. This is both wrong and sad.
So, yeah, the race report blog. I always feel a little like I’m cheating when I write these, because, after all, who really cares? I mean, I find it hard to believe that anyone out there reading this is just totally consumed by the details of my jog around a right purty lake near Nashville.
Essentially, then, even after writing this, I’m still feeling a bit antsy and a bit guilty.