So a few months ago, our friends Jeff and Melissa sent a message to a bunch of people asking who might be interested in hauling their asses all the way across the country to run a half marion in Santa Rosa, CA. At first, Cheryl and I were all, “Stupid long races! We HATE them! Nothing but 5Ks for us! Look how superior we are just doing short fast races where we look like shit and throw up at the finish!”
Around 3:00 a.m. that following night, I was laying awake calculating splits when I heard Cheryl cough in that “Are you awake?” intrusive kind of way, and I said, “Are you thinking about that fucking half marathon?”
The next morning we signed up and sent Jeff a message perkily announcing, “We’re in!” I frantically slammed together an 8-week training plan of sorts, and when I found out that Amy and her BF (yes, I actually just used that), KoB, were also going (major YAY!!), I also hurled the training plan at her, barking out orders like an insane woman and flinging calculator time predictions at everyone. Amy was kind of like, “Calm down, bitch. I’m not looking for a PR,” and Cheryl was kind of, “Are you okay?”
So we trained as well as we could, the 3 of us meeting at the butt-crack of dawn for many Saturdays in a row to run the hills of MonkeyVille in godforsaken humidity while discussing lots of fun topics like whether hummingbirds have legs, how turkeys have sex, the mechanics of pooping, and boob jobs. By mid-August, I felt moderately prepared. Maybe a 7 out of 10 on the sense-o-preparedness scale. Cheryl’s and my mantra was, “This is just for fun! Who cares!”
Anyhoo, the 6 of us all flew out to CA together, enjoying good times on Southwest including some free drinks and me tossing peanuts at Amy’s head but, sadly, missing her and hitting a small child instead. Once in San Francisco, we headed to the car rental arena where C. and I found out that we were going to have to take ANOTHER fucking shuttle to the other side of the world to rent our car from SleazeTastic Rentals in Burlingame. I’m really at a loss of words to impart to you just how frightening this car rental place was, so instead, I present to you here a pic of the backseat of our car:
Jeff, Melissa, KoB, and Amy rented a ultra-cool, spotless, black Charger (assholes!). Everyone took a gander at the upholstery of our car (the front was even worse), and after falling down on the ground laughing, politely declined riding with us the next day as we….
(There may or may not have been some public flatulence by certain people as we wandered through this awesome cathedral of natural wonder.)
Posed for pictures in groovy coffeehouses where chicks with leg hair reeked of patchouli.
(I’m not stoned in that picture.)
Then we all ate a terrifically monstrous mountain of pizza and had some super-serious running chat during which Cheryl announced that she “might” want to go for a PR tomorrow while I paced her, and my head rocketed off my shoulders and exploded somewhere over near the pizza ovens. Cripes. This meant I might actually have to race tomorrow. I have tried in vain for some time now to convince Cheryl that she and I are at the same place in our training and that she could possibly even (oh dear god) beat me any minute now, but she continues to worship me as a running goddess of unparalleled wisdom and inconceivable talent and endless modesty. So, I agreed to pace her. *SIGH*
So, away we go the next morning. The weather was absolutely perfect (52 and cloudy) and the course had been touted as flat (it was) and fast (it wasn’t). The plan was 8:15 pace to give Cheryl a PR, and a negative split to give me something I’ve never had in a half marathon (don’t judge me!). The first two miles were a nightmare of 2000 people trying to funnel through a very narrow path and make 180-degree turns onto a greenway. An ass with a stroller passed us. Good times.
Around mile 6, we came up to Melissa who could easily hand me my pompous ass on a jeweled platter any day of the week, but was having a rough race that morning. Luckily, she fell in with us just in time for a photo-op of me leading the 3 of us. A spectacle never to be seen again.
(Nice arm swing, Tanya. Here we are at six. See me confidently leading Cheryl? Prepare for doom and destruction and unchartered depths of humiliation.)
After this, the miles just kind of blurred by the way they do when you get into a rhythm. I was doing phantasms of math calculations and noted that we were exactly on pace and definitely on our way to a negative split. Yay! We had some random packs of bitches trying to pass us now and then, and we stomped them left and right. I should note that at this very point, Amy was having the Battle Royale of all time racing a dwarf. I must say that I feel a sense of tearful pride knowing that Amy was able to utilize some of the more subtle and thoughtful racing techniques I have passed along to her to kick a midget’s ass in California.
Hello mile 11.5. Up until this point, I had been either encouraging C. to pick it up or to calm down. But in one glance at her at this point, I sensed that she was determined to run the final mile and a half as fast as she could. Cheryl has a terribly annoying ability to kick for quite a while at the end of training runs, and it occurred to me in a slow motion glaze of Oh No that she was going to do this in a race and that I would not be able to keep up.
And there she went. She hesitated for a moment around 12 to say that we had to finish together. I looked at my watch and said, “Not if you want a PR. Go, or I’ll kill you,” because I was feeling 8:30-8:40ish at that point, and she would have to keep at 8:15 to get that PR. So, Cheryl took off, turning back at one point on the bridge that led to the finish line to look back down at me and wave with a huge smile. Sweetness. Not even bittersweetness.
And so, Cheryl got a 30-second PR, I got a negative split and actually won 2nd in my age group (Get Old. Win Shit.), Jeff ran an AWESOME marathon PR of 3:14 being paced by KoB, and Amy schooled a dwarf. Does a running trip with great friends get any more spectacular than that? I think not.