Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Lumbering Grizzly

The most marvelous thing happened today!

I ran on the treadmill for 20 whole minutes!!! That's a 2 and 0, put together!! 20 minutes.

So, this whole 20 minutes may seem dreadfully insignificant to you, but this is a pretty big deal for me, I'm not gonna lie.  Back in the day...like 4 years ago I was a running fool.

If I wasn't studying (which takes up a shitload of time in optometry school, by the way), I was most likely on the treadmill, or running on the lake front of downtown Chicago. (Which they make seem a LOT more glamorous/cool in movies then it really is in real life.)

Not once did I run into Oprah, or Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn (back when they were a couple).  I felt severely ripped off.  And still do, thank you very much.

Back then 20 minutes was nothing.  It was like the warm up before I went out and ran 20 miles. 

Seriously. 

Now you're asking yourself.  Is she really crazy enough to do that. 

Yes.  Would be the answer to that question.

In 2007 I got the brilliant idea to run the Chicago Marathon. 

Awesome!

There are a few things I wish I would have thought about before registering for that race:

1.  Training for it would require running in the dead, sweating balls heat of summer, for hours on end.
2.  The lake shore path has some real shady parts.  (Which I happened to live near.)
3  There are not enough bathrooms on the lake shore path.  Nothing will make you shit your pants faster than training for a marathon. (I know you're learning TONS of things you didn't used to know through this awesome post.)
4.  I would have to get up at 5:00 in the morning EVERY Saturday for 3 months, to run my ass off and try and beat the dead, ball sweating heat and get my weekly mileage in.
5.  When I went back home to visit my parents in the summer, I would have to figure out where I could get in a "quick 15-miler". 

My calves ballooned up to super-human size.  All of these miles proudly put me in a position to earn the nickname "calf-zilla" from my husband.

Now, I know I'm making myself sound like a real athlete.  Which is a very far stretch and not my intention at all. 

My "run" looked more like a slow, lumbering grizzly bear suffering from a stroke.  My miles were far from fast...quite slow actually.  But I was out there.  I was doing it.

And I was proud of myself.

So on October 7th, 2007 I was SO ready. I was SO pumped.  I was going to destroy that marathon. 

One arduous 11-minute mile at a time. 

That particular October day it was going to be 95 degrees.  And they weren't going to have enough water.  And they weren't going to have enough Gatorade.  And people were going to drop like flies. 

If you aren't in the running community, you probably never heard about what a (ear-muffs) raging cluster-fuck the 2007 Chicago Marathon was.

My first clue was running through my first COMPLETELY EMPTY water station at the 3-mile mark. 

Oh crap.  This was not in the plan.  This was not what they told me was going to happen. 

Cut to me, frantically trying to figure out how I was going to get through the next 24.2 miles with no water or Gatorade. 

The future looked bleak. 

But never fear. The good people of Chicago came out en mass with their garden hoses.  So armed with a discarded, empty water bottle (that I picked up off the ground).  Yes, I was desperate. 

I got some hydration and kept on chuggin' along.

Who got passed by more than a few grandpas?

Me.

Who got passed by a very tall man running in a testicle costume in 97 degree heat?

Me.

Who kept going?

Me.

Until I got to mile 18 and I was confronted by police officers with bull-horns.

"STOP running. STOP running. You must STOP and reroute to the finish line.  The race is being called."

Ummm. Excuse me.

I've spent the last 3 months of my life getting ready for this.  I've already schlepped 18 miles, like a jogging corpse through this city, and you're telling me I can't finish it. 

I can't cross the finish line. 

I can't triumphantly run across that line and wave my arms in victory, like I've visualized every day for the last 3 months.

The ONLY image that kept me going when I was riding the EL in Chicago at 5 am on a Saturday to get to the "not creepy" part of the path.  An act that in itself I am shocked did not get me murdered and/or molested.

Are you kidding me!?

I sat on the curb and balled my eyes out for 5 minutes.  Then I picked myself up and walked the rerouted path to the finish line.  Where they directed me to cross it and collect my medal.

I summoned all the strength in my body, and I didn't hurl the medal at that poor volunteer who handed it to me.  I just took it and laughed at him as he congratulated me.

Congratulations?

For what. I didn't finish the race.  I don't even want this medal.  Since it's taking every ounce of self control I have to not shove it down your throat right now, I will probably just throw it in the dumpster on my way home.  Or leave it on the EL platform for a homeless man to pee on. 

Why don't you save your congratulations for the geniouses that put on this race.  Apparently, they are incapable of checking the weather channel like every other American.  Apparently, they were the only ones that didn't know it was supposed to be 95 freaking degrees, and they may need extra water for the 40,000 people registered to participate in this event.  Apparently they are the only ones that don't know what happens to people trying to run a marathon in a tropical heat-wave when you don't give them water.

Some of them die. 

And then you have to call the race.

F*&^ing dream stealers.

Congratulations.

This experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth, and a wee-bit bitter.

Can you tell?

I always promised myself that I would do it again.  I would finish what I started.  I would cross that finish line someday and be able to pump my arms victoriously. 

So, today I ran for 20 minutes. 

I felt a little light-headed, and more than a little like vomiting. 

But I did it. Like I said, it may not seem like much. 

But to me.  It's a start.

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