Whoo! I almost fainted Monday from the effort of posting, so you’ll have to forgive me for skipping yesterday. I was saving my energy for Hump Day!
Hump Day: in which I will regale you with tales of My Very First Running Experience.
Well, not very first. How about My Very First Organized Running Experience. You didn’t think I went in cold, did you? Please; I like to ease into things. I’m like the kid at the beach who is still only ankle-deep in the ocean after 30 minutes.
Day before the race (Friday). I spend most of my day browsing pasta-heavy recipes in anticipation of my favorite aspect of long distance running: carbo-loading. I fell in love with this recipe (who knew Gordon Ramsey was a runner?) and headed off to the Teet to gather up the ingredients.
Pancetta was something outrageous, like $7.99 for 3 skimpy slices, so I decided to substitute with bacon. Confronted with the roughly 7 million varieties of bacon, I decided upon turkey bacon. Then my eye caught the package marked “50% less sodium” – into the basket it goes (this will later prove to be a mistake).
Oh – I forgot. Before my grocery adventure I picked up my pre-race packet which consisted of my Official Race T-Shirt Tank Top, Office Race Course Map, and – most exciting – my Official Race Number! It took a lot of will power not to pin that sucker to my business casual attire and stride confidently (and with perhaps unnecessary speed) through the produce aisle. Outta my way, suckers – Officially Registered Runner trying to shop over here!
Anyway, back at Casa Fudrucker, I set the pasta water to boiling and start cooking the “healthy” bacon.
Note to self: WTF, Sarah, it’s freaking bacon. Next time, just go for the real thing.
This bacon was the grossest thing I have willingly put in my mouth in a long time. It never quite got cooking right; no satisfying sizzle or pop of fat, and the pan remained bone dry. From start to finish, the three strips of whatever the heck it was changed only in color (darker towards the end, but that may have been some left-over crud from my less-than-stellar dish washing skills). It resembled nothing so much as weirdly smooth jerky. But hey, bacon is bacon, so I chopped it up the best I could (imagine trying to “roughly dice” a Fruit Roll-Up) and added it to the pasta.
I have never, ever, in my life, eaten around bacon. Delicious dinner FAIL.
Race day dawned slightly overcast and drizzly. I do not care because I have toast! and bananas! and peanut butter! I washed it down with Gatorade just as my running partner, Kristin, pulled up outside of my house. We walked the few blocks to the start of the race, high fiving each other every couple of yards.
“Yeah! We’re doing this! Vegas bab-I mean, Race baby!”
We got to the start line with around 2 minutes to spare; both grinning like idiots. The race began and we were off! Within the first 1/4 mile there was a pretty steep climb, and I started seriously questioning my decision. But after that there was a nice downhill run though downtown Wilmington, so I was golden. A woman with a veil on was running a few paces ahead of us. I thought that it was awesome that she was celebrating her wedding by running, but thought it was odd she was running alone.
“I wonder if people ever crash marathons?” Kristin asked.
My first water station experience was a bust; they were out of water, or hadn’t had water delivered yet, or something, and were handing out ice cubes. I was pretty pumped because we were about to start on our first bridge, and wasn’t desperate for a drink, but I took some ice cubes anyway. I hate eating ice, and spit it out a few yards later. I guess I didn’t want to make the volunteers feel bad; they looked so earnest.
The view from atop the bridge was pretty awesome; the random song playing on my iPod was Izrael Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which was perfect. I could see the rest of the course from the apex of the bridge and felt a mix of excitement and fear. I said a quick prayer in gratitude that I had already pooped that morning.
The halfway point of the race was the worst – we were running along the highway in a breeze-less tunnel of swampy marshland. The humidity was stifling. Smells like alligator pee, I thought, and even though I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually sniffed alligator pee, I’m pretty sure it smells like a mixture of ammonia and decomposing water plants. I spied a clump of kids with strange costumes and noise makers cheering up ahead.
“I’m going to make those kids give me a high five,” I panted to Kristin.
Upon approaching the kids, I arranged my face in what I hoped was a grin and stuck out my hand. The first child, a girl, was rolling one of those two-sided drum-thingies between her palms and couldn’t be bothered to stop to give me a high five. A second child, a boy in some kind of mask, ran away as I approached. His younger brother, also masked, just stood there and watched me slowly approach, hand out. I gave his hand a quick slap and dashed away. I could hear Kristin behind me getting high five’d as well.
“You know their mom is going to douse them in Purell, right?” she said. If I could have laughed, I would.
Stay tuned for Part II!