Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day Something: I attend my first race!

Emphasis on attend. As in, watched. There were almost 20 Team Challengers running or walking in the Scotland 10K on Saturday, and since I knew Friday night was going to be a late one for me, I signed up to cheer them on. I could draw on my vast experience as a sixth-grade cheerleader to provide vital support and also get my first taste of what an actual race is like. That taste was incredibly chaotic. We stood by the start for almost half an hour before everyone had passed us. It was craziness.

I was getting antsy watching 7,790 people run by as I stood still. Yes, I was also working those arm and throat muscles by holding up a Team Challenge sign and emitting bursts of "Whoo"s, but I would only rank that as a 13 (Somewhat hard [It is quite an effort; you feel tired but can continue]) on the Percieved Exertion Scale. I needed to get rid of some energy. We had 15 minutes before heading over to the finish line for the second round of cheering, so I dropped my stuff and jogged off, taking only my cell phone to make sure I got back in time. (Translation: I took my phone in case I got lost and needed to call someone for directions.)

I started north, on a path that was unpaved but at least was straight, so I could keep my meager directional senses from being overwhelmed. After a minute I switched onto a prettier, flower-filled path veering off slightly to the right. It was still basically going north, so I figured I was safe. I took one turn, asked myself if I should turn around and head back, but decided I could always use the buildings as my guideposts, and went off to be an adventurer!

As you may have anticipated, this was a mistake. I wandered around a giant fountain/lake hybrid, turned around, realized I had nobody's phone number to call for help, skipped frantically past Strawberry Fields (W. 72nd), and made an executive decision to turn... That way! That way! was how I thought I would return to Tavern on the Green, my approximate starting point (W. 67th). I ended up at the 5 mile marker, which I knew was on the opposite side of Central Park from my starting point (E. 72nd), and played it safe by following along with the 10K runners. I only had two miles left! How hard could it be to make it back in ten minutes? I did not want to wander back into that labyrinth of nature and risk turning my short run into a Family Circus cartoon.

This was really just a horrible idea from the beginning. I had on my old, floppy sneakers, I had not had any water, I had no map, and I had no idea how to get around Central Park. As best as I can figure out, this was my eventual route (click to expand):

I only ended up accidentally quadrupling the length of my intended run. Not so bad, eh? You'll be glad to know that my pains this time were back to being restricted to my right leg. I could feel the beginnings of shin splints coming on, but mostly it was my outer right toes that were squished and mangled by my ill-fitting sneakers. Ahh, right leg. I bet you'd been feeling left out, hadn't you? Welcome back to the fold.

When I finally made it back to the group, I was able to use those cheering skills by shouting out such helpful slogans as "Yeah kilts!" to people who had gotten into the Scottish spirit, "Whooo, Miami!" to someone wearing a U Miami sweatshirt, and "Way to go! Running! Whooo!" to the world at large. I'm a pro like that.

It was a little dizzying watching the waves of people pass by, searching them out for our orange-and-blue T-shirts. There were old people with more impressive abs than I will ever have, a few people who had on plaid tam o'shanters with obviously fake orange wigs glued inside of them (just like Bret Michaels!), a guy in boxers who had painted himself completely blue and red, an older lady who looked like a drama teacher in tight black pants, a tight black turtleneck and bright white sneakers, and some dude in a Speedo who had written the name of his blog all over his chest and back. Perky people, huffing people, nearly nudes, never nudes, completely covereds, people talking to themselves, and people giving sweet encouragement to their partner (ex: "I don't care how you feel, finish strong!"). Red-faced people, blue people, singles, doubles. It was like a Dr. Seuss convention out there.

After everyone from Team Challenge had finished, runners and cheerers headed out for brunch, which I avoided, because I wanted to get home, stretch, eat just a little for energy, and go running for real! What happened was that I got home, ate an entire bag of Pirate's Booty, and fell asleep around 2 PM. When my eyes peeked open again, they became quite confused at how dark it was outside of my window. A quick check of my cell phone, and all was revealed. It was past midnight. What can I say? 10Ks are exhausting, even if you aren't technically a participant.

I forced myself out of bed to soothe my growling stomach with some food, watched a couple episodes of Arrested Development on Hulu, and passed out again. This fair princess did not arise again until after noon, and if you consider "arising" to require some kind of movement from the supine position, then that didn't happen until 2 or so. All in all, I would not say those were my most productive 24 hours ever. But they also weren't my least productive ever! Victory!

Once this morning's breakfast settles in, and maybe after a short nap*, I'm going to go running, but I can't do much since my space-age shoes are stuck at work. I also don't want to bore you with the past ten days of nothing, because I haven't had much time to do anything. If I go during lunch, I don't have enough time to warm up and avoid shin splints, and I've been spending the hours after work either trying to set up my fundraising event or going out with people from work to say goodbye to two people from my team who are leaving for greener (and boringer) locales. (Just kidding, people who live in New Hampshire!) I don't know how much time I'm going to have until the fundraiser is over, either, but hopefully I can fit something in between my marathon sleeping sessions.

*I wish I were kidding, but the sun makes me so sleepy! My eyes are closing at this very moment.

Hey, I'm not going this for my health! Well, I sort of am, but I'm also doing it to help find a cure for Crohn's and colitis. Please donate and help me get to Boston to complete my journey!


    This is an inspirational message from Mindy.

  2. You remembered! Thank you for the best, most inspiring comment ever commented.