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The Run And The Game

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006


- Unknown

OK, here we go. The big 19 mile run.

After last week’s 18 mile success, today’s didn’t seem so daunting. I mean, I did 18 last week with little workup so not only did I have that knowledge behind me but I had the training of that run to help me with this one.

The weather was nice and I was ready. I had a good feeling about this and as I’ve learned, that’s the most important aspect of the run. I’ve said before that you could feel good and have a bad run, feel bad and have a good run, feel good, run good, and feel bad run bad but when you have the confidence and KNOW you are going to have a good run, chances are you are going to get through it with flying colors.

The weather was cooperating and I realized I had finally honed my running logistics to the perfect fit. In years past, I had worn a fanny pack but now, I don’t need them. With my running jacket, I could carry the Gu in my pockets. I had my Camelback so I was set for water and my iPod clipped to the elastic on my running shorts with the earbuds running up the back. Everything “fit” and I had no more bouts with binding gear scenarios. Best of all, my hips were free and there was no irritating slapping of the buttpack (I know, sounds bad) as I ran. And no cinching strap around the waist to remind me that it was not a pretty sight to accentuate that area of my body.

But there were trade-offs. The most glaring one was not having room for emergency supplies and when I say “emergency supplies,” I, of course, mean toilet paper. I just had to hope that I would have no mid-run emergencies and so far, I’m 2 for 2 this season on the long runs.

To try to offset this, I visited the public bathroom in the barracks. Like last week, there were handwritten signs on both of them saying “Do not enter for any reason” and signed by the Barracks Sergeant.

Unlike last week, I didn’t open the doors to see what the deal was. I mean, come on, you come across a sign that says “Do not enter for any reason” and you KNOW you are going to check it out.

I shouldn’t have checked it out.

I figure what happened was that the plumbing stopped working but this didn’t seem to dissuade more than a few visitors from shitting in the bowl. And for those of you that don’t know what a young man can produce with a diet they have at TBS combined with stress, let your imagination run wild. Then double it and let it rot in a un-flushable toilet for weeks. Lump in all the toilet paper handy and you have a reasonable facsimile of what I saw. And smelled.

OK, pre-run crap-fest was a no go.

Let me announce something I’ve learned time and time again. NEVER inventory how you feel during the first mile of a run and multiply it my 19. If you do, you will turn around and go home. Understand that it will get better, then worse, then better… and so on. The end will be what it is but by then you will be in a vendetta to finish the son-of-a-bitch and ignore the pain. You will think you feel the shards of bones splintering off and digging into nerves and flesh but you will not care.

(Don’t be fooled, it’s a trick. You are not doing permanent damage.)

I really can’t sit here and comment on every mile, how I got through it, and how I felt. I can tell you that my strategy of running for 9 minutes and walking for one is the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s also a handy way to tick off the miles and do the running math about how far and how long you have left. Breaking it up, I know it takes just under 1 ½ hours to get way out to the turnaround point at a 10-minute pace. Every 50 minutes I hit another Gu and water at each walk break.

It’s as simple as that. You just keep going and like I stated above, toward the end, you just want it to be done and that becomes the focus. Coming across the finish line with your head up high and looking stronger than you feel inside.

And it never hits me when I finish. I just stop, walk to the car, grab the Gatorade, and walk in circles for a bit. There is no immense sense of accomplishment. You just feel done. Later, upon reflection, you say “Holy shit, I just ran 19 miles.”

Because it’s 9 miles out there, I had to run back ½ a mile, turn around and go back to complete the “extra” mile, and then start again with the 9 mile return. The thing that sucks is that end of the course is the hilliest the one-mile augment is up and down hills. But I had a secret weapon this day. I stuffed a lean little Red Bull can in the casing for the Camelback and out there at the 9 mile mark, I popped that bastard open and celebrated that I had dragged it all the way out there for the “wings” it would give me to fly home.

I got home and tried to soak my legs in ice water like I had done last summer after big runs. Normally, this prevents too much soreness the next day and for 15 minutes of pure ice hell, I trade a day’s worth of utter pain.

Two things conspired to make this a bad idea:

1. The temperature of cold tap water in the winter is considerably colder than in the summer time.

2. My body temperature even after a big run is considerably lower after winter runs than summer runs.

What does this mean? I about had a heart attack when I got into the bath with ice thrown in. In fact, I didn’t get into it and wondered how I ever did before until I realized the two points above. The water actually HURT my feet and I tried three times but it felt like my feet had chugged a super-sized Slurpee. I was literally afraid it would stop my heart.

Screw it, I took a hot shower instead and a two hour nap that felt like as close as I’ll get to Heaven on this side.

Then came the Seahawks game and I know I’ve created a monster post I could easily double with my feelings about the game. I will point you to my other blog entry about it and just add one more thing.

Steve Smith, the superstar on the Panthers, pissed me off before the game even started so I was glad to see him dropped like a toilet seat for most of the game.

What caused my ire?

Well, Carrie Underwood did a hell of a job belting out our National Anthem and right before she started, the announcer said “Will you please stand and men, please remove your hats for our National Anthem.”

I loved this because it always bothers me when people don’t do this and it was the first time I’d heard them give these instructions. But when they scanned the players, they got a close-up of this disrespectful schmuck Steve Smith and he hadn’t bothered to remove his skull cap.

Did he think this was not a hat or did he just not care? Whatever, it set the tone for the game and I felt more than a little satisfaction when he got shut down the entire game.

Anyway, the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl and this will lighten my heart for the entire two weeks before the big game.

Free Advice for Today: “When paying cash, ask for a discount.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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