Quote of the Day: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
- Peter Drucker
And one half of one hour.
That’s all I get in the sleep department.
But it was time to get up, take a shower, put on the band-aids, get dressed, and take a look at a very tired human being with bags under his eyes before heading downstairs. The next time I graced this room, I would be very tired but done with my 18th marathon. All I would be seeking is another shower and unconsciousness in the bed, left alone with the satisfaction of another medal to add to my collection.
Before that happened though, I had to begin the journey by going down to the lobby where I soon found an empty couch. I was down like prom dress.
This was a novel experience. I was not responsible for any of the logistics, I simply had to wait for the word to get in the van and go. Of course I was responsible that all my Marines made it to the lobby but with Sgt. Carter there, all I had to do is wait for him to come over and give me the thumbs up. It was a very Nero-like experience (me laying on the couch and waiting for him to come to me) and I was able to doze until we were all ready to go.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to lie there with my iPod and wait. Waiting was OK. I was inside, warm, and comfortable. How many races have I been stressed, confused, tired, cold, and waiting in the elements? Too many to count.
This was good. Couch. Dozing…
We got all the bikes loaded, all the people loaded, and got on the dark road. It took about an hour (I think. At least it seemed that long) and somewhere along the way, the rain started coming down in sprinkles. Bad omen.
Our driver was one of the local firemen and the idea was that he was “connected” to the police who would be directing traffic. The goal was to get as close to the start as we could so the bikes wouldn’t have to be lugged all that far.
The first couple of cops we came to were very cooperative, taking our driver’s “creds” and allowing us through. But then he came upon a detective who, we were informed, just got promoted two weeks prior, who was resistant to our progress. This was colorfully expressed by our driver who vowed to “get that guy” and expressing his displeasure at such treatment in his own colorful way that included talking to everyone up to the Commish about this guy.
When we got to the start/end area, we had a small tent set up and unloaded all the bikes. The rain was starting to come down harder and harder but it wasn’t a factor. Yet.
The small group of us that were running either the marathon or the half started toward the mass of humanity in the starting chute. It took about 5 seconds before I lost everyone and found myself alone. Well, alone to everyone/anyone I knew. I DID have a couple of thousand people around me but you get the idea.
Oh well. Marathoning is an individual sport and I would lose anyone I was hanging with almost immediately so I donned my iPod and got my head ready for the race.
Twenty minutes before the start, the dark skies opened up.
And I mean “opened up” like a water tower tipping over.
Standing in the crowded chute with the announcer blaring incessantly about this and that, it took about 30 seconds before I was as wet as I was ever gonna get. I stood there shivering in the dark, water cascading off my body in sheets, and watched the water drop off the bill of my running hat like a waterfall.
By the time we started moving, it was as though I had walked over to the edge of a swimming pool, jumped in fully clothed, climbed out, and started running.
Water “scwooshed” out of my shoes each step.
The first mile had one of the very few hills in this race and suddenly, I found myself running uphill, in the pitch-black morning darkness, with an hour and a half of sleep under my belt and soaking wet in the pouring rain. With over 25 miles to go. I realized at that precise moment that this might be the most miserable moment of my entire running career.
When you run, you go through highs and lows. You are not too worried about the lows because you know there will be a high later on. You don’t despair because no matter how bad it is, experience tells you it will get better, and worse before it’s all over. Until the end of course when it’s not “IF” it will be bad, it’s simply “WHEN?”
This has been a hard learned lesson.
Which failed me today.
It never got any better.
Somehow, the rain and the sun were coordinated. Forty minutes into the run, the rain ceased just as the sun rose meaning that the total shower time was a full hour. Of torrential, monsoon rain.
Instead of the downpour, I then had to deal with the humidity. I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but did you know it’s friggin’ humid in Florida? I know, freaky.
I never got in the groove. Not when the miles clicked by. Not when the half-marathoners split off. Not when I started getting stomach problems and started spending many long minutes in the port-a-potties trying to ignore the painful expulsions as I watched sweat drip off my running hat bill with clockwork precision. (TMI?)
It was about the halfway point when I made the dreadful mistake of asking if things could get worse.
God has a way of answering such questions.
The iPod, for the second marathon in a row, decided to take a powder. In Phoenix, I reasoned it was because of the cold and now, I either had to accept that water got into it or that it was dying slowly, unable to keep a charge. Whatever the reason, I was left in musical silence.
At the same time, I became painfully aware that I was faced with a serious chafing problem. The rain had been so heavy that my clothes had stuck to me like cellophane and when the rain stopped, the humidity guaranteed that I would not be drying off any time soon. Also, the rain had washed away the lube I had applied and therefore was left exposed to wet shorts and underwear: ideal conditions for a chafe-a-rama.
Ain’t running glamorous?
The bitch of the whole thing was that I had planned to phone this one in. After last week’s half marathon and a marathon the week before that, I didn’t even fool myself into thinking that this was NOT a two-liner (pass the start line and the finish line, not worrying about anything else). I was going to glide, I was going to smell the roses, I was not going to hammer in any form and really expected to just bring home a 4:30 time.
But with all the obstacles, it became evident that it was going to take effort just to get the “easy” time. As I’ve stated, I never got into the groove so every step was misery. I was not having fun. I even had to pull out the thought that I had never failed to finish a race and even contemplated the medal I would be earning for motivation to keep going.
Sad, I know.
By the end, I still brought it in strong but I wash completely stripped. I was exhausted mentally and physically. I was glad it was over and not at all proud of what I had just endured. I felt very little accomplishment.
I came in at 4:31.
So I had to put a lot of work, and I mean A LOT, just to get the “easy” time. I was not too happy about this. And while it wasn’t my worst time by far, I have done too many of these to put this much work into a race just to get a mediocre time. I think the conditions had an effect on my mental state because in hindsight, a 4:31 is not a bad time, ESPECIALLY considering how much work it took to even do that.
Afterwards, I found one of the hand-crank cyclists and together, we found the tent (which I would have never found alone in my state considering I had only seen the location early in the dark morning.)
Practically everyone else was done and most had returned back to the hotel. I sat in the tent for about 40 minutes before a couple of the Marines and a Doc came walking up and explained that they had just spent an hour at the finish line looking for me. How they could have missed me is still a mystery since I was practically alone running through the finishing chute.
I really appreciated them waiting for me there though.
As though my mind wasn’t scrambled enough after what was arguably one of the more arduous marathons I’ve run, there was a professional wrestler there. This guy not only looked a lot like Hulk Hogan but also trained him. I guess he was big in Australia which was weird because the world-record holder for the wheelchair competition was Australian and practically flipped out when he saw this guy. He got autographs, pictures, the whole deal. What kind of guy flips out over celebrity?
By the time I got back to the hotel, I was wiped with a capitol WIPED. This morning, all of the Wounded Warriors had talked smack about how hard they were going to hit the town tonight and I didn’t say a word about it. As I knew would happen, they all took showers and were fast asleep by the time I got back.
I took my shower and hobbled downstairs for some free buffet chow which wasn’t all that wonderful except for the fact that sautéed dogshit would have been a feast after the marathon. What do you expect 15 minutes before the buffet ends?
I ate, hobbled back upstairs, set the room up for a nap of Biblical proportions, and crashed so hard for about an hour that I believe my heart likely stopped altogether. That’s not to say I was only in bed for an hour and no, I’m not implying anything seedy. I SLEPT hard for an hour but the other couple of hours were spent thrashing around and reacting to the pain in my legs.
Marathoning is fun.
When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I filled my bath spa with hot water which took about FOREVER. My raw parts stung as the water level inched up and I finished up with a shower, keeping to my habit of using every single amenity a hotel has to offer. It’s just my way, folks. I cannot change those stripes.
I asked Sgt. Carter if he wanted to go eat and we headed down to the lobby. When we got there, we ran into Genna, the assistant coordinator for Achilles (brunette in blue, NSC.).
She hadn’t eaten so she joined us as we ambled (I used “hobbled” to often in this post but what we were doing was far from “walking.”)
We got to a steak house where I ordered a porterhouse, but in my defense, the place WAS called “The Porterhouse” so what else would I order? We had salad, we had bread, we had steak, we had fries. Genna was picking up the bill and offered to get us dessert but even though my body was screaming for sustenance, by this time I could have sooner shoved an entire elephant down my throat so I politely passed, culminating in a loud belch. That’s the “Gentlemen” in Officer and a Gentleman, folks.
We made it back to the hotel and to tell the truth, I don’t remember much else. I know I must have caught the elevator up, found my room, undressed, and fallen into the bed but I doubt if I could pass a polygraph. I just remember be tired and sore.
I do remember a fleeting thought, though. The same one I have at such moments.
I finished a marathon today. Number 18.
You would think it would become a non-event after so many repetitions
You would be wrong.
Free Advice for Today: “Just to see how it feels, for the next twenty-four hours refrain from criticizing anybody or anything.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.