Toto – I don’t think we’re in Florida Anymore
Have you ever gone on vacation and just got so relaxed and rested that reintegration into society was a little harder than it should have been? If you have then you know exactly where I was on Sunday. My feet were in Maryland – “running” – the Annapolis Striders Metric Marathon. My head? My heart? Squarely in the Florida Keys where I had just spent a week with Katie. Not a weekend dash out to Fenwick or up to NYC – but an honest to goodness convertible-hair-don’t-care vacation.
I did run once while we were on vacation – but mostly it was so that I could say that I’ve run to the southernmost point of the United States. I mean I did WANT to run also but the thought of missing that opportunity made me do it. I usually like to train a lot while I’m on vacation because it doesn’t take all day, I enjoy it and it helps me to come back home feeling good about how I spent my time – but minus a few Facebook check-ins, this vacation was a much needed near-complete departure from reality and that included running. (Not that I’ve been running during the week much anyways…but that’s another story all-together.)
We spent a night in Fort Lauderdale, three nights in Key West and two nights on Islamorada and we didn’t get home until after midnight on Saturday. I knew I would be tired. I knew I wouldn’t really be into it but I also knew that it didn’t really matter. This race was not my goal. It was just one step in this whole journey – and all I had to do was take it.
I have only run the metric marathon three times – including this one. I remembered it being a hard race and it’s a few miles longer than I’ve been running (a metric marathon is 26.2 Kilometers, or 16.28 miles) so I expected a pretty slow time. And it was. About 30 minutes off my PR for this race in fact. I didn’t feel great about the time but I felt good about finishing and it was nice to see a bunch of familiar faces at the start. It’s been a few weeks so I’m having trouble remembering specific encounters aside from the guy in front of me in line at the bathroom.
I was wearing my IronMan Maryland shirt from when I volunteered and the guy in front of me asked if I did the race the weekend before. I chuckled a little when I realized why he was asking and I told him I had not. I noticed he was wearing a hat from the race and asked if he had run it – which of course he had. This was going to be his first run since completing the 140.6 mile race so he wasn’t expecting anything near a PR. I was impressed that he’d be running again so soon but at the same time I could understand that when you’re that trained up, after a week of rest it’s actually good to get out and start moving again. I wouldn’t start with a non-flat 16+ mile course. But hey – that’s just me.
I can’t remember what he said his time was exactly but I remember that he was disappointed but not down about it. I also remember that it was very Fast – like under 10 hours or something. I congratulated him on the finish and silently reminded myself that everyone is on their own journey. Only 10 men my age and above finished IMMD in under 10 hours this year.
Dan and I ran together for the first 10 miles or so. I gave him the rundown on my trip to Key West with Katie. He peeled off course for a customary bio break and left me to listen to the three ladies behind us catch up and reminisce about last years run. Apparently two of the three were wearing what they wore the year before. Another one had been to brunch after last years race and their boyfriend snapped a nude of them while they napped it off.
No – I did not turn around to see which one it was. I didn’t even thank them for keeping me entertained. I mean, I didn’t want to add my intrusion to his. I decided it would be more prudent to just keep my mouth shut – a rule I mostly follow in life unless someone is paying for my opinion (rare) or I’m in the car with Dan on the way to work (not as rare – but I don’t get paid for it).
Darrell Mak and Nica Shields had been playing leap frog with us for a few miles so I settled in with them for a little while and congratulated Nica on her hard earned World Record for running 100.224 kilometers in 12 hours. Why 3 decimal places? The previous world record was 100.177! Holy smokes – .047 kilometers – that’s about 50 yards!!! More remarkable is that this was her third or fourth attempt (I can’t remember exactly) . Also she is going for the 24 hour record next.
Dan caught up to us (I still don’t know how he does it) and I filled him in on everything. MY stomach was reminding me how well I ate all week while on vacation and I knew I would need to stop soon and take care of it. I knew there was an aid station ahead with facilities but I couldn’t remember how far. My memory told me it was just ahead on the left but as it happens my memory is either:
- An optimist
- A rotten trickster the likes of which make Loki look like a 4 year old who, having just learned to talk can ONLY tell the truth regardless of how embarrassing or inappropriate.
…because there was NO porta pot at the next aid station. So we continued on to the aid station at the intersection of Bayard and Sands Rd and finally – mischief managed. Dan walked while he waited so I was actually able to catch him but not too long after I did – I let him go.
He was having a good day and I was struggling physically and mentally and could not find a reason to push myself. As I continued on I settled into the solitude and enjoyed my surroundings. The last time I ran this race I was angry. I had had a particularly bad evening the night before and was just using the anger to fuel me. I laughed at how far away that seemed but I wondered if there were something other than anger I could use to push myself today or even whenever I wanted. If there was, it fell beyond my reach.
I continued on slowly.
At the 13.1 mark I hit the lap timer on my watch. 2:10:56. Not terrible actually – but I remember thinking “OK, I can back off from here.” As if I hadn’t already checked out.
I knew it would be this way from the moment I decided it the night before when I went to bed. I was tired. I wanted to be on vacation still. Hell – I’d like to be retired, but as it happens I have another 25 years or so before that happens. I’m basically only half way there and I already want out. I’ll admit – that reality weighs on me regularly and I’m not entirely sure what to do about it aside from just keeping on. (Maybe I should follow up on finding that career coach?)
I ramble – there were some hills, I moved forward for another 38 minutes and eventually finished the race. Excellent – now I can go home and unpack.
Not the Run
A lot of times I sit down to write these and I just don’t like what comes out. I don’t like the message – or there isn’t one – or I don’t like the tone. So I stop. And I think this is where I get behind sometimes. I could argue that it doesn’t matter if I like it. I should just write and whatever comes out, comes out and be done with it. But I also really want to like what I’ve written about. I want other people to like what I write – or at least feel that their time reading it was well spent. I want some good to come from all of this or at the very least for at least one person to think “yeah – I feel you bruh.” or “damn – I’m not the only one.”
I have no delusions about the quality of my writing. It’s – simple. Disjointed. A lot of times pointless. My kids are quick to ask me “did you proof read this?” or “is someone going to edit this – you know – for flow?” I do remember how much better the book I wrote on Flash was after an editor got a hold of it. So – yeah. It’s not that I’m going for “great writing” and get stuck so much as I’m just going for “yes – this is what I wanted to say about this run.”
And it gets really hard when I just don’t know what that is. What do I want to say? I feel like there’s a lot inside of me that I want to get out and I’m counting on running – or writing about running – to help me figure out what that is. Maybe I don’t get to let it out as words. Maybe I have to let it out as running faster. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with running at all. Maybe there are things I want to do or accomplish. I just have this feeling like I should be doing better at staying focused on them and getting them done and out into the world.
Next Week: That Last Run with Dan