I usually try to write about branding and marketing related issues. Sometimes I’m able to tie those posts into chats about my morning runs at various hotels. Not this time. On Saturday I did my longest run to date and have come up with no business value at all. Just thought it was worth relating, for a cathartic experience if nothing else. I can’t do a mile-by-mile recap because I’ve blocked most of it from my mind, kind of like the pain of childbirth.
3:45 AM. Wake up and look at alarm clock. Realize I need to get up in 15 minutes in order to meet the group at 4:30. Think for the first time (but most definitely not the last) “What in the world am I doing?”
4:10 AM. Pull all my gear on. Apply my nip guards – the little foam rubber band aid things that cover your nipples and keep them from being rubbed raw on a long run.
I decided to look into something to protect my tender vestigials after the time I came home from a 10-mile run with two red lines running down the front of my shirt and almost went through the roof when the hot water from the shower hit my chest. Never happened when I wore cotton tee shirts but since I run in 150 percent humidity I’ve learned that cotton absorbs so much sweat it could drown a fully grown Jersey cow and weighs enough to replace those ankle weights you see people wearing. Now thanks to high-tech running shirts constructed of moisture wicking dry fit material made from a proprietary alloy of sandpaper, crushed glass, fiberglass insulation and melted-down barbed wire I’ve discovered the magic sensation of chaffing.
4:15 AM. Walk outside. Like a bolt from the blue I remember that last night I dreamt that I lived in North America and it was winter. Realize that like the poor schmuck in Kafka’s Metamorphosis I woke up changed. But instead of turning into a cockroach, I’ve been transported to Sub-Saharan Africa and it’s the middle of August.
4:20 AM. Show up at South Miami Hospital. There are at least 60 other people all ready there. What is wrong with these people? Have the usual, “Hi, how are you? How was your week? Really? The doctor says it’s tendinitis? (or a sprain or a stress fracture, etc. ad infinitum) conversation with every person I greet.
4:40 Set our watches and start running. Different parts of my body immediately start sending me signals. “Hey, I’m your right shin. The place with tendenosis, REMEMBER? Well if you don’t, I’ll remind you.” “Hey, I’m your left calf, the one you sprained last week. I’m just going to keep throbbing so you remember me.” “Hey, I’m your…”
Mile 2 – We pass a homeless guy living under the MetroRail. He tries to stop each of us with a not so compelling “Buddy, can I talk to you for a minute?” As if any of us have anything of value to give him besides our already soaking wet dri-fit running apparel anyway. Oh yeah, there are the gizmo hounds who run slowly but still have thousand dollar Garmin GPS watches that measure their progress to the millimeter. Wonder if he wants one of those to measure his progress?
Mile 4 — Our group speeds up to pass the 10:00 group (we’re 10:30, mind you). A rumble starts amongst the assembled throng, as all the runners with the thousand dollar Garmin watches announce that we’re running 9:20s. Well no wonder why my legs hurt so much.
First water stop — Gulping the two cups is pleasant enough. Trouble starts when I resume running. Seems that during the quick break someone serendipitously injected my joints with epoxy and now they’re frozen shut. Plus, whoever did it must have used a rusty needle because my joints really hurt. Is this what lockjaw feels like? When did I get that last tetanus shot anyway?
Mile 5 — My inner thigh socket starts to scream in pain. I didn’t even know I HAD an inner thigh socket.
Mile 6 — I’m running through Coconut Grove now. Looking forward to the water stop at Kennedy Park. But not for the water, I’m jonesing for the bathroom. How is it even possible that I have to pee when I’m so thoroughly drenched with sweat there can’t possibly be any unclaimed liquid inside of me?
Second water stop. I cruise past the coolers and go right into the bathroom. The other three 50+ guys in our group are already there, plus a over-achieving 40 year old. I swear that one of these days I’m going to make us all “Team Flomax Racing” shirts. No one laughs.
Mile 7 — I’m a good quarter mile behind my group and fading fast. Luckily one of those giant ambulance trucks positioning itself for the turn into Mercy Hospital decides to sound its siren just as it passes me to propel me to alertness. However many years I’ve added to my life by running have just been scared right out of me. Not to mention the deleterious effects of the diesel fumes I’m inhaling in the lifesaving truck’s noxious wake.
Mile 8 — I’m on Rickenbacker Causeway and running so slowly I think I’m actually going backwards.
Mile 9 — At the foot of the bridge my iPod announces I’ve gone nine miles. Halfway!! It means I can turn around without having to go over the bridge. If, on the other hand, Einstein’s theory of relativity is correct, I’ve been running so slowly that I should actually wind up back where I started by running in the same direction.
No such luck.
Miles 10 and 11 — Nothing new to report. Everything hurts. I’m going slow. Imagine.
Josh Lieberman, the organizer of the Footworks training program, drives by in his Explorer looking for injured stragglers. He rolls down his window and asks if I’m okay. I’m going so slow at this point he has to shift into Park just to stay up with me. I lie and tell him I’m fine. He offers me an Energy Bar.
Mile 12 — Back at the water stop. No one in my group anywhere to be found. No water left in the coolers either.
Mile 13 — I’m now running up the Grand Avenue hill into downtown Coconut Grove (no, I never knew there was a hill there, either. At least not when I drove it). I’m being passed by old ladies. With knee braces. I think one of them only has one leg but she’s passing me so quickly I can’t focus on her legs well enough to count to two.
I stop at Greenstreet Café to beg for water. The waitress who brings my poached eggs and rye toast most mornings doesn’t even recognize me. When she does she stifles a shriek and starts giggling. I feel like the actor in Midnight Express begging his girlfriend from behind the prison glass. But all I want is for her to fill my water bottle.
Leaving the Grove I run into David, a friend of mine who’s running the other way. He manages to suppress his looks of pity and turns to run with me. The good news is that the addition of a more active runner scares away the turkey vultures who’ve been following me, looking forward to a quick, albeit it salty, meal.
Mile 14 — Back at the first water stop. There’s a group of old guys all wearing tee shirts from various marathons and talking about their Rolls Royce Phantoms. None of them are sweaty. I’m hoping they just woke up and drove their Rolls Royces to the water stop because they all look a lot better than I do. And they’re each at least 75.
Mile 15 — 16 I think everything hurts at this point. I’m not really sure. Good thing my ASICS know the way home.
Mile 17 — We’re waiting to cross US1. David says he doesn’t like to cross halfway because he’s afraid of standing on the median and being hit and killed by a speeding truck. I’m thinking it sounds like a pretty good idea.
Mile 18 — I can’t believe it. We’re back at the hospital. My car’s still there. Most of my group has already stretched, done their core workouts, washed and detailed their cars and left for home. A few guys are still standing around kibitzing. And a few of them apparently haven’t returned yet.