Sunday, May 18, 2008


because you're hot

When E and I were "training" (aka running 2.5 miles, tops) for the 10k on Friday evening, I asked her if she hits that spot during a run where she doesn't even focus on the running but is lost in her thoughts. She said yeah, and said that when she runs she sometimes loses track of time, and thinks about things that are bothering her, and really just pounds it out. Others have said similar thoughts to me...that running is a great release.

She was astonished when I said that when I run I'm thinking about each and every step and how much it pretty much blows. I never "lose track of time" and I certainly don't find a zen-like answer to any problems that I'm chewing on.

As we laboriously made our way to RFK, I made a really strong attempt to "get in the zone." I dwelled on things that I was worried about, really narrowed in on them. But my zone-blocker matter how big any of my problems are, the biggest one at that moment is that I'M RUNNING. AND IT'S UNCOMFORTABLE.

I thought more about it. And it comes down to the simple fact that I'm not the type of girl who tries to solve things in a masochistic manner. One of my favorite problem-solving techniques involves an oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie from Potbelly. Or a shower. I always feel better after I take a hot shower. Or, when things are really rough, I settle in for a nice little marathon. A TV-watching marathon.

Thinking about cookies, showers, TV, it gave me a little glow when on the training run. A little energy boost. A ray of sunshine in an otherwise uncomfortable (for the moment) world.

And that's when I realized that My Fuel for running is thinking about awesome things in my life. That's the closest to a zone that I'll ever get. And today during the race I think I actually approached (and possibly occupied) zone-land. I wasn't counting the minutes, or whining to myself about every step. It was like "I'm running. Margaritas. Seamus. I'm running. Oooh Cookies! Car trip with my dad. I'm running. Seeing Cam in Houston! 2-HOUR DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES TONIGHT!!" All that positive thinking really made the time go by much faster.

In terms of the actual race (because I'm sure the masses are dying to know), the beginning was a bit rough. I shadowed two guys who were running my pace...and by "shadowed" I mean, I was actually in their stupid shadows. I stuck to those suckers like glue. It probably annoyed the hell out of them, actually. After we circled the gigantic stadium that I swear has quadrupled in circumference in the past year, I nearly collapsed when I saw the Mile 2 guy holding his sign. I couldn't believe that it was only Mile 2. And where was the freaking water?! Was there a drought on Capitol Hill of which I wasn't aware?!

I walked for about 30 feet to get my breath, recover mentally, and join people who were going a bit slower. I grabbed a water from a cup person who finally materialized, drank it, then soldiered on. Things were, you know, so-so, then I caught a glimpse of the Capitol. And I was like, "I can do this." It really helped me to have a huge monument to look toward. I knew we were going to be running past it and doubling back, but I've done that part before. It was doable. I was going to finish the 10k! Eventually!

During the majority of the race I was pretty convinced that I was at the back of the pack—old ladies kept crossing the street in front of me, and kids on bikes would cross the street behind me...I was in front of or behind the "big opening" they needed to cross. It was a bit demoralizing to have an old lady look me in the eyes and decide that she had the time to go, though I found it amusing at the time. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't running alone, but I wasn't in the thick of it or anything. Around Mile 4 I had visions of my ass stuck to the ambulance grill as it drove along the course, opening it up to the driving public, but when I finally hit the turnaround at the bottom of the Hill of Death (a little past Mile 5), I saw that there were at least...200 people after me? And then there were more people behind the ambulance. So that was a cheerful thought. I wasn't going to be last! Victory!

I approached the Hill of Death thinking "You Are Mine—I've done you before. Last week, remember?!" but I had to walk for a bit up it. No sense killing myself...I wanted to have energy at the top of the hill for the last leg. No need staggering across the finish line and drooling and looking all out of sorts, you know? At the top of the hill I heard a strangled cough coming from about 8 feet behind me and then a loud liquidy splash on the pavement. I didn't turn around. Does that make me a bad person?

When I saw the man holding the Mile 6 sign, I fell in love. How glorious. How beautiful. How poetic.

My time was something around 65 minutes. It's not impressive or anything, but I'm pretty pleased. As a cop said to the dude struggling along way behind the ambulance, "Hey, you got out of bed and came out! So you're already a winner!"

Hey.. are you really leaving.. or was that just a lie to get me to hang out with you more?
Congratulations, Meg! This is a tremendous accomplishment. I ran four years of varsity track and cross country in high school and I couldn't run a 10K with the shape I am in now.
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