Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Part 6 - When Can I Run?

So we crossed the starting mat and made it past the first group of fearful fundalmentalists. But we still weren’t running. The crowd was still too thick to run. It was a little frustrating. I was so worried about being on the slow range of our assigned corral (10-12 minute miles) when now I wondered if it would have been better to have started in the faster corral just so I could at least start off running.

I knew I wouldn’t be running the whole 12k. But I thought I’d run most of it and take walking breaks only occasionally. But it was so hard to run. If you found an opening it closed in just a few seconds. Runners were supposed to stay to the left and walkers to the right. But there were walkers stretched all across the width of the road. Many runners had to run on the sidewalk even though the race guidelines said we were to stay only on the road.

So I worked my way by running and walking as I could around and between the floats and oddly dressed or not dressed participants. Sometimes I could latch onto a running ‘snake’. What would happen is a runner would see another runner spotting an opening and go for it. The other runner would follow the first runner through the opening. Sometimes multiple runners would notice this trailblazing activity and runners would keep adding on to the back end forming a ‘snake’ that would wind its way through the crowd. It worked pretty well except I couldn’t keep up with the others for too long and I’d have to drop off.

I think there were several factors contributing to my poor running performance that day. One was some health issues causing random bouts of fatigue which messed with my training, both hamstrings being pulled which curtailed my training and the fact that I hadn’t hydrated well that morning or the night before.

I could tell as we were walking toward the starting corral that I was dehydrated. We woke up so early and had to leave the hotel quickly that I only drank coffee (to wake me up) and no water that morning. I was thirsty before I started running. There were water stops every two miles along the route. So we opted not to carry our own. I didn’t want to carry more weight than I had to. So I kept my eyes peeled for the first water station.

I was sure I had covered 4 miles before the first one showed. I was so thirsty! Along the way I was contemplating buying a beverage from one of the many road side stands that the locals set up. However, I couldn’t find a beverage stand that sold anything without alcohol in it. The last thing I needed was “Tequilla shooters $1 ea (3 for $2)”

There were lots of little stands selling snacks and beverages. Lot’s of stands had “Homemade Brownies” for sale. Yeah, no way am I buying “Homemade Brownies” in San Francisco! I not only wanted to finish the race but I wanted to remember it too.

It was pretty disgusting along the route because every so often you’d get big whiffs of the “Wacky Tobbacky”. That is the last thing I want to smell on the route. What the h*ll!?!?! That is the exact opposite of why I am here. I do not hang out with people who do that and I certainly don’t want to be exposed to it on a run! I’ll admit I was pretty p*ssed off. For those of you who don’t already know, I am so anti-drug use that I make Nancy Regan look like a counter-culture hippy!

I’ll admit I should have expected it being San Francisco and all. But I was taken aback. There were also surprisingly a lot of people smoking cigarettes on the route. Granted, they weren’t running with cigarettes in their hands. But I saw several walkers that were smoking cigarettes. Yuck! I hated coming up behind someone breathing hard and getting a snoutful of second hand smoke! I learned quickly to watch as I approached people and re-route if possible.

To be fair, there was a small percentage of smokers on the route. Most participants weren’t smoking anything. So that’s good. I just prefer non-smoking running routes.

So there I was thirsty as a sponge in the Mohave desert and praying for the water stop to appear and it did!!! It was a beautiful sight! 20 or more volunteers lined up with gigantic water bottles; a million cups strung along the ground from the runners in front of me. I searched for the cup table and found an empty table. I jogged up to the first volunteer.

“Where did I miss the cups?” I asked with a desperate look in my eyes.

“We’re out,” he replied.

“What?!” I’m sure my face registered desperation.

“I can poor it in your mouth,” he said.

I tilted my head up and hoped I could drink like that without drowning. Then I remembered my college days. College is where I learned and perfected creative drinking techniques. Nothing beats a good education. Thank you Mom and Dad. That’s money well spent!!

Now partially hydrated, I went on my running/walking way. I knew after the first water stop was the dreaded HILL. I just didn’t know how far ahead it was. I was worried about how long it would take me to get up it. I wanted to run it. But with how I was already performing I didn’t think I’d have any juice left for the second half of the route if I did.

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