Monday, May 05, 2008

the pig has flown


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I finished my second marathon of the year on Sunday. It was fun, but the last two miles were pure agony.

Allie and I drove to the Cincinnati area on Friday. We stayed with her friend Amy.

On Saturday we went to the new Ikea. It was overwhelming. Afterward we drove into Cincinnati. I went to the race expo, and then they dropped me off at a hotel so I could get to the race more easily in the morning. There was a Narcotics Anonymous convention at the hotel, and they were partying in the pool area, right below my window. But I put in earplugs, turned the TV on static and slept with a pillow over my head. That did the trick.

The next morning, on my way to the race, I bought a Sharpee. After I parked my car near the race, I wrote on my running singlet "JOE from K.C. MO." This turned out to be a very wise move.

We started by Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals play. The start was delayed 15 minutes. None of us knew why.

With a gun blast, the race began. We crossed a beautiful bridge just as the sun was rising. Then, a couple miles later, we crossed back on another bridge with a beautiful view of downtown. By the time we got to the skyscrapers, the crowd had spread out a bit. There were a lot of people lining the streets. With the crowd thinned somewhat, spectators could see my shirt and they started to cheer for me. It was surreal. We were running into the morning sun and the people on the sidewalks were silhouetted but they were all calling my name as if they knew me or I were the most popular person in south Ohio.

We climbed a long hill into a lovely park overlooking the city and the Ohio River. Then we passed through a trendy area where Allie and Amy were waiting for me to pass.

A little ways later, I saw several runners huddled by the side of the road. As I approached, I noticed they were surrounding someone who was laying on the ground. A few more steps and I made out a couple people kneeling over him pumping his chest and blowing into his mouth. As I passed, I saw that his face was purple.

This was an unsettling sight, to say the least, especially at such a fun, silly event. There were all kinds of people out cheering the runners on (me in particular, by name). A lot of them wore flying pig paraphernalia. I high-fived a human-sized pig and an equally tall chicken. There were pirates serving water and Gatorade in one spot, and beach bums in another.

I did the run-walk thing for the first 8 miles, then I decided to run between the aid stations. My goal was to break 5 hours.

I had to pee three times in the first half, so I was pretty far behind schedule. But as I ran, I seemed to be gaining ground. At mile 20, I passed the five-hour pace group. I thought for sure I had it in the bag.

At mile 22, I passed the guy in the full-body shark costume.

Then, at 23 or 24, I hit the wall big time.

By the time I got to the 25.2 mile mark, where the guy said, "Just one more mile to go," I exclaimed, "Fuck it!" and started to whttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifalk. Just then, a woman who was passing me turned and said, "Come on, Joe! I've been hearing your name the whole way. You can't give up now."

So I willed my body into a pathetic, painful shuffle and forced myself toward the finish line. At first, it looked really close, and I felt relieved. Then it telescoped away, like a dream sequence in a bad 70s tv show. At the 26 mile mark, I suddenly heard Allie and Amy. I looked over at them just as I was passing. They would later say that they were worried I was angry at them. That's how bad I looked.

When we got home, I looked up my official time. 5:02:56.

I was dumbfounded. How could I run all that way and make up so little time over Austin?

The next morning, on our way home, we picked up a local newspaper. On the front page was about the man I saw fallen on the side of the road. Allie read it to me as I drove. I was happy to learn that he survived.

Allie also read the news that the race had been delayed because of a house fire on the course. This caused a last-minute change in the route which added at least a quarter mile. My face brightened.

"That means I probably broke five hours!"

We'll see. It's going to be close.

3 comments:

somebird said...

joe, you are a crazy fucker! i can't possibly understand why in the world you would want to run for 5 straight hours.... but WAY TO GO all the same!

joe said...

I don't. I want to run for three and a half hours. But I'm too slow.

Applecart T. said...

good job!
it blows my mind how these marathons (like kc's a few years back) can just arbitrarily change the distance by mistake or poorly thought out necessity, and not get the math right or tell the runners that their bodies will have tricks played on them. what if baseball stadiums had moveable outfields!