I first tried to go the bathroom earlier this afternoon, and, upon realizing too late that my atrophied legs couldn’t support me on my way down, I slammed onto the seat. I couldn’t believe it didn’t break out of pure surprise. The weight of one full human, catapulting itself in the shape of buns onto a hollow piece of plastic…. And now I can add bruising to the already chaffed region.
So here I am in this moment, trying to lay as still as possible under my covers because I cannot afford one of my legs to be met with resistance from the neighboring sheets. I enjoyed dinner just a few hours ago, making my way to and from the car like a person who had just been rammed with a stick in between their thighs, forced to bend forward at a slight 45 degree angle, and not allowed to move their feet from the perfect perpendicular position on the leg.
The long expected Cowtown Marathon arrived this morning, packaged up for me like a swift little kick in the behind with a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call. “Winging it” again, I was forced to take the last two and a half weeks of training off, only to really and truly run a maximum of five miles in that entire period of time. Focusing instead on the tapering and resting principle, I excelled at providing fresh and rested muscles for the race. I took two puffs of my inhaler, an Alieve, and chugged a glass of CranEnergy. As someone who doesn’t drink a lot of caffeine, I somehow overstimulated myself: steroid + caffeine= twitching, tweaking out, loss of visual coordination, heart palpitations, and a serious need to use the restroom.
Beginning my conniving earlier than usual, I opted to ‘cut’ into the faster corral group than was labeled on my bib. When the horn finally sounded for our cheaters’ group, Celene and I took off like Thanksgiving shoppers headed for the turkey aisle. I felt suffocated in the throngs of people, prancing about with no real clear direction ahead. About 150 yards into the race, I took matters into my own hands and joined an Irishman on the grassy median, an action he insisted was softer on the feet. He was right, until I felt a sudden hardness against my toe and within a moment was kissing the grass. Yes, I should have known that I would be the only one to trip less than 1/10th of a mile into a marathon. Getting up quickly, I surveyed my bloody knee and grass stains, brushed the leaves off of my shirt, and spent the next three miles scratching the hives on my elbows (from the grass). I decided I deserved to munch on my astronaut food a little early.
Throughout the race, I passed many an encouraging sign: “Do your feet hurt? That’s because you’re kicking a**!” And, “Bananas, Jelly Beans, and Vaseline…We’re not kinky, just trying to help!” But the greatest motivation came from those wearing shirts like, “Catch me if you can” or “I run to be,” mostly when they were draped across the walking frames I was passing swiftly.
I hit a wall around mile 16 and realized I was in for a long ride. I struggled to maintain focus as I felt my fresh muscles burning to try and keep up the stamina. I yelled back to the encouraging spectators’ supporting calls with, “this is for crazy people” and “I will never do this again.” First, my quads began to bellow, then my achilles. Pressing on in a walk-run sequence of 100 feet on/100 feet off for nearly 10 miles, it was all I could do to hang in there. I watched as the pacers passed me one by one in fifteen minute increments, and was dejected to see my goal time glide up a hill without me as I walked the brutal incline in a daze. But as I turned the corner of the finish line, I saw the stop clock calling out numbers I wasn’t ready to see. With 17 seconds remaining before the start of the five hour mark, I knew this race wouldn’t get the best of me. I blew out those last fifty yards, ignorant that my time would be faster anyways based off of my chip.
But alas, even with all my ailments, and my complete inability to use the facilities on my own, my day didn’t suffer as much as the guy pictured above (blurred for privacy purposes). Bleeding nipples at mile nineteen, this warrior kept his shirt on until blood ran down the front as he crossed the finish line. If anyone deserves a medal, it’s him. And by gosh, why wouldn’t he just take it off?