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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Host of Bad Ideas

I kinda feel like this post should just be a list, but I know I owe it to my fans (okay, the one person who occasionally reads this blog out of Catholic guilt and her fear of getting unfriended if I find out she didn't...) to use some foo-foo words and colorful phrases to spice it up a bit. Let's face it - I can't afford to lose my one fan, so it's all about what you, bestie!

Today's post is aptly titled, "A Host of Bad Ideas." I'm not beating around the bush here - I admit I made a lot of poor decisions leading up to the Harpoon 5 miler race this past weekend. As you know (well, assuming you read my last post), my friend gave me about 67 minutes to think about my decision when she invited me to join in her "6-pack team" for this race a couple of months ago. I buckled under the pressure and said yes. Enter Bad Idea #1. As you also know, I was incredibly lazy, unmotivated, absorbed-in-the-mommy-porn trilogy, sick, and much more interested in consuming calories than burning them this winter, so I didn't train much for this run. #2. I caught what I suspect might be a sinus infection about two weeks ago and still haven't recovered. When I'm not coughing my innards out, I'm busy pulling an ab muscle or cracking a rib trying to sniff that elusive snot back into my nose before it sneaks out and drips onto my lap in the middle of an important work meeting, again raising suspicion that I might just need a 24/7 PCA. While this cold/possible-sinus-infection wasn't my fault, I never have been very good about taking care of myself and either preventing or recovering from various illnesses. #3.

Okay - blahditty, blah, blah. Now the good stuff. The next bad idea I had was to drive to Boston from Western Mass (2 hours) the night before the race, *after* I got the kids to bed. #4. Oops - and #4b - I waited to pack until after the kids went to bed, so when I theoretically could have been on the road by 8pm had I planned ahead and packed early, I didn't actually get in the car until 9:15pm. Got to my friend's apartment by 11pm, and stayed up for another hour chatting with her while smiling nicely and petting her two crazy dogs and two crazy cats and secretly cursing myself for a) only bringing black clothes with me and b) forgetting my lint roller. #5, 6, and 7. Fast forward to the next morning - race day! I got up at 7:45, got dressed, washed my face, cleared a space on the table of weeks old chocolate chip cookies, cat hair, and some unidentifiable soggy paper products, and settled in to eat my power bar and drink some chocolate milk (breakfast of champions, right?). Nope - my friend had other ideas. She guilted me into eating oatmeal. She runs quite a bit and she's always been much better at making healthy decisions than I have, so I caved and figured she knew what she was talking about. #8. Why didn't I remember, at that moment rather than two hours later as I was dragging myself toward Mile Marker 2, Quaker Oatmeal's claim to fame is that it sticks to your ribs? Had I remembered that at a more opportune time, I certainly would have known that eating it would not only top my list of bad ideas for this race, but it also would have enabled me to gleefully sing "I told you so..." to my friend while passing her doubled over on the side of the race route. Oh, well - they say "Hindsight is 20/20." They also say "Everyone's a Monday morning quarterback." And now, thanks to this horrific experiment, I know that they also say "Never eat rubber-cement-surpassing oatmeal on a day you need to move faster than an inchworm."

Just before we left the apartment and got into the cab, this same friend reminded me to put on sunblock. I thought she was being a little ridiculous - I wasn't planning on taking *that* long to finish the race, but I listened. Good idea, right? But the bad idea part was this - I didn't ask anyone to help reach the middle of my back - you know, that 1 1/2" section where no matter how hard you try to contort yourself, you just can't reach? And I didn't look in the mirror to really see just how much I was missing, but instead, I just naively assumed it was "close enough." Oh, and I didn't even think about my scalp.Yep - enter bad idea #9.

So - we get to the mayhem that was the race. I pee three times, down a cup of water, pee twice more, and scope out all the people in costumes. I couldn't help but feel bad for the Smurf team - why would they ever think blue face paint, blue-stockinged arms, and long white pants would be a good idea on what was supposed to be an 80+ degree not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day? Perhaps they are all now blogging their own "Bad Ideas" list... We check our bags, by which I mean we tied our three bags together, tossed them into the bigger-than-the-Titanic pile behind a table neatly labeled "Bag Check," and hoped for the best. (Thankfully, though - this doesn't have to be discussed as a bad idea. Turns out no one wanted our three ratty tied-together bags full of used deodorant, antibacterial wipes, melted and passed-over-for-the-spawn-of-Satan-oatmeal power bars, clean undies, and six tubes of chap stick... Phew!)

A bigger race that I've been in before had runners line up at the start line according to how fast they run - 8 minute miles here, 9 minute miles there, 10 minute miles back here, and people who didn't realize this was a race and just got in line to see what was going on but it's too late to get out now over there. This race's organizers, however, thought it made more sense for people to just aimlessly mosey on up to the start line in any grouping they chose. Yes, okay, fine. It was nice to stand in line with my friends, but once the race started, I realized I was in over my head. People were bolting past me while others engaged in some kind of I'm-not-really-a-runner-but-I-swing-my-arms-and-make-walking-look-pretty-fast-thing. I had no idea how to pace myself with such a wide variety of speed demons and Sunday drivers around. I should have either worn blinders, brought my trusty metronome, or just figured out some way to find a good speed for myself, regardless of what everyone else was doing. But I didn't. #10.

For the next bad idea on my list, a couple of things from my past come to mind and I guess a teensy bit of storytelling is in order to help those of you who do not live inside my head to understand it. So - we all know athletes are big into rituals. The pros do it, and if I ever cared enough to watch any professional sport I could cite examples here, but trust me when I say they do. In every sport I've ever played, I've had particular items of clothing that I wore for every game - they were my good luck charms and/or so ridiculous and ugly that they distracted the other team and gave me a slight advantage to make up for all that my athleticism lacked. In high school basketball, it was a certain pair of hot pink scrunch socks (it was indeed the early 90s, but even then they looked horrible with the team's red uniforms); in high school softball, it was a particular bra that gave my girls a little lift and just enough bounce to draw attention to them instead of the ball while I was running bases; and in college rugby, it was a hideous bright yellow turtleneck that I wore under my uniform, even in the hottest months. It seems, then, that bad idea #11 was not realizing that I should have a trusty piece of clothing for races, too... The other bad idea here is closely connected to this realization, and relates back to the nights I chose to read the 50 Shades of Grey books instead of getting my lazy butt on the treadmill and preparing for this race. #12. I joked with a friend that at least while I was walking in this race and hyperventilating from overexertion, I'd have some "entertaining" scenes from the book playing in my mind. Little did I know just how right I was - that I would be dying during the race, and that my mind would be miles and miles away from the task at hand at times... I bet you're still wondering, though, how the lack of ritual clothing and the X-rated book scenes related, you might ask? Well, good question... It seems, somehow, that had I had some ritual undies, not only would my luck had been better, but perhaps my endurance, too - as my running abilities were most certainly sabotaged by the permanent wedgie I experienced and the inability to fix it because I knew the people behind me would have seen it! As I tried to ignore it, I couldn't help but think of Christian salaciously whispering, "Oh Ana..." and then bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep!

Finally, the race was over. I had swallowed my pride and walked part of it, but I still managed to do all 5 miles in 54:35 minutes - that's less than 11 minute miles - and sprinted across the finish line for that glorious victory photo that I later realized was probably not being taken by a race employee but rather a creepy guy in a fisherman's vest who specializes in opportunism rather than photojournalism. #13. I met up with my friends and we quickly found our way to the beer tent. I did make myself drink a pint glass of water first, but then it was five beers in the hot sun with only a tiny bit of lettuce-disguised-as-a-salad and very undercooked ziti noodles with watery red sauce (the latter being loosely defined). Bad idea #14, #15, and #16, respectively. Attempting to again put on my own sunblock: Bad idea #17. Going to a restaurant after the party ended for some real food, in our race clothes, with our bibs still on: Good idea. Ordering more beer and getting into a very serious argument with someone I just met about the sex appeal of various South Boston actors, in South Boston. Bad idea #18. Happily hopping into a cab with no meter but really loud music and a fun-seeming cabbie who then threatened to call the cops because he thought we stiffed him when he jacked his quote by 20%: Bad idea #19. Trusting the same friend who convinced me that pre-race oatmeal was a good idea to now make me a post-race margarita: Bad idea #20.

I think I'm going to end it here. I'd prefer to come up with a few more so I could hit 25 bad ideas and go out with a bang, but I'd run the risk of just making stuff up and no one likes a liar. 20 is a nice round number, and honestly, aren't 20 bad ideas enough for one event anyway, isn't it??? Upon reflection, it seems kind of amazing that I survived that day, with only a slightly bruised ego from not being able to run it all, sore ribs from laughing so much, a sunburned scalp and middle back where I couldn't get the sunblock, and only one picture from the whole day because I begrudgingly left my camera at home for fear of a less-than-exemplary "bag check." If I do this race again next year, maybe I can shave this list down to 15 items or less on my Bad Ideas list? We all need goals in life, right?

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