Monday, June 6, 2011

DXA2 (This is going to be a long one)


Saturday all of my friends were heading down the Mike's suite to hang out in Ann Arbor, swim in the pool and hot tub, have the best burger in Ann Arbor at Grizzly Peak, and drink lots of beer.  Meanwhile, in Flint, I'm at Bed, Bath, and Beyond helping add items to a wedding registry.  To put it lightly I hate shopping.  To elaborate just a bit, being in a store for over 30 minutes actually makes me anxious and in complete disgust of American consumer culture.  I tried really hard to be helpful for the first 30 minutes, and actually did find things we actually could use.  At the same time, though, we pretty much have almost everything.  We cook like crazy, and there's not much that we don't have that's a standard wedding gift thing.  We already have a house full of what we both think is too much stuff, and just the idea that people will be getting us more is almost terrifying. 

After 30 minutes, I was done, but I stuck it out, didn't complain and put a very large effort into not even letting my body language show I was done.  This went on for another hour and a half.  At about that time, I got into a little bit of a manic zone.  When I don't get sleep for an extended period of time, I get really fatigued, and suddenly snap into a slightly manic phase if I make it through being fatigued and don't fall asleep.  The same apparently happens with shopping.  All of a sudden I'm buzzing around "Threebees" with ideas popping into my head, "oooh, we need one of the flippy omelette pans," "we gotta find a rice cooker too," "I need a pasta crimper for when I do pierogies, and I can make homemade raviolis and pie crusts."  I'm not proud of it, but it was mission accomplished (at least for that store) and I was helpful to a degree that made Jessi happy. 
Three and a half hours later, we were leaving the store with a shopping hangover and in dire need of food.  We ended up finally trying John's Pizza, which has been on the target list for a while.  It tasted a lot like the pizza we eat on vacation in Empire.  For one of the few times in our entire existence as a couple, we even got desert, which was some wonderful mint ice cream pie concoction that we split.

On the way home we stopped at Meijer so she could get her shampoo.  I had no mission there.  I thought about maybe getting some Capri Suns, but ended up thinking I wanted to look at the mens section for some work clothes.  I didn't make it there.  I had been wearing the Brooks all day to break them in for Sunday, but they were still agitating my heel (and starting on the next one).  Upon inspection earlier in the day, I realized it was because they have something in the back of the heel of the Ghost 3 that almost feels like a small looped wire or something (design stupidity), and that's what was killing me.  As I was heading to the dude clothes, I saw some reeboks I really liked the looks of, and said "what the hell."

I tried them on at one of the benches as some teen, trying on clothes, was being disrespectful to her mother as her mother was being disrespectful to the grandma (who the teen was partially defending).  Three generations of disrespect and bickering was kind of fun to listen in on, but pretty sad at the same time.  I walked in the Reeboks, and immediately knew "these are nice, but not for me."  Suddenly, "just find something that will be better than what I have on" became my store mission.  I went through some New Balance and even tried on a pair of LA Gear shoes before I inevitably made my way to the Adidas wall.  That's where things got settled, trying on two pair, and settling on these.
They ended up being just under $50, and they didn't feel absolutely perfect, so I was still skeptical of going with them for DXA2.  The rest of the night I kept trying to decide whether I would roll with these, or go with the devil I know and just tape the heels really well since that's the only problem.  I never came to any conclusion and I set both out on the table for the next day with all my other stuff.

Race Day

My internal alarm kicked me awake at 4:25, about 5 minutes before the actual alarm went off.  I was amazed that this happened again just like the Mackinac race.  I got ready, put on some suntan lotion, put on the Homestar Runner shirt, and grabbed my waters and Gatorade out of the fridge.  Then came the decision of shoes.  I taped the heels, grabbed the Brooks and set them right back down, putting on the Adidas.  I still wasn't sure, so I grabbed the Brooks and put them in their box, and took them with me.  I also brought a change of clothes, as I planned on going to church down there as well.

The drive down was really dead.  I guess there's not a lot of travel at 5am on a Sunday, so I made great time.  I was in Ann Arbor at 6:00, and found the reserved parking ramp with ease.  I picked up my shirt and bib, went back to the car, and put them on, still considering a shoe change, even thinking that the Brooks matched my red shirt better and I'd look a lot more "pro."  Rocky Balboa saying "no tricks, I ain't switchin'" popped into my head so I said to myself, "If you want to be a tiger, stay with the stripes," which could be a great marketing campaign for Adidas, I think. 

I got out of the car, made a quick pit stop, and stretched out the muscles a little bit.  While I was stretching, a guy about my size walked by with a big ol' bag of McDonald's breakfast and we shared a glance for a good 10 seconds as he walked by.  After the glance, he looked at my bib and shoes, back at his bag, and then back at me.  It's times like that where I wish I could read minds.  After I finished stretching out the car ride I hopped on the bus for Dexter.  This was my second trip on a school bus in the past two weekends.  I even sat in the same seat in the back.  This time I had a seat buddy, but this trip was not as lively as the Mackinac bus.  Everyone was really quiet and kept to themselves.  The guy who sat next to me seemed really internally focused, and I didn't even get any eye contact or a nod of recognition, so I just let him stay in his race zone.

As the bus pulled out, I couldn't help but smile and think "here we go again."  The ride to Dexter seemed like an awful long trip on the bus.  I was getting kind of freaked out knowing that the only way back was to run it or get picked up by the shame cart.  Finally the bus pulled up to the Dexter school, and we heard over the bus radio that they were dropping us off from the wrong location and were supposed to be coming from the other road.  There was a scatter of laughter, and a woman said "It's not a race if there's not a glitch."  I can relate to that!  Wrong drop-off point, or not, that's where they dropped us, and we walked to the school.

I was safely in the right place with almost an hour to spare.  From there I hung out in the shade, stretched several times, looked for four-leaf clovers, and did some people-watching.  I chuckled at a few MSU people wearing their green and white for a race ending in Ann Arbor just like me during the Big House, Big Heart.  I did a lot of shirt reading looking for more race ideas.  With race time approaching, the porta-johns were lined up for miles, so I followed the nature kids to the woods to water some plants.  Then I lined up for the national anthem.  After the anthem I got Caviar's "The Thin Mercury Sound" ready and waiting for the start.

The crowd began to move, and we started walking to the start.  Then we had the usual run start which is:  start to run, screech to dead stop, walk again, and run just before crossing the start.  I bopped a green balloon on the starting arch for luck, and off we went. The beginning of the race was a steady incline much like the Volkslaufe and the Martian, just a little something to get in your head right away, but nothing new to me.  Besides, shortly after we went back down a hill, then back up, then down.  Wait a tick...didn't the race website say this thing was "relatively flat?"  Relative to what? 

It was pretty tight for the first couple miles, and I kept getting boxed in.  I didn't want to go rushing past too many people, but I also didn't want to waste energy trying to go slower than I wanted.  So I finally decided to work my way out of these packs when I got stuck in them.  I was right at about 10 minute miles for the first 6 miles.  Most of them I was over, but a few I was under.  No matter, I was happy with that pace, and focused on not having the late collapse I had at the Martian.  I felt really good, and thought if I kept it up, I had a shot at beating the Martian adjusted time (2:20:53).  There was still a long way to go, and it was almost 30 degrees warmer for this race.

The weather report said all week that it would be warm Sunday, so I cut off drinking caffeine at the latter part of the week, skipping my morning coffee from Wednesday on, and hydrated religiously the two days before.  I forgot at John's and had a Mello Yello, though (oops).  During the race, I took every water stop, even when I didn't think I needed it.  I got so dehydrated at the Martian after waiting so long to get a drink, I told myself this time I would take drinks early and often, to see how it goes.  This ended up working a lot better for me.  I lose a lot of water in general, which is why I've often referred to myself as the "human waterfall."  This race was no different and I had a steady stream of sweat raindrops dripping off my hat by mile 5.

As I said, Miles 1-6 were about 10 minutes each, but 7 was a bit slower.  Part of the reason was the big hill about halfway in between 7 and 8.  I did eat up a lot of racers there, but I did lose my 10 minute pace and it was about 10:40ish.  I also lost a little bit of energy, but I kept pushing, and some random guy came from the left over to me and held out a fist for me to bump.  I didn't leave him hanging.  I'm not sure if he was bumping me for fighting the hill or for something else.  He didn't say a word, but I wouldn't have heard anyway.  I was now blasting the "TRON: Legacy" soundtrack attempting to keep a constant, almost mechanical pace.  It worked, until that hill, but at least I knew at this point I wasn't going to be caught by the cart of shame and have to get picked up for being over a 13 minute pace.

Needing a little pick-me-up, I put on some Evil Cowards (Electric Six's frontman, Dick Valentine's side project) and tried to regain my pace.  I did make up a little between 8 and 9.  Part of that was because I thought I saw someone I knew, and I wanted to catch them.  It turned out just to be someone that looked and ran similar, but I did end up passing them.  From there I started picking people to catch, and I continued to catch and pass them, despite tailing off in speed (badly) after mile 9.  I was also getting a knot in my back, because I think my shoulder is still slightly out.

For some reason between the 9 and 10 mark, I was dying.  I tried to work out of it by slowing up a little, trying out a few other music selections (Hockey, Joy Electric,which used to work great when writing long term papers, and Kid Brother Collective), and psyching myself up thinking "one more mile and it's just a 5K."  It didn't work, and whatever I had left was out of the office.  I had hit the wall.  All this taking it slow business, and I was still going to fade out.  Oh well, I didn't care, I knew I would finish, and I could blame the slower time on the heat. 

When I finally saw 10, I was starting to break out of it, but I looked at the time and saw I had just 32 minutes (by my estimated chip time figuring it took about 3 minutes to get to the start) to run the last 3.1 and be under the Martian.  I thought about my Swartz Creek run the day after running about 15 miles, and said "screw it, I'm running this out, let's go."  I crossed the 10 mile mark, and nothing.  I still think I have that Crim mentality, and since the 10 miler was the initial goal I have a hard time going past that.  I just couldn't kick it in.  I took drastic measures and resorted to Andrew W.K.  Finally the reserves came out of hiding, and I was burning the course up.  I caught a lot of people, and saw a few I hadn't seen since the beginning of the race.  I was going HARD.

I planned on keeping this up through the end, and going into a dead sprint to the finish, but we came around a left turn, went under a bridge, and just as I'm ready to bust out the afterburners, there was a hill.  What the hell?  Really?  I started cursing like hell in my mind and asking why someone would do such a thing.  When you're finishing a half marathon, you want to bust it out at the end and have a nice coast where you can let loose, not fight a stupid hill.  Ugh.  I was just so irritated, and barely even noticed that some of the people I just passed started to catch and pass me again.

Oh well, I fought it off, and got to the short flat before the finish, and pulled out everything I had left to beat a guy next to me in a grey shirt.  At the very least, I wasn't going to let him beat me.  He put up a great fight though.  We were neck and neck all the way down until about 100 yards from the end, where I left him behind and finished only about 10 feet ahead.  The clock read 2:19 and some change, and I knew, regardless of chip time, I was definitely under my Martian time, and ran the last 3.1 in about 28 minutes.  Not too shabby.

I didn't see any of my friends at the finish or lined by the street.  They actually missed me, figuring that I'd be slower than the Martian.  I also didn't see any water.  That really bothered me.  I stood in a line for some refreshments, but there were so many people there, and I couldn't wait that long.  I tried to find some water somewhere, and all I ran into was all the group booths that had drinks only for their members.  Where the hell was the water?  This is the first race where this was a problem, and I was freaking out.  Luckily I wasn't anywhere near as bad off as I was at the end of the Martian, because if I was I would have probably passed out.  I finally found a couple people filling a cooler with water and taking it to the race finish where racers and volunteers both were dipping cups into the top of the cooler.  It was utter chaos.  Maybe we missed something, but that was all the water I saw around.

Finally I came to my senses, and wondered what the hell I was doing there begging for more water.  I had a full Gatorade and two waters in my car, and it was in the shade of a parking ramp so it was probably still cool.  I went back to the car, and went through all three right away and called my friend Mike.  Jen, Nick, Ken, and him were downtown at the finish line, and were surprised to find out I had been done for a while.  I told them to meet me by the ramp in the shade.  I needed a bathroom, but settled for a porta-john again.  Whatever, I didn't have time to be picky.  Luckily there was still sanitizer left in the one I found.  I met up with my friends, and Mike talked me into going to Taste Fest.

I went back to the car, changed into my DXA2 shirt, changed out of my shorts into some clean boxers and cargo shorts that had pockets, and met back up with the group.  We walked back to Main St. and I bought $10 of Taste Fest tickets.  That ended up being a total waste.  All I got was 3 very small chicken sliders, a capri sun (yes, I've had Capri Sun on the brain lately, not sure why), and a pepsi (glass bottle)...not worth it.  Oh well, I spent it, and it was time to go.

We went back to Mike's hotel, and sat around for a bit while he watched some Bill Maher, who I used to like, but who now thinks every thought he has is gospel truth that he's entirely impossible for me to tolerate.  I'm not sure if he's always been that way and I just finally noticed it, or if it's happened over time.  Either way, I had to stop paying attention to it, even though I was tired enough to sit and stare at anything.  Jen and Ken had to get back to Flint, so they left after telling me about all the trouble they got into Saturday night.  It was probably a good thing Jessi worked Sunday morning and we couldn't go down Saturday night.  After I took a quick shower, Mike, Nick, and I hit the pool.  I found a small rubber football in the pool skimmer and threw that around for a bit.  We also found a small rubber fish that squirted water, but that wasn't as entertaining.  After horsing around for a bit I started rotating from the pool to the hot tub and back, which was just the perfect post race remedy. 

After the pool, I still had to go to church, and there was allegedly a 5pm mass down the road.  The plan was to go there, and come back to the hotel, at which time Joe would be there and we could go to Arbor Brewing.  Well, there was no 5:00, and US23 was right there in sight.  I called Mike to see if he could go online and find something closer, but he didn't answer, so I took the ramp and headed back to Flint where I knew there was a 7:00 mass waiting.  I wanted to see Joe, but being a church music minister by trade, I knew he'd understand.  Apparently they had a good time at Arbor and Blue Tractor.  I'm sorry I missed it.


The effects of the half marathon did not get to me as much this time.  I was still energetic and alive afterward.  I didn't feel broken or even overly exhausted (which just tells me I didn't leave enough out there on the course).  The Adidas were really good for me and I had no foot problems the entire way.  The hydration plan worked really well too, and I probably could have went a good deal further.  I did have to do a little stretching after, but I didn't feel like my muscles would pull at any time or get any cramps like the Martian.  In all honesty, it just wasn't all that bad.  Given the choice, I would have ran one again rather than going to work yesterday (it's now Tuesday), and work isn't even that bad.

That Swartz Creek race after the long run the night before and this race just have me feeling invincible.  I think I could actually do a marathon in the future, now.  A few more of these and it will really be mentally in reach for me.  I won't this year, as I promised my fiancee I would wait until next year and a few more pounds off before I do.  Before, though I was still uncertain about even another half, and now I am itching for another one.

On the drive home, I looked at the sunshine and blue skies as I drove down Court St.  Having a mental lapse, and forgetting what I had just done for a split second, I actually thought to myself "man, it would be a nice day for a run."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Locations of visitors to this page