Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow That Beard! (River Bank Run Pt. 2)

After crawling out of the man made ditch I made in the right side of the super soft mattress, waking up to both the alarm and the Grand Rapids buses that make a "meep meep" sound like the Muppet barbershop quartet covering Nirvana, I started getting myself ready for the long run ahead.  I carted all my stuff back to the car so my lady didn't have to cart my stuff too, because she was probably going to have to be out of the there before I got back.  Making a last minute reach into my bag for something, I ended up cutting my finger nice and open on my razor.  I tried to stop it as much as possible, but I needed to get a band-aid, which forced me to wake up my poor wife hours before she had to, because there are magic wormholes in ladies' purses and I would never find them myself.

With that crisis averted, I went downstairs to eat some free hotel breakfast, and watched some of the 5Kers cruise on by us.  Then I hopped up in the elevator to make a quick trip back to the room.  I decided to take my camera.  I shared the elevator with a big group of ladies who introduced themselves.  The only name I remembered was Lisa, but that's because her name was printed twice on her shirt.  That helps.

What didn't help was all the bladder nerves I was getting for this one.  I guess there's a first time for everything.  Luckily I got ahold of myself and started walking to the corral.  As soon as I walk in and take my spot between the 10 and 10:30 pacers, I hear my name, and wondered who the heck was calling me, and it was Lisa's group again.  We wished each other good luck, and before I knew it, we were off.

Making Way to the Corral
One thing I noticed immediately was the amount of support out on the roads for us.  In a way it was almost overstimulating getting that rush right off the bat, and everywhere you looked for that first stretch was a sign of inspiration.

Right off the bat, you want to set a goal.  I like to set goals based off someone I see in front of me keeping a good pace.  Some people like to pick people with inspirational shirts or a shirt of a race they like.  Some people like to choose a person with an attractive posterior.  My selection process is a little bit weirder, and this time I chose to keep up with this dude with a sweet beard.  I just figured it would get sweaty and scratchy and he would slow down.  Either that, or he would get Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer urges and "run off into the hills...or something."  Either way, I figured I could keep up with him.
That's right Keyrock, I'm coming for you!
After running away from the city, we ducked onto a trail, where I was bored to tears because everything looked the same for MILES!
Yay, this for 8 miles.  "I'm having a good time....not"
I'm pretty sure this was one of the most monotonous riverside runs I've ever had.  I know people say that this is a great course, but after all that excitement off the get-go, this lull killed me.  There's very little variation or color in the vegetation, little to no animals, and the river is so dead slow here it could be mistaken for a giant mud puddle.  Sure there were spurts of spectators rooting us on here and there along this stretch, but it was just enough to keep me awake.

When I woke up, I was at the halfway point...

I had held off using the reserves for long enough.  It was time to start moving faster.  I started to really move, and I felt like I could do so all day.  Watch out beard man, I'm coming for you...

Beard guy still at the left of frame.
I think it was about mile 9 that we started to climb a little bit, and there was actually a nice view off to the left...
...and my bearded friend (I'm a stalker)
About mile 10 or so we took a left by a DJ booth playing Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right" and, feeling a sudden tiredness, I called upon the ghost of MCA for strength, and he obliged by carrying me really well for another 2 miles.  

Other than a small loss of strength two miles back, I was starting to pick up speed and really looking forward to finishing off strong.  Around the time we ran into the Coke bottling place I was good too, but shortly after everything stopped for me.  The 12.5-13.5 mile stretch, for some reason, was the hardest mile I've ever ran in my life.  I just lost it.  I didn't lose it just in my speed, either.  I've thought I hit walls before.  I hadn't.  This was a wall.  I wasn't willing out more than a step ahead, and I was done.  I could have easily sat right there and not moved until someone came to check on me, hopefully one of the Coke workers who randomly had a Mello Yello in his or her hands.
Those are bigger than 12oz, I don't care what the paint job says
There was no joking with myself to pull me out.  There was no picturing the wall scene in "Run Fatboy Run."  I wasn't even thinking to myself "why the hell do I do this crap?"  I was still technically running, but I probably could have walked that mile faster.  Just that stretch took me almost 12 minutes.  I wasn't even mentally tough enough to pull myself out of the rut.  I wasn't even really thinking.  If I were, I would have wondered why I was dying there when I've done the half marathon distances before.  I was used to this...what the hell?

I can't even say I know what happened.  In the end it just went away.  My strength returned, and my brain started working again, and oooh look there's a stone dragon...
Don't remember this type from "How to Train Your Dragon"
There were also Swan Boats...wait a minute...this isn't Boston Common...

"Stop lookin' at me, Swan"
After coming out from under a bridge I could start to see and feel the end of this thing...
Come toward the light
Before I knew it we were at the end...
1/2 mile to go...
I saw my girl at the side of the road, and she got a picture of me as I was running away...

I reconnected with the beard guy, and ended up finishing directly behind him (and the finishing video shows it too!).  I'm thinking about putting an ad on Craigslist to find him so we can be running buddies, and maybe I'll grow a mustache again and that would be my thing when we start the pop duo (I'm thinking Hall & Oates meets Wham!).  It would be epic. 

As soon as I stopped running the calves started to bunch up, so I got my medal quick and kept moving until I back-tracked to find my wife sitting on a bench.  I sat on the ground, stretched, and gathered myself while she took a photo of me looking disgusting...
I don't wanna move...
We went out to the car, and I changed, and we walked to the HopCat to get some food.  I didn't drink a lot while I was there, but their house DIPA called Raging Centaur was really good.  Maybe it was the run, but this was one of the most drinkable DIPAs I've ever had.  I was surprised.  Most breweries can't do one of these worth a crap and they just do them to say they have and to flash some high ABV%.  
Flashing some medal, refusing to put the beer down for the photo
The HopCat's menu made me laugh twice, and our server was really nice to us..
Laugh #1
Laugh #2
I went with the HopCat Grandwich, which was the best sloppy joe I've ever had in my life (sure, post race hunger talking, but it was good) with the jalapenos, crack fries, and melted cheese on top.  

I love you, Joe...
 I also heard very good things about the veggie wrap from across the table...

I had bites of that too, it was tasty

After the food, we were ready to head home and drove back so we could see our dog child, who we left with my dogbaby's momma's momma, and we took her out to dinner for watching our dog/Mother's Day.


  1. Yea Congrats buddy, you are AWESOME and you KILLED it! Great job, and the beard guy was pretty cool...the food did look tasty! I have dog babies too! I love their little fur faces!

  2. I love that you chased the bearded guy. Hilarious! Good job fighting through the rough spots, especially after attempting to tackle that burger the night before!


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