Nothing Special, Really

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A couple of years ago, I tried training for the Rock & Roll Marathon in Tempe. For many years now, I've always claimed "I once trained for a half marathon" like it was some kind of accomplishment when really, a more accurate phrase would have been "I ran every now & then with a glimmer of hope that I would magically get in shape for a half marathon yet not have to give up my fast food diet". In the early phases, I stuck to my training regiment for the most part, but as the sun got hotter & the lengths, it became easier to find excuses to give up on my daily running.

If anyone were to also point out the coincidence between the time when my runs became less frequent & the time when I found out that a girl that I was persuing, who was a frequent half-marathon runner herself, made clear her affection for me was much more platonic than mine was for her, you would be correct in assuming that those two were probably somehow linked, even if I wasn't admitting it back then.

Anyways, let's get back to paragraphs that aren't also sentences. Back then, the furthest I ever ran consecutively was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 miles. At the time, I figured it was probably about 3.2, but I don't know how accurate that was since my course was a) a neighborhood block that Google Maps measured at 2.0 miles, but was probably less considering the circumference of the sidewalk was probably less than that of the streets and b) the park that I continued my run at was measured at .4 miles by driving around in my Kia and using it's odometer. So, in hindsight, a distance of 3.0 miles is probably pretty generous.

On Sunday, I easily slaughtered my distance record.

Wac has been getting very involved in distance running, to the extent that not only is she competing in the Vancouver half-marathon in May, but is also following a weekly workout schedule that involves, among other activities, yoga, boxing, and uphill runs. She has already competed in three runs to date; a 4 mile run at the Redhook Brewery in Sept, the Jingle Bell Dash through downtown Seattle in December, and a Valentine's Run in (you guessed it) February. So when she asked if I would do the St Patty's Day run with her, did I really have any grounds to reply "No"?

I've tried to stick to some kind of workout routine, but it's been difficult, even being diagnosed with The 'Betes. But after dropping 20-something pounds since diagnosis, I've found it's been easier to run and have slowly started getting back into it. The Thursday before the race, I was up to 2.9 miles on the treadmill, including some intervals where I was running at a 6.0-6.5 pace instead of my normal 4.8, and even throwing some incline in there as well (it's amazing how pumped up you get listening to Muse on the treadmill).

The day of the race, I joined over 15,000 people to run from Seattle Center down Highway 99, through the Battery Tunnel, down the Viaduct, around the corner, through the woods, and into the Qwest field courtyard. 3.58 miles total. Like most everyone else, I represented my non-Irish heritage by wearing my green Quiksilver jacket (a last minute addition as it was fucking cold out) and a super-smooth green headband.

The race got underway at about 9:15am, and for the first mile or so, it was a breeze. I had to stop briefly because my right shoe was a little bit too tight, and I could feel the circulation getting cut off. I knew I was probably going to have to take a breather at some point, I just didn't want it to be this early. But it had to be done otherwise I'm finishing the race with a dead foot.

I didn't have to stop until I hit about the 1.75 mile mark. The pains in my side were too much to bear. I've become pretty good at working out pains through controlled breathing but it just wasn't happening this time. I walked for about 3 minutes then picked up the pace again, passing the 2 mile marker, when I had to take another breather.

I was furious with myself. I was OK with stopping once, but I really didn't want to stop again. I felt like I was dropping back into marathon training mode, where I would ease up at the slightest bit of resistance, mental or physical. I felt myself wanting to quit. Then, I found my motivation. If I could have recorded my thoughts at the time, it would have sounded like this:

"I'm not quitting. I'm not going to be like those fat people walking in front of me anymore. It's that kind of attitude that got me here in the first place, got me stuck with this Diabetes thing. If I want to beat this Diabetes, I have to keep going. If I'm tired, If I'm sore, fuck it. I'm not stopping."

And from that point forward, I kept running, all the way to the finish line. 3.58 miles in just about 42 minutes. For what it's worth, I finished the 2.9 miles on Thursday in 45 minutes.


After the race, we stopped for a bathroom break (note to self: having orange juice for breakfast before the race = bad idea), grabbed some potato chips and some water,and wandered around the booths they had setup, including one for the Detlef Schrempf Foundation, one of the sponsors of the race, which was being manned none other than the man himself, Detlef. Homeboy was a baller back in the day, but he was still humble enough to not only work the booth for his own foundation, but was incredibly gracious to anyone who came up that day. At about 10:20, we walked back to hop on the shuttle back to Seattle Center.

About 11:45 we got home. It took us almost an hour & a half to get back to our apartment exactly 3.58 miles away. For some unexplainable reason, the shuttle service was set up so that:

1. There were no signs to mark where the pickup spot was

2. The shuttle service consisted of a total of TWO school buses

3. The bus drivers had no idea where to go.

It wasn't until sometime after 11am that we finally found a school bus, marked with a little green piece of paper, stopping on the corner opposite where we were standing. Others were practically risking their lives to get on this school bus, running through the intersection to get there. We took out time, and it almost cost us as the bus filled up, but the driver probably risked her job by letting us stand in the aisleway, and for that I am so grateful for. I probably would have hijacked someone's car if I missed that bus. It was almost enough to ruin the day for us but we recovered.


One last story from the race. As we were wandering around, looking for the shuttle, we came across who I think was the last finisher of the race. She had a yellow tag on, representing that she was in the walkuntimed run group. I didn't see anyone else behind her. She completely decked out in St Patty's gear, beads, shamrocks, the whole nine yards - she looked like one of those 40 year olds who hasn't quite realized that she's too old for Mardi Gras anymore. She was exasperated and asked out loud "Is this the finish line"? A couple people, including myself, explained it was around the corner then around again. She whined and continued her limp around the finish line. I glanced down to see the cause of her limp.

Lime green high-heeled hooker boots.

Seriously? A 3.58 mile walk down city streets & freeways in high heels? Of all the times I didn't have a camera but wished I did, this has to be in the top 5. If I wasn't so pissed off from wandering around aimlessly looking for the shuttle, I probably wouldn't have been able to control my laughter. It might make me sound like an asshole, but I do find some satisfaction in knowing that, for all the stupid things I do in life, that I'm not as stupid as that lady.


  • Matt, did I mention I'm in training for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona

    Yesterday, I ran from just outside the Microchip building all the way to my car. It was a good 1/32 of a mile but I figure if I can double that every day between now and January 2009, I'll be good to go.

    Seriously, congrats on your progress.

    By Anonymous Mark, At March 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM  

  • lol @ mark's comment.

    Hey man, I can only say this to you. GOOD JOB!!! Seriously, the key is that you completed and found second wind. I actually hope you keep this up. Maybe next time, you'll be running about the 10k you completed. Instead of aiming high like the half all of a sudden, a gradual step is key.

    Congrats again man.

    By Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage, At March 19, 2008 at 1:17 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home