Thursday, January 13, 2011

Binge Life (Part 3)

Despite being exhausted, we started getting nervous. It was really happening. We had to run 13.1 miles the next day. We decided to go eat a proper meal, and then go back to our hotel and rest. We went and had Japanese food. Healthy. We were walking back to our hotel, shopping here and there, when we decided we were still hungry. So we had Italian. Carb-loading, I guess. Then we stopped for gelato. Unnecessary. Then we had Philly cheesesteaks. Totally nuts. We were so nervous about running the next day, and about what we had done the night before, that now we were binge eating to calm ourselves. By the time we reached our hotel, we all felt sick. We decided to go to bed early to finally get some rest. It was turning into a disaster weekend. Old habits die hard. But then...

Boom. Boom. Boom. We were staying in the hotel that the marathon had suggested. Boom. Boom. Boom. What the hell was that? In our pajama’s we walked all over ourhallway, but we heard nothing. But once we were back in our room. Boom. Boom. Boom. Our room was right above the ballroom which had a wedding going on. That was the base from the deejay’s music at the reception. We wanted to switch rooms, but there were nomore rooms available. The hotel was booked between this wedding and all the people running the marathon. After everything else, now no sleep! This is what you get for revenge running a marathon.

Around 5 AM, we were awoken by our wake up call, and none of us moved. We all felt dead. But we eventually got out of bed, laced up our sneakers, and headed out to the starting line. We hoped our debauchery all weekend hadn’t destroyed all the weeks of work we’d put in. They shot the gun and everyone started running. We knew we wouldn’t run the whole thing together, but wanted to run some of it with each other. We had matching t-shirts to look for each other. They said, “Might Die!”

It’s going to sound strange, but the first few miles were a blur. There were so many spectators. People cheering all of the runners on. Music. It was really nice. Before I knew it, I was at mile-8. I felt great, like I could run forever. But then I hit mile-10, and I started having problems. I had hit THE WALL.

I had heard about THE WALL, but had never experienced it, but I guess with everything I had done the last 48-hours I should have been surprised I hadn’t hit it sooner. THE WALL is when your body starts to experience extreme fatigue. It has something to do with your body not being able to break down carbohydrates into fuel fast enough. All of a sudden, I wanted to collapse and my body wanted to stop. But because I didn’t want to give up, instead of stopping, I started crying.

I was passing mile-10, with only 3 miles left, crying while wearing a shirt that said, “Might Die!” I thought about smug runners everywhere and cursed them. Why did I have to run my mouth off about being a runner? I cursed myself. Why did I ever do this? What was I thinking? All the doubts. All the reasons to quit.

I was cursing and running and crying, when I finally just stopped running. I stopped running and kept crying. Standing and crying. I felt so alone. But then in an instant, I was surrounded by runners. All of these hot, male runners surrounded me and encouraged me to keep going. Was this a mirage? Was I having some weird out-of-body running experience? I was surrounded by athletic men telling me to keep going. Saying that it was going to be all right. That I could do it. They knew I was hitting THE WALL, and they were pushing me through it. This was the “high!” This was what all of those weeks of training and pain were all about!

So I started running again. At first slow, but then with more speed. Mile-11. Mile-12. As I was coming up on the last mile, I ran into Time of Our Lives and BFF. We ran the last mile together. I told them about hitting the wall and meeting the hot guys. They told me about stopping at 10 porta-potty’s from being sick from everything we ate the night before. I never ran into my Ex again. He was probably training for his next race, but who cares because now I was an athlete. I actually loved running. And after we crossed the finish line, and got our complimentary massages, and made our way back to the hotel, we made a pact. Never to do that again.

And then the next day we signed up for a triathlon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Binge Life (Part 2)

We were still motivated after our first run, so each run that week got slightly better. The weeks started passing, and it was getting easier. But then we had to start doing long runs. In other words, more than 4 miles, and we all struggled. We didn’t want to give up, so we needed to make some changes.

We cleaned up our diets. We stopped boozing every night. Time of Our Lives stopped smoking. BFF took care of her ankle. I gave up burritos. It was hard work. Revenge running a half marathon sounds great at first, but then when you actually have to do it, it sorta sucks. I gutted out each of the runs, but when I met my friends to do our group run, I was the only one left in the group.

I needed to do this for myself and maybe by myself. It’s not as fun running by yourself. At least for me it wasn’t, but on the bright side, I was running longer runs, so at least I’d finally experience that “runner’s high” that Smug Runners/Happy

Couple had talked about. I ran 7-mile, 8-mile, and even 9-mile runs, and there was no high to be found. Nothing. I did sprints to increase my time. I ran longer distances than I was supposed to, but still no high. No nothing. I’d gotten higher by just walking around the village from inhaling second hand pot than from running 10-miles! I still couldn’t eat whatever I wanted. And with no end in sight, I realized running really wasn’t what it’s cracked up to be. WTF?
I had one of my longest and last runs in the park and who meets me there out of nowhere, but Time of Our Lives. She’d been majorly missing in action, but had been keeping up with the running despite being out of touch. She brought BFF who had a slower pace because of the bum ankle, but was able to run the entire course without stopping. We were in pretty good shape for the race the next week. I couldn’t believe it was finally going to happen.

The race was in Philly. We did a road trip down on Friday, thinking we’d hang out and relax until Sunday. But then while driving through Pennsylvania, we passed a casino

and decided to stop in. Smoking, drinking and gambling all night really isn’t a great way to prepare for a half marathon. We were only going to stay an hour, but we were winning money, and when you’re on a roll...

At 3 in the morning, I was coughing from inhaling tons of smoke, Time of Our Lives was almost broke, and BFF was limping from standing all night. We drove the rest of the way to our hotel, and got there while the sun was rising. But there was hope because we still had all day Saturday to relax.

We took showers and quick naps, and then went to the marathon check-in center to get our numbers and register for the race the next day. Starving from being up all night, and hung over, we were eating huge Philly pretzels while checking in. Who do we see, but Smug Runners/Happy Couple. They were checking in too. They looked well-rested. Tan. Lean. We were some sort of unkempt motley crew of degenerate gamblers, smokers, and gigantic pretzel eaters. We all said hello and talked about the race the next day, but when we left, I felt worse than before. Why is it that some people always have it together and others...?


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Binge Life (Part 1)

Running. I used to think of running in terms of running away from something. Commitment. Responsibility. A mugging. Never as something anyone would do voluntarily. Why would anyone ever run when they could walk, drive, or stand still? It makes no sense. But then I ran into my Ex, and he was with his fiancĂ©e. That’s another type of running - "running into" - that sucks. He couldn’t stop talking about running. Running, running, running. He went on and on about how they - the happy couple - were training for a marathon.

My Ex was annoying before, but now he had become a smug runner. He was marrying a smug runner. You know the type. Runners that casually say they’re going for a 10-mile jog at 5 AM, as though it’s a trip around the corner. They always eat whatever they want, while forever fitting into a size 2. Athletic by nature, they effortlessly and easily run and barely break a sweat. Damn their good genes.

My Ex had mastered soccer, baseball, downhill skiing, volleyball, and now he ran marathons. Listening to him talk about running was boring and annoying, but it lit something inside of me. A fire. A passion. A need to not be one-upped, while I was standing on the street with no make-up on, eating a bagel, having just rolled out of bed around 2. It was the day I became a runner. I didn’t run that day, but my mouth sure did.

Running is a solitary sport. You don’t need much except for a pair of sneakers and some road. Unless you’re me. If you’re me, you need the best running sneakers, the perfect sports bra and shorts, and your best friends. There was no way I was going to train and run a half marathon by myself. Did I mention I told the Smug Runners/Happy Couple that I was a runner as well, and that I was going to be running a half marathon in a few months? As it turned out, so were they. The next thing I knew, I was bullshitting that I was going to be running the same one they were running. I also lied about my mile time, and that I’d ran a bunch of half marathons before this one, you know, as jelly was dripping out of my bagel. Sometimes, I don’t even know why I talk.

I conference called my BFF (Best Friend Forever) and Time Of Our Lives (She is always looking to have the time of her life). These are my two friends who are ready to get involved in any hairbrained scheme I come up with. The three of us are

cut from the same cloth. All or nothing. Live or die. In or out.

Extreme, crazy, and ready for anything, when I told them what happened they were on board right away. We needed to train and compete in a half marathon in a matter of months. None of us had been running at all. We had all been doing the opposite. Binge drinking, binge eating, binge sleeping, binge binging. We’d been having a binge life in every type of sloth-filled way. Now we were about to start binging on being healthy. The most exercise I’d been doing was a yoga class that let you lay down for half the class. BFF had a bum ankle. And Time of Our Lives smoked two packs a day.

I found some running program on the internet, so I had our running schedule for the next 12-weeks. We’d run once a week together and do the other runs on our own. We met in Manhattan in Central Park at the Reservoir for our first run. It’s about 2 miles around. After the first 2 minutes, I was out of breath, BFF was limping, and Time of Our Lives thought we should take a break. It was cold. We were all hung over from the night before. This was not how we thought the first day would go. This was supposed to be the first run of the rest of our lives. Instead we all left each other discussing ways we could ice our bodies.