Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Bronx Tale

I'm starting to get jaded- this getting up at 4:30 am to run a 1/2 marathon in the city doesn't feel as bold and exciting as it used to. Maybe I don't have the same spark for it as before because I'm not as fast as I was last year. I'm like a speed junkie (running speed, that is!) who's suffering from withdrawal symptoms, and willing to take on any race to get my fix. So off to the Bronx I went. I had my main goal, which was to beat my 1/2 marathon time from England last month, 1:38:58. That should have been an easy goal since it was a pretty hilly race. Then I had about 5 more goals in descending order of difficulty.. A runner's crutch, which I've learned from Bob Glover, my all-time running mentor and Coach of GNY, the team I proudly (but infrequently) compete for. The idea is to not put all your eggs in one basket. The last goal on your list would have to be something absolutely obtainable, even in the unlikely event that a car ran over your legs during the race and you had to roll yourself over the finish line.. Like finishing the race in 4 hours, say.. So my second goal was to not let the Coach beat me.. See, he has his own weird little accounting system, and if you've ever beaten him in a race, he puts an asterisk next to your name, and it doesn't come off til he beats you in a race.. He has a lot of rules.. Like no waving to Coach Bob during a race.. He yelled at us once after a Central Park race, went on for a full page in an email rant to all the club members about how waving to Coach Bob during a race is like giving the finger to the Pope.. It changed a lot of people's racing experiences. I loved the new somberness.. But getting back to my race.. All 3,000+ of us were mushed into the starting area, listening to the final instructions from Mary Wittenberg, the very young CEO of the New York Road Runner's club. She was trying to get everyone psyched for the NY marathon in November, and people were anxious to get started with THIS race, as the sun was already starting to bring out the sweat in us. Then just before the race starts, she announces that she's going to 'hop in', so she doesn't miss the start.. How dare she be so relaxed and casual about running in a race! I have all kinds of pre-race rituals that involve mostly working myself into a frenzy of anxiety.. So this seemed quite unfair.. The race started, and I quickly found a reasonable pace that I thought I could hold for the whole way. Reasonable to me means it's too hard to talk, but I won't pass out after 13 miles. On that day, that meant a 7:35 pace. So you can imagine my horror when I heard the idle chatter of two women coming up behind me! Good grief, man, this isn't a Sunday jog in the park.. We have people working really hard here! If this pace is so easy for you, you should be hustling your little butts a little quicker! It didn't help matters that the one that was doing most of the talking sounded exactly like that cheerleader in the Sprint Mobile commercials.. I picked up the pace a little, but could still hear diarrhea mouth.. Just then a spry woman ran right up beside me. It was the CEO! She said 'Good job' to me, and I labored to get out a 'You too' in .. At least she had the decency to be breathing very heavily.. Somehow Mary and I ran together for a whole mile.. It was exciting, but stressful, because I knew she was in my age group, and at our advanced age, even with a 'slow' 7:35 pace, there was a chance for me to be in the top 3 and get a medal.. All of a sudden chatty Cathy spies Mary.. 'Hi Mary! I hear people were complaining about the cost of that Manhattan 1/2?' Not as much as you'd hear ME complaining if I had the energy to, I thought.. Mary somehow kept a little two word reply conversation going with iron lungs.. I felt really bad for her.. That's when all my fantasies about being the CEO of this running club took flight. And then all my energy drained somewhere, and all three of my rivals whizzed ahead of me, and left me with 5 miles to contend with alone.. Me and 2,500 other tired, soaked runners.. A water stop was approaching, and I saw this young female volunteer handing cups of water to passing runners.. It must have been her first time, because clearly she wasn't aware of the potential dangers of this job.. Exhausted runners, stubbornly refusing to stop and take the cup like sensible people.. Ploughing on and grabbing the cup on the run while dodging other runners.. This naive girl was smiling and talking to some runners, and not looking where she was going.. She happened to have some very Dolly Partonesque assets too, which you really couldn't miss.. And all I could think of as I grabbed my water was, 'If we collide, she will definitely be the one in trouble'.. I missed her by about an inch, and was totally exhausted in the effort of avoiding those twins.. At some point I saw my Coach.. Coaching his team from the sidelines.. I was so disappointed! How could he drop out? He's made of steel, has run marathons two weeks after major surgery.. Was supposed to 'kick my asterisk'.. This race just wasn't one for the records for either of us.. The finish line finally arrives, I sprint in with my usual valiant effort to save face (only so much making up you can do in a tenth of a mile), and finished in a disappointing 1:39:26.. I knew it was a tough day though with the heat, since not only did my coach drop out, but so did his wife.. And she is also quite a warrior.. So I held a little hope that maybe I still got an award.. I wandered over to the results list.. Found my name.. Fourth in my age.. Sigh.. I had to see who took third.. Third female in my age went to: Mary Wittenberg. She earned it, good for her. Anyone but motor-mouth. I limped into the sunset. There'll always be another race around the 'hood..

24 comments:

Jon said...

Two posts in less than a week? I am proud of you.

I am also proud of you for making 4th. I can't imagine ever attempting such a feat. You are a true warrior!

Now can I wipe your brow?

tamar said...

Jon~ Thank-you for noticing! Yeah, 2 is a lot for one week.. I was helping a friend out, she needed a running piece for a local newsletter.. Feel free to come to any of my races and wipe my brow! You'll have your work cut out for you ;-)

Jon said...

I think that is the kind of work I was made for. That and massages :P

~Deb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~Deb said...

Ah....Dolly Partonesque assets...my favorite! She's usually the one with the dark circles under her eyes...

After my tenth mile, I'm usually at the ER getting CPR from some hot nurse.

I'm totally debris blanc on this blog this morning...sorry!

tamar said...

~ deb deb! love it when you talk latin.. you deletin' posts again?? hahaha!

~Deb said...

I never delete and I do not speak Latin. That twas'French my darling. For "WHITE TRASH".... (debris blanc) Sounds like a good wine, doesn't it?

I need a drink. Let's go out Tamar! It's over 100 degrees, we can sweat like pigs in some bar somewhere. Whaddya' say? BUT---no public pools please. Thanks.

tamar said...

~deb~ where did I get Latin from? I was thinking 'hubris'.. yeah, that sounds good.. I was tellking a girl at work (regina!) about good placed to go swimming, she said she suggested this public pool to her kids, and they said, 'ew, the pee pool!' haha, they're lucky if that's all they find there.. stay cool, mojitos soon?

~Deb said...

Tamar, a good place to swim is in my pool. So---bring the mojitos and come over and take a swim with me! Just don't pee in my pool, ok? ha!!! jk!

~Deb said...

Oh, and night swimming is the best! Maybe this weekend? For real?

tamar said...

deb~ I was just thinking about you! I had a customer that was disputing a phone call on his bill, and he knew it wasn't his, because he was at the 4th of July parade, and then he went to the VFW after for some high balls! Ha ha..
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! You don't have to ask me twice to come over to your pool.. This weekend sounds great.. I make a new drink now, blood orange martinis..

Jon said...

OK, it's cooler here now, but I so want to come over to Deb's for swimming and drinking. DAMN!

~Deb said...

Jon, come on by! The water's great! And the martinis have Tamar skinny dipping! Woo hoo!!!!!!

tamar said...

~deb hey! don't spread rumors! ok, a mojito could lead to some slippers coming off.. at least I don't expose major flesh like some ex's!!

~jon no heat wave in colorado?

Jon said...

Colorado's heat wave already passed. We hit 100 a few days in a row. We have low humidity, so it wasn't too bad. We've had 2 evenings straight of a nice easy rain, but nice, comfortable, and sunny during the day.

Jon said...

Oh, and Deb, keep on telling us what Tamar is really like when she drinks. We know you wouldn't lie.

~Deb said...

When you took those slippers off, *sigh* be still my heart!

Ex's do weird things in pools, don't they?

Anonymous said...

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Jon said...

OK Deb, I need a little more detail about this.

~Deb said...

Well I can ONLY speak for my ex...which was a very ...umm... arousing adventure. I have this huge filter that pumps out a massive force of water from one end of my pool. It almost looks like a hot tub at the shallow end.

Use your imagination Jon. *think*

~Deb said...

I wasn't involved if that's what you're thinking.

Jon said...

I am speechless. Yes me.

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