Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dolphin Challenge, Part 1

Towne Bank 8K, 3/20, Virginia Beach, VA
Net time: 51:50

The alarm went off at 6am, much earlier than a vacation alarm ought to.  The race started at 8am; we'd planned to meet Pocket and her friend K at 7:30am.  We took advantage of the early start to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic from our room, a sight I’ve rarely witnessed over the water, never mind take the time to enjoy when I have to be up so early. 

We split homemade egg and bagel sandwiches from the day before, frozen from the hard-working mini-fridge.  I’m not used to eating so soon after waking up; usually I don’t eat for an hour or two after waking up and finishing my coffee.  We headed out into the chill morning air with the 20,000 other runners towards Neptune to meet up with our friends, jogging on the way to stay warm.  A few minutes of searching through the crowd and I spoted Pocket and K.  We paused for photo op, and moved to the back of the pack at the start line, almost 4 blocks from the actual starting line.

It took us ten minutes to cross the starting line with all the people running.  I looked around at the folks in costumes, kilts, wigs, funny hats, crazy makeup.  I love the spirit these people bring to a race- makes it feel like a party.  I wish I had the balls or patience to run in a crazy getup.  Maybe someday I’ll go all out for a 5k.  When I helped my dad by working an October Fest 12k, one of the entrants ran the whole thing in lederhosen and a purple felt fedora with a feather! Even more impressive are parents running with child-filled strollers. 

Technically we were not allowed to run with iPods, dogs, or strollers, but obviously people were ignoring those rules.  While I’m always impressed at someone’s performance with the extra burden of a child and stroller, I wish more people had followed the guidelines.  With 20thousand people these things become a danger to others.  iPods make it impossible to hear a runner coming up behind you with an “on your right,” or “excuse me.”  Even the most well trained dogs can act out in a large crowd, or a spectator’s dog can go bananas at the site of a dog in the race, causing an upset to runners.  Strollers become battering rams.  With crowds this big, passing is difficult enough with just one’s own body.  Passing with the stroller-equivalent of a tank is nigh impossible.  We ran alongside a man on the boardwalk who spent his whole run yelling at people in front of him to make way.  Wouldn’t it be more fun to let your child stand on the sidelines with other family or friends than having them hear you yell at strangers? 

My biggest challenge of this 8k (4.9 miles for those of you not versed in computing, like me,) was staying together with Pocket and My Runner.  We spend the ENTIRE race weaving in and out of people.  My Runner was always in front of us, which  alternately motivated and infuriated me.  In any case, it kept us running and kept us challenged.  It gave Pocket and I a chance to catch up on each other's lives now that she lives three states away.  

The race started cool but weather warmed up quickly.  I took off my “sleeves” and rolled up the sleeves to my long-sleeved under shirt pretty quickly.  By the time we were on the south end of the “boardwalk” (made from cement… non-traditional but dualy functional- take it up with the Army Corps of Engineers, I suppose) it was well in to the 60’s and sunny. 

It was around this time I needed a little “inspiration.”  When running is hard, or I need a smile, or I’m just feeling frisky, I’ll grab a handful of My Runner’s well-developed runner’s butt.  Sorry if that’s TMI, but seriously, if you felt that ass you’d be willing to run for  miles too, whether it was to emulate it or to tap it.  Seriously.  It’s that good.

Ok, I’ll get back to the narrative.  I needed inspiration, so I went to get me some.  Unfortunately, My Runner sped up just as I grabbed my “piece” and this poor girl he had been passing got a full body check from yours truly.  Now, in hockey terms this was no big deal.  I probably wouldn’t even apologize for the minor infraction in the course of a normal game.  But with running, well, it's not a contact sport.  I expressed my apologies pretty profusely, but I don't think she was impressed.  I turned back to Pocket for corroboration, then realized I just ran over this chick in an attempt to grab ass.  I was the dick in this scenario, no getting around that.  Awwwww….  Still, inspiration was given, and that girl now had a story to tell.

We swerved from the boardwalk back onto Atlantic Ave. to run past the Start line.  Around that time I *thought* we were done, I started pulling more gas from the tank.  Pocket and I talked a little about that.  I love the end of a race, where you know how much is left and you can empty your tank and make a strong finish.  Well, turns out one should study the course in order to use this functionality (apparently it's a figure 8).  There were more miles left than I had anticipated when I was ready to “empty the tank.” 

We took one last turn onto the “boardwalk” for the finish.  K was waiting for us on the curve, camera in hand.  This was the first time I’d had a “fan,” and I was WAY more excited than I ever thought I would be.  Honestly she was out there for Pocket, the promise of sharing Pocket's free beers (she's not much of a drinker, like My Runner and I), and because it was convenient (a measly 8 blocks from her current residence).  I mean, she seemed genuinely excited to see us round the corner, but I wouldn’t expect someone to be out there if it weren’t for the same kind of circumstances.  Still, it felt AWESOME to see her.  We rounded the curve, headed into the sunlight, and were greeted with the awesome Neptune: Ward of the Finish Line.

Heading towards Neptune with Pocket and My Runner and almost 20thousand others, I felt giddy.  I started cheering us all on, "Woooo"-ing at full voice.  Here we all were, on the beautiful beach, spending time together, being active, and participating in an event with tens of thousands of people.  That's not nothing.  We crossed a pre-finish line; I realized this was so our names would come up on the screen from our “D-Tags.”  The MC announced the names of the finishers, which was pretty killer.  My Runner’s name was announced, my name was (mispro)nounced, and Pocket’s name was announced.  We all crossed the finish together, feeling fine and ready to take in the beer and the sun.

The race organizers had set up a long corral, allowing finishers to walk after their run, pickup our finishers medal, t-shirt, food, water, and any other swag they were handing out, before finally turning into the beer tent area, serving exclusively Yeungling beer.  We grabbed some beers, and Pocket and I went off in search of K.  Once we were all found, we kicked off our shoes and relaxed in the sand, toasting our wonderful day.

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  • At 11:04 AM , Blogger Heather said...

    Yay, Leah! Proud of you. Even if I can't be at the race, know that you have a fan, every time you run.

  • At 5:17 PM , Blogger Suz said...

    what a GREAT recap with photos and all. it truly brought it all back. thanks!


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