Last weekend, Sunday, June 5th was a weekend full of sweat and magic. Nothing on earth is like a race weekend. Overly caffeinated, selfie loving, crazy sock wearing people of all ages gather happily in a giant wardrobe malfunction of what can only be explained away as the need to rise at an ungodly hour only to huddle together behind a timed start line. That said, I love these people, and I’ll gladly take them over an out of control crowd who can’t keep hold of their temper, liquor, or house keys.
I’ll admit it, I’m the last person who likes to wake up early any day of the week, but sometimes you just have to man up, take your gummy vitamins, put your shirt on right side out and stumble out the door in the morning with the rest. This particular morning J, F and I successfully made it into the Land Rover and onto the road. After silently determining that the road under construction was not jumpable, even with Ride of the Valkyries projected outward on the sound system, we opted for the less fun yet fairly saner roundabout. Metal thunkin’ and base bumpin’ we pull up to the University of Houston – Clear Lake, only the road looked more like a 7-11 parking lot. Trying to find a stylish, economic, used battle tank has been my dream for some time now. Who wouldn’t find it satisfying to give a neighborly “elbow” in a (pink) tank to others whose eyes are blatantly on Facebook while happily flying at warp speed, or just to make a little headway in a stopped up road? Ah well, since my obsessive scanning of Auto Trader has yet to reveal that magic gem and what could be one of Godzilla’s rollerblades, we resigned ourselves to a slow, nerve rattling, pre-race meander.
After crossing a lake, three sand dunes, a heard of sluggish deer and a bench taken out by a roving tree limb, we made it into the parking lot, tires squealing like an angry mongoose. Cresting sideways into a parking space, we hopped out and completed our pre-race warm up by sprinting PreFontaine style through the lot and around the port-a-pottys, until we found a nice solid starting area 100 feet behind the last person in line, with 30 seconds to spare. Unbeknownst to many, this strategic starting point proved to be a heavenly panacea for us to stretch and take unlimited selfies without the hassle of an actual race about to happen.
Once the race began, we put on our serious game faces and started our watches, skillfully maneuvering like ninjas with katana blades through the crowd. Five minutes into the run we split up, F and J picking up speed thanks to the shorter 5 k distance and the Uranium Ore they sprinkled on their Cliff Bars for breakfast. Their Mizunos and Brooks glowing with subhuman speed and the pesky side effect of radiation, they sped off down the street and to the eventual left hand turn that would lead them back to the finish line, the photographers, and most importantly, where the food is.
I continued on like a lost kid at the mall, passing up hundreds of runners and all the while skillfully missing the photographers poised precariously on the sides of the road, ready to capture the “Ohhh guurll I’ma dieee” and similar but more stern “resting &*%$# face” for future generations of web surfers to enjoy. I love those photos. The course was flat and fast, with plenty of room for the crowd to maneuver.
Three miles down and heading back, a group of women in sparkly skirts began insanely jumping in the air together about 2oo yards in front of me. That could only mean one thing – photographer spotted! The stranger next to me laughed at their antics, and I suggested to him that we should do the very same thing. Being a runner, and therefore naturally amazing, he agreed wholeheartedly. For the next 100 feet we worked with the photographer in what was the strangest photo shoot ever. When the photographer gave us the go ahead, we leapt upward like magical unicorns on a rainbow over a princess castle in the sparkling sunrise, my pink socks and his manly grace ripping a wormhole in the time space continuum. It was awesome.
I continued on after the photo shoot, the bright blip in my otherwise sweaty struggle falling behind me like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs as I ran on, hair completely doused with sweat and breathing ragged. I try not to check my watch, purple and beautiful and slip sliding over my skinny wrist. I love my Garmin, it’s easy on the eyes but when I glance down and see that what I thought was a mile is really .62 miles, I get sad. Really sad. Then I feel slow. Then I want to stop. Wah wahhhh. Not to mention that not looking teaches me the mysterious concepts of patience and faith. Nothing makes me happier than when that mistress of distance beeps and buzzes another mile down.
Closing in on that last mile, I willed myself to keep an okay pace. Returning to any type of distance after having to take time off for shin splints was not as scary as I’d thought, even though I could definitely feel that the past few weeks of lazy Summer days spent laying with a book on the porch had taken its’ toll. Smiling as I heard F & J waiting at the sideline and cheering, I passed up two more runners at the finish, got my medal, a cup of Gatorade, sunk to a Neanderthal like crouch on the pavement, downed the Gatorade in a few messy gulps, and stood up to face the day with my friends. Congratulations, it’s now 9am.
We left the area a happy, stinky, messy haired bunch and slid into the heavenly scented road chariot to head back to F’s for some much needed showers, brunch and little M&M* followed by lots of laughs at a certain gas station scene. If you haven’t seen it, go YouTube it, ASAP. What a great start to the day and a perfect Sunday Runday. Cheers!
*M&M is similar to R&R but with Mimosas and Magic Mike pt. II.