(#21) Arroyo Creek Half Marathon (June 24, 2012) – Part 2

 Picking up from yesterday -

(Sort of. Really, moving on from yesterday, ’cause I just talked about Michael Jackson. Come on, though. It was a race on June 24th. How does he not come up, right?)

While we’re talking about the obligatory stuff that I bring up during half marathons around this time, skip the next two paragraphs to not read about improv. I spent about 5 or 6 miles of this race talking to Josh. (Yes, my friend from the Grand Canyon for anyone who reads this blog.)

He called me around mile 4. We’d been playing phone tag for a while, so I didn’t want to wait another second to talk to him. After all, among other things, we had to discuss improv at length. (You thought you were gonna get a post away from it, didn’t you? You will. Probably. Soon enough-ish.)

Josh is an excellent listener. We tried to pinpoint, together, exactly where improv all went wrong. What a great friend, right – to hang on every detail, and try for well over an hour to figure things out with me about a class he wasn’t even in. He’s a good guy.

Okay, so I’m toward the back of the pack. We looped around in a couple of places. On almost every loop I saw this nice man who seemed happy to be there, happy to be alive, just generally happy. He was always smiling and making little comments about the beautiful morning, and how great it was to be out. That was enjoyable.

There was this woman at a somewhat early turnaround who looked at me as we passed each other and said cheerily, “I’m trying to catch you.” I smiled back and said, “It shouldn’t be too hard.” Then, obviously, my goal of the race became to not let her catch me. Why was she out for me, specifically? Maybe she wasn’t. Maybe she didn’t think about it, and just said something to the first person she saw. But if someone wanted a competition, I wasn’t about to lose.

She never did catch me. Because she never did finish! Way later in the race as I was at a turnaround, the volunteers told me I was last. “Oh no, no, no. I can’t be last. I talked to a woman behind me at a different turnaround.” “Yeah, she quit – well, actually, she didn’t quit. She switched to a shorter distance.” “Okay, so what you’re saying is she quit?” “Well, she didn’t quit, per se.” “Was she injured?” “No.” “Okay, so she quit.” Then we all laughed at my hilarious bluntness and my inflections. Ha, ha, ha.

Really, good for her that she finished a distance. But now I was now last. Drats. I could see people in front of me. I could’ve probably caught people if I’d started running. I was too tired.

I’ve been trying to be more in the mindset of running my own races, and not caring too terribly much if I come in last. I’m there for my own goals of the week, not to try to overtake these other people. I have a super competitive nature, so it doesn’t always work out that way, but I was beyond tired enough at that point that I could refuse to care.

This race was amazing to even the slowest half marathoners. When I got to the next water stop, a smiling person had a cup filled and waiting for me, even though he’d put the station away.

And the people at one of the last water stops on the course were just as excitable as they were when I’d seen them as one of the first water stops. It was a party there for every single runner (even the last one). They cheered, and waved props around. It were pretty much the coolest, most energetic and fun stop I’ve seen maybe even in any of my races so far.

It wasn’t just the water stop people who were cool in this race. Everybody was. The guy on the bike, and the medics riding in the golf cart. Everyone who was around was always flashing smiles and making little conversations, as they started on their next round of checking on people.

When I got to the finish, the race director announced my name with pride, and happily cheered for me. Other runners were there still cheering as well. I felt so loved even as the last runner. They even had the free massage booth still open! How awesome, right? I got an excellent massage, made my way back home, and immediately crawled into bed. Ah, precious, precious sleep.

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