As I am waiting for my half-marathon to start, I am reminded that two things always annoy me at races. First, “That Guy” is always there. That Guy wears nothing but a super skimpy speedo or some other ridiculously tiny peace of race gear. Today’s version of That Guy is wearing super short, baby-blue print shorts that look like they may be tiny pajammy-shorts. That Guy’s girlfriend/wife/friend is wearing a matching outfit. Irritating. As usual, That Guy needs to strip down and make a giant production of rubbing suntan lotion all over. Of course, this is done in a very conspicuous area in the middle of everyone. He also has to yell at someone way off in the distance at that moment. That’s right, That Guy, we all heard you and looked over to see your 90% naked body getting oiled up. By the way, That Guy is always ripped. I hate That Guy.
Second, I am a nervous pee-er. Before every race, I am running into a Porta-potty every 15 minutes. I swear that the door is hardly shut before I start thinking, “Uh-oh, I may need to go again soon.” I’ve trained really hard for this race and really want a PR (Personal Record for you non-runners) which means the Pee Factor is in full-effect. With half-an hour to start, I again feel the urge but the lines are at least 40 minutes long. There are almost 3,000 runners here and nowhere to duck out. I decided that this is a good time to get over my neuroticism and just deal with it. I am really focused on breaking that PR and I know that I really do not need the bathroom and am just nervous. I can be such a head-case.
The gun goes off, I get a quarter mile in and realize it’s not just nerves. I have a full blown Bladder Buster situation going on here. The first mile is along desolate roads and with all the trenches to the side and overgrown shrubs, I don’t think I can dash off anywhere. The last thing I need is to roll and ankle and end up laying in some field peeing myself. Fortunately, I know there is a Porta-Potty at the 1.5 mile mark.. Just as a reach it, a fellow nervous-urinator bursts out of the outhouse. It’s time to pull a Daytona 500 Piss-Stop. Time me. Forty seven seconds later, I explode out of the blue-plastic door and start trying to make up some time. Go ahead and remember that number. Forty sevan seconds.
Four miles into the 13.1 mile race, my foot starts killing me. It’s been a mess since Ragnar (Read me and notice That Guy was there too) and getting worse. At mile five, it’s starting to become a real issue and I decide that this is my retirement race. I am frustrated with the foot and just upset with the realities of aging. I spend the next mile mentally writing my retirment blog. I’ll need to talk about the physical benefits of running but also all the fun times I have had. Gotta mention the people too. The running community is really cool. By mile 6, I am about 70% certain that I am running on a broken foot or at least some type of stress fracture. This half-marathon is on a beautiful course along a stunning bay in Northern Michigan. I pull over, break out my phone and take a few pictures of the view. Definitely need to put those in the retirement blog.
I slog through the next 2 miles and stop again at the 8-mile-marker. I let myself walk for about forty seconds. I’m not spent, just frustrated and lacking any competitive drive. I make sure to thank a couple veterans that are watching the race. I don’t care what your politics are, those men and women gave up big chunks of their lives and saw things that nobody deserves to see. You are not compromising your beliefs or politics by saying “Thank you.” They deserve at least that. As I decide to get it going again, I hear a spectator mention some buff-dude in tiny pajama shorts running with someone in a matching outfit. That Guy is out there and That Guy is close. That’s all I needed to hear. I am going to wreck the last five miles
By the 9.5 mark, I am right behind That Guy. I am having so much fun reeling him in. That Guy is fading big time and dumping tons of water on himself. His soaked shorts are now pretty much transparant and there is no way I am staying behind that. I pass him right at the 10 mile marker and know that there is no way I will let That Guy catch me.
The rest of the race is awesome. I spend a good chunk of it laughing at myself. I can be such a petty little jerk but stuff like that keeps me going on my races. Honestly, I really needed the opportunity to bury someone who annoyed me. Maybe it’s wrong, but it helped shut out everything else and keep the legs moving.
This course hooks up with the marathon course that I have run a couple times (Yeah, I hit my goal and I ain’t ever doing that again) and I enjoy seeing some landmarks from my marathon. Hey, there’s the mailbox I had to use to stand up after my legs went out. Oops, that’s where Hip Tattoo hit the ground. I wonder what happend to her. Here’s where the race-official threatened to pull me off the course because I could not run/walk a straight line. Good times. It is pretty nice to be able to cruise through areas that were marathon-hell.
As I hit the last quarter mile, I realize that I have been so distracted with my bladder, my foot, and That Guy that I have barely paid any attention to my watch. I round the last corner and see the clock. I have missed the PR I trained so hard for by 20 stupid seconds. That is 1.53 lousy seconds/mile. I literally pissed away my PR. I immediately rage-delete the stupid pictures I stopped to take.
A lot of people have asked me why I did not just pee my shorts and keep going. Simply put, that is disgusting. Maybe if I have a scholarship on the line. Maybe if I could win some big money. Maybe if my kid’s life depended on it. The fact is, I’m just a fortsexy-year-old man trying to stay in shape and beat some personal records. Nobody but me cares at all and that is not worth running 12 miles in pee-soaked clothes. Never considered it and never will. Frankly, I am surprised so many people have asked.
I guess I am OK with how it went. When I was actually running, I actually crushed my PR but it does not count. Poor pre-race/race management blew it. At least, it was not poor training or just being unable to hit that pace anymore. Me just no run so smart.
My foot’s not broken. The podiatrist’s quote was, “You beat the shit out of that foot.” I have taken a few weeks off and will ease myself back into training. I do not think I can live with missing my PR because of bathrooming and pouting. I will give it another shot if my foot holds up. I think it will.
At least That Guy didn’t beat me.