You can find the first part of the Journey here. So that you aren’t coming completely in the middle of a story or anything.
Now that I had finished my first ever race of sorts, it became apparent that small goals will help obtain the larger goal. Which when you say it out loud, you basically just say “duh.” But it doesn’t seem so obvious without that step. You agree to do a marathon, you find a marathon training program and go from there, right? No. I’m assuming motivation is the biggest killer of goals. And not that I’m that well motivated, things just fell in place as they should have.
Around finishing the 8K in March, my other friend, the bragger, suggests we do a half marathon in May. Sounds good to me. From this point on, our training and running is each other’s business. For me, I’m brutally honest about how I feel I am failing; to him, his motivation is like most, if you are passing someone, you’ll feel good. In all respects, I’m just not that type of person. What makes most feel good, is passing people. Blowing right by them. You hear people talking being upset that they arrived late to race and had to start with the ‘slower’ people. Don’t let that ever fool you, they fucking love it. They show up late on purpose, so that they can just run past a ton of people. They live for it. Motivation through superiority.
When I pass someone, I almost want to slow down and talk them up. Which is the same for me when I’m gaming. If I own your face, I don’t IRL pat myself on the back, I sit there a ponder the reasons. If I could have a personal chat with you, I’d give you some suggestions. As I would hope someone that owns my face would too. But there is something wrong with me.
He is in all, sometimes a decent person. But he needs his wins, or he’ll nerd rage. Consistently we meet up for weekend ‘long‘ runs. Which consist of the same thing. We start running together he then breaks off, pushes himself all of 100 yards, so that he can be in front. So that he can sit at the end for all of 2 minutes and in heavy breath go … “sigh … finally.”
Running is so far from gaming in MMOs, they aren’t really comparable. If you were to consider the first couple of months as tier 1, the progression was even really there. It started with trying to complete a mile, it ended with being able to barely do a mile. The initial progression is so slow that I can see how really depressing it gets. Doing 3 miles consistently is hard. Doing 6 miles on Sundays, makes you fall in love with Mondays.
By the end of April I had found a routine. I got off work, I ran, I showered, I slept. My actual MMO subscription ran out. You can look to the right on the prior months and see for yourself. I disappeared in April. My grind was now my legs.
I’m in my routine. I am doing what I can. Not feeling great about my runs, but I’m doing them. And to me at the time, that’s what counts. And then it happens. A slowly creeping pain starts at the front right shin. At first it’s an irritation, not enough to stop the run. In the beginning of May, our ‘long’ run had been moved to a 12 mile goal; to prep us for the half, only 2 weeks away. Not 4 miles in and my right shin inflames in pain. A burning pain. I continue to run through it, hoping ignoring it will make it go away. By mile 7 I was at a slow painful agonizing walk of shame back to the car.
It had locked up all muscles from the knee to the foot. I couldn’t move the ankle. The next couple of days around the office were horrible. Limping like I had a kilo of cocaine in my ass. Of course, you have hurt yourself, and all the world wants to help by offering their suggestions. And of course, all of them are not only doctors in physical exercise, they also happen to be professional runners too.
“Did you get fitted into running shoes? No? Well that’s it, stupid.”
“Have you taken a Chi Running courses?”
“You probably don’t stretch properly.”
Everyday, it was the same thing “Did you get shoes yet? Well, I told you.” From everybody. Remember when I said, don’t tell anybody, anything, ever. Still stands.
I’m about 2 weeks from failing my next goal, and I have a pain that won’t even allow me to walk, let alone run it, your opinion means nothing. I have but one option; completely rest, no more training, and pray for the miracle. In that rest I did finally get ‘fitted‘ running shoes. Besides generally hurting your wallet for about $150, they definitely feel much nicer to run in. A little late in the process to do that purchase, but hey.
Wild guesses on the pain would lead most into thinking it was shin splints. Ice, rest, and wait for the big day was what I knew.
Race day. It’s raining, it’s not cold, but it’s raining. My buddy shows up extremely late. All of about 2 mins before race start. As you exit the undercroft to line up for the race, the entrance makes you walk to the left of the start line and then walk by all the ‘real’ runners for a quarter-mile till you reach the back of the pack. As you walk by 500 runners, I’m looking for pockets of people like … me. This was a half marathon, and only about a dozen were not in top running condition. It was an intimidating walk to the back of the herd.
The rain lets up just for a short moment before the start of the half marathon. It’s a silent jog for the first 3 miles. It’s 7am and the streets are completely silent. All you can hear is the patter of footstep through the puddles from the overnight rain. My thought processes weren’t there and they were focused on one thing: “When does the pain erupt?”
I’m just waiting. I can’t feel it yet, but I know it’s coming. The Maryland Half Marathon was designed in such a way that it was meant to destroy you. On mile 9 through most of 10 was a gigantic hill. Not an incline for a mile and half, a giant … fucking hill. As I approach the Murderhorn, I could see the stream of runners going up it. Not one able to run it. Half way up this hill, the right leg is crying. It actually developed as an emotional being and was wailing like the world was ending. My last 4 miles were a horrible struggle of walk then jog and hoping I didn’t see a nice patch of grass to go curl up and die in.
The very last 2 miles were a winding snake pit of lies. For whatever reason that possesses stupid people to do things, the marathon organization decided to place ‘motivational‘ signs all about the area. These signs say all the same thing “You are almost there” and “Finish is just around the corner.” Fucking lies. We are 2 miles away, I know how long a half marathon is, you aren’t going to fool me. They end up spiraling your mental state into complete bitterness and anger as you bend every corner to a sign.
I’m rounding a corner and 2 marathon volunteers are there, clapping and chanting, “Come on, the finish is right there, go gogogo!”
Whatever, I’ve been told that for the last 20 minutes, go away.
I bend this corner, and holy shit, it is actually the finish. The finish takes place on a quarter mile of horse track. Ever run on sand before? It’s as much fun at the end of a run as wisdom teeth removal. Once crossed you then have to walk the entire track around to the festival/exit to parking area. You always need a bit of a walk after a run, but for me, I had been walking for quite some time already. My right leg had now gone into so much pain, that the pain itself wasn’t registering in my brain any longer. In fact, I couldn’t even feel it my leg. I paused for a second to look around for my buddy. The legged locked up and I was no longer able to move. To get back to the car, I dragged the leg the distance to do so. That was a fun ride home on a manual transmission. I only stalled at least a dozen times.
The Half Marathon Medal is quite nice though:
Be on the lookout for part 3 of this exciting tale,