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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Workin' on a mystery..."

My recent kitchen ventures have actually been remarkably successful. Even my first attempt at soup in my new-to-me crockpot, which would have seemed to invite disaster on multiple levels--including the fact that I not only didn't use a recipe at all, but invited people over to eat it before I had any idea how it would be--somehow worked. I left it cooking while I was at school, and had visions of it boiling over and burning down my building, but in fact, although it had been cooking for close to eight hours, the only problem was that the lentils were still a little crunchy. I cranked the heat to high for a couple of hours, and the soup ended up very tasty and satisfying. I served it with the bread I'd baked the night before, and chocolate chip cookies for which I miraculously had ingredients on hand and was able to whip up without even splattering the walls.

However, though things have been non-disastrous on the kitchen front, today's race was a typical near-disaster. Although I gave myself a full hour to travel the 22 miles to the race site, park and pick up my bib before the 8:00 a.m. gun time, I managed to get myself terribly lost and pulled into the park in time to hear the gun--and then be told by the attendant that the lot was completely full and that I'd have to find somewhere else. Thankfully there were lots of surface streets, and although they were crowded, I was able to find a spot, run across the park to the tent where they kindly let me pick up my bib, and make it across the start line (by myself!) with just eight minutes on the clock. With my heart pounding, alone on an unfamiliar and poorly-marked course, the first part of my run was eerily reminiscent of my standard marathon nightmare.

About half a mile in, I encountered three joggers--but they claimed not to even be aware of the race! I passed them, and was encouraged a few minutes later to see an open safety pin on the sidewalk; another minute later, I was extremely relieved to see the first official mile marker, confirming that I was in fact on the right course.

I spent the first five or six miles passing people and lamenting that I'd forgotten the Marathonator in the car. Suddenly, though, as I was working up one of the (many) hills on the course, I heard, "We know you!" It was the two guys I'd passed in the first mile, and then again a few miles in after stopping at a Port-a-Potty. They had apparently just been out for a weekend long run and had decided to join the course. I took their greeting as an invitation to join them, although by that time they were definitely cruising at a pace much faster than mine. I'm glad I did, because the miles flew by as I chatted with them, hearing Jerry's stories of being a cop in southern California (3 speeding tickets in 12 years; and at least once, shooting the shotgun out of a criminal's hand as he brought it around to fire!) and the hypnosis and visualization techniques Dave uses in his job as a psychologist to help improve athletes' performances. Both were pretty serious runners; Dave, in at least his 60s, mentioned races and relays all over the country.

Jerry left us just after the 10-mile mark, where I'd first seen the guys (the course was two identical laps around the lake). Dave wanted to do 15, so he ran with me to about 13.5, then turned around to finish out his run. We'd run right up behind a group of three guys, and I tagged along behind them for a couple of minutes until they caught me laughing at their jokes and welcomed me in, announcing that they were the 9:30 pace team. I had no idea I'd been going that fast--or faster, really, since Dave and I had caught up to them.

They were Matt, Chad, and a guy who called himself Boz and was full of contagious energy. Matt and Boz had met in the first mile, both aiming for a 9:30 pace, and had caught up to Chad somewhere around 8, where he'd slowed down after starting out too fast. He was training for his first marathon, and this was his longest run ever (which is the best part of being a rookie--every distance run is the longest of your entire life!). 9:30 felt surprisingly comfortable, and again the miles flew by as Boz yodeled excitedly at the onset of every hill and Matt, keeper of the time on his fancy ForeRunner, told us we were still going too fast (I think we averaged about 9:20 over those last six and a half miles). Boz repeatedly insisted it was his best training run ever, and we had to agree. It was gloriously clear, crisp, and only slightly breezy, and the company of three upbeat and funny runners made the time fly; amazingly, I hardly suffered until the last mile, and then only slightly.

The very most amazing thing, though, is that a 9:30 mile pace means you finish your 20 in just 3:10, and I think we were slightly faster than that. Plus, I had started eight minutes behind, which means that today's race was at by far the fastest pace I'd ever run (I'll know my chip time and pace for sure when they post the results online), and not merely one of the most enjoyable.

Wooooo! I think I need to eat now. Again.

1 comment:

Carissa J said...

Oh, what fun! How awesome that you could catch up with the 9:30 team when you started 8 minutes behind! You're COOL! I love hearing about your running adventures. I'm running vicariously through you.