06 June 2011

Addiction

I went through a dry spell the month of April for events. I had 5k races lined up but no half marathons. I can’t believe how much I missed all the hub-a-baloo in getting to one, participating and then getting back. I think my friend Tami has it right – I’m as badly addicted to the events as addicts are to their drugs. But I said it nicer – she compared me to a crack whore. And while it might be an appropriate comparison, I’m not so sure I like being in the same group as crack whores. She’s right, though. I’m addicted and half marathons are my drug of choice. You can dress up my addiction any way you want – getting healthy, getting fit, challenging myself, etc – but it still amounts to a dependence upon an outside force or event to feel worthy, alive and strong.

April was the first month I did not have a race scheduled since October of last year. And I didn’t like it. I kept looking for a feasible race – something close that I could get to in between shifts at the fun job and the job that pays the bills – but I couldn’t find one. So I settled for 5k events. They were enough to whet my appetite but failed to satisfy my craving. I did one the first weekend in April and was excited when I came in with a time of 38 minutes – that blew my old best time of 52 minutes out of the water. Then I got the news that the course was only 2.2 miles, not 3.1. Hmph - so much for really rocking that race. I did another 5k toward the end of April but I didn’t finish that one. We had an uncharacteristic amount of rain and the course was on a muddy, hilly track. I think I walked about 2 miles with my feet slipping and sliding all over the place and I decided to quit. I was NOT going to get injured on a stupid 5k – I was saving that distinction for one of my beloved half marathons, by golly! Besides, the very next weekend I was flying to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (please remember that when I say “marathon”, I really mean “half marathon”).

I was very excited for May. I had THREE races lined up and was contemplating a fourth. The first one was the OKC race May 1st; the second was the Run Colfax race in Denver May 15th and the third race was “just” a 10K in Boulder, the BolderBoulder 10K on Memorial Day. The other race I was contemplating was the Grand Valley Marathon May 7th in Palisade – an easy race to get to with no travel or time off required. Whether I signed up for the Grand Valley Race or not, May was going to be a stellar race month for me and I couldn’t wait. I was excited and nervous all at once. Never had I attempted two marathons in one month and never had I attempted a race with a 3 ½ hour cut off (Colfax had that cut off). Yea for May!

The Oklahoma City Memorial was a bust for me – it rained like I had never seen rain before and it was cold. I decided to not even start. I rationalized with myself that I pay to race, not be miserable and that I couldn’t afford to twist an ankle or have my knee go out on me while I was walking. But what it really amounted to was the fact that I was a wimp – I could’ve done the race and my heart knew it. Oklahoma is left uncolored on my map (I have a map of the States on my wall and I color in each state when I complete a marathon) and when I think of why, I kick myself. The quitter in me tells me that not doing that race did me in – I’ll never do another one. The drill sergeant tells the wimp to shut up and she won’t be quiet until I sign up for the Grand Valley Marathon. “Redemption,” the Drill Sergeant tells me, “You do this one, you’re still good. You don’t do it and well, I’ll go find a new recruit.” I couldn’t have my Drill Sergeant abandon me (who would I blame my potty mouth on?) so I signed up to do the race. Besides, it had a medal.

Grand Valley was a beautiful race with Pike’s Peak (not really, but it sure seemed like it) smack dab in the middle of it. Not only did I have to go up it on the way out, I had to go down it on the way back in. Everyone who passed me going down the mountain as I was going up it asked me if I was ok. One guy even told me that there was a medic at the top. How was I supposed to take that? Yes, I was walking up the mountain and yes, it was killing me but I was still moving and I was even encouraging them as they ran by me on the way down. What part of that screams distress? Still, I made it to the top, I made it down and I finished 6 minutes faster than my best time at the Dallas Rock n Roll. So there, you “true runners”! I made it and didn’t have to stop at the medic station for first aid! Granted, it took me twice as long as some of you but I still finished and I even worked a double at the fun job right afterwards. AND I got a medal – the SAME medal you got. (Imagine me sticking out my tongue and performing the ever elegant raspberry)

The next race on my schedule was the Run Colfax Marathon. I was nervous about this one as it had a cut off time of three and a half hours and I have yet to do one of my races in three and half hours. I am getting closer to that time but I’m not quite there yet so I was worried about this one. I did not want to be picked up by the SAG wagon and I wanted the medal. Of course the weather couldn’t cooperate – it was rainy, windy and slightly chilly. But I have come to expect nothing less than rain at a race. My friend Cheryl says I should contract my services out to areas that are in a drought – get them to pay my race entry and I’ll come and it will rain. I’m your very own walking Indian rain dance but slightly more successful as of the 7 half marathons I’ve participated in, only 2 have been without drizzle or rain. And at this race, not only did it rain but it snowed as well. The Colfax was a beautiful course, though, despite the rain and snow, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The course went down the most “colorful” parts of Colfax Avenue and even ran through a Firehouse (I really enjoyed THAT scenery). It ended at Denver City Park and my friend, Mark, walked with me the last 2 miles of the course and Tami was waiting for me at the finish line. I must say, it was the best way to spend a birthday.

The last race of the month was the BolderBoulder 10K race on Memorial Day. According to all the advertisement, it’s the “best 10k race in the nation” and attracts a lot of runners from all over the world. I was a little skeptical because I couldn’t imagine a 10k generating so much interest and I couldn’t believe the cost to enter – it was almost as much as one of the Rock n Roll series marathons. AND they didn’t give medals! What kind of funky race doesn’t give a medal? And why in the world did I register for it if I wasn’t going to get a medal??? I wasn’t very worried about this race – it’s just 6.2 miles and that is just half of what I’m used but I was a little concerned over the reported 50,000 people signed up (yes, that’s the right amount of zeroes) cause, as any one of my friends or family will tell you I DON’T DO PEOPLE. My wave started at 0824 exactly and off I went. I kept expecting the crowd to thin out because it ALWAYS thins out but not this time. The people kept coming and coming. There was a big group in front of me, there was a big group behind me and there was a big group all around me. Everywhere I looked I saw nothing but bobbing heads and undulating flesh. I got tripped 3 times by people passing me, I tried to hold hands with a number of surprised folk and yet the crowd never thinned out. I started with a group of a thousand and I finished with a group of a thousand. And I got my first running injury. Just after mile 1, I pulled something in my left hip that made me catch my breath. And then it made me contemplate quitting. For the next mile I thought of nothing else than getting to an aid station and throwing in the towel. All the people were overwhelming, I was hurt, it was raining (of course it was raining), and I kept getting stomped on and tripped. I tried to keep to the right; I tried to keep to the left. All I wanted to do was quit but the crowd was relentless. By the time I saw the first aid station, I was swept by it with the crowd. So I told myself to make it to the next one. And then the next one. And then the next one. Until I was at the course summit and only 2 miles from the finish. Limping and whining, I made it to the finish with the millions of others. And I wasn’t even last. But I didn’t get a medal. However, I did get my first injury which, according to the doctor, is a typical IT Band injury and will sideline me from running (ok, keep in mind the very loose interpretation I have of the term "running") for the next 1-2 months.

Overall, May was a successful race month. I finished 2 half marathons and one 10k in one month. This time last year, I was barely doing 10 minutes on the treadmill and hadn’t even entered a 5k yet. I spend free time on www.halfmarathons.net, dreaming of my next race. I spend any liquid assets on race gear – Ktape, Tech Shirts, running socks, fuel belts, etc. I do my best to get my friends addicted with me so I’ll have company on a race and I think of things in relation to entry fees. For example, “I could buy a couple of new outfits for work or I could enter ________ race.” Guess which usually prevails?

My name is Bethany (or Starunner as I prefer to be called) and I am an addict. It’s been 7 days since my last race and I can’t stop thinking about the next one. And I’m thinking my doctor imposed 1-2 month sanction from racing will be whittled down to 2 weeks. There’s a race in Idaho I’ve already paid for…

Grand Valley Half Marathon – 3:39:59
Run Colfax Half Marathon – 3:37:30
BolderBoulder 10k – 1:50:44

And just to give some perspective, my first half marathon in San Francisco in October of 2010 came in at – 4:26:26.
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