Yesterday, I had LASIK surgery, correcting my nearsightedness. The most awesome part of this, of course, was that I then got to spend the rest of the day laying around in bed, taking long naps. With total impunity. It was a rare and wonderful thing.
And, of course, I got to put lots and lots of eyedrops in my eyes. Three different kinds of eyedrops.
And now, today, I find the following things are true about my eyesight:
I get a cool halo effect around lights, or anything that has light reflecting off it. As if I were in a love scene in a movie. Without, of course, any of the actual love scene stuff happening.
Stuff that seemed really blurry because it was far away no longer seems blurry at all.
The heat vision I requested doesn’t seem to be working yet.
The ability to shoot laser beams from my eyes is also (temporarily, I’m sure) still not quite there. That will come with time, though.
Of course, I’m sure that you are — right this very second — saying to yourself, “I sure wish I could have been there to witness Fatty’s LASIK surgery. And you can! Here’s the actual video of my eyes being laser-ified. Not for the squeamish. Or for the person who doesn’t have eleven minutes lying around.
Also, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t read or use the computer for 24 hours, which means that I am currently disobeying the Dr. Lasik’s (not his real name) orders.
But the thing is, I want to get your advice. So I’ve got a short post, with the hope that you’ll give me some useful ideas.
Next Year…And Beyond
It’s been a crazy-busy year. I’ve raced, ridden, and run in some awesome places.
But now, suddenly, all those things are behind me. So now I’ve got to figure out what should be my objectives for next year? What races should I do? What events should I attend? Of course, I want to do some of my favorite traditional events, but I’d like to see some new stuff as well.
So far, here are the things The Runner and I have planned for 2011:
Ogden Marathon (May 21): This is The Runner’s favorite marathon. It’s local, it’s beautiful. She’s especially excited about this one because we’ve agreed she should train hard for this one and do it fast, without waiting up for me.
LiveStrong Challenge Bay Area (June ?): Team Fatty will be at all the LiveStrong Challenges, but I’m going to make a special effort to be at this one in person.
Leadville 100 (August 13): This year, my plan is to do it on a geared bike and make one last serious effort at a sub-9-hour finish. Having done the race in 9:17 on a SS, I think that’s possible.
Death Valley Marathon (December): We had planned to do this marathon this December, but I am far too broken down to do it. Our revised plan is for me to actually try building a running base and get so I can do a marathon without messing myself up in the process. What a clever idea!
Disney World “Goofy’s Race and a Half” Challenge (January 2012): Okay, this is actually in 2012, but it’s close enough that we’re putting it on the schedule anyway. The Runner wants to do the “Goofy’s Challenge” at Disney World, which is where you do a half marathon one day, and a full marathon the next. I will probably join her for one or the other, but not both.
But What Else?
Here’s the thing, though. I want to do some new stuff. Try some different rides, some different races.
And that’s where I want your help.
I expect that a lot of you have been thinking about your big objectives — races, events, or just plain rides — you want to do next year (or the year after that, or the year after that). And there’s a good chance that this big ride you’ve got in mind is something I would love to do.
So leave a comment, describing it. Tell me what it is, and when it is. Road or mountain. In the US, or outside it. And if you’ve got a URL, that helps too.
The world’s full of awesome places to ride, and I want to see some of them.
How can you tell a serious athlete from a non-serious athlete? Easy. The serious athlete will, from time to time, get a massage.
And I’m not talking about the kind of massage you receive from your significant other, the kind where they knead your shoulders and say things like, “you’re really tense,” because they want to seem like they know what they’re doing.
I’m talking about a professional massage. Given by a professional masseuse.
And, having had my first professional massage last weekend, I feel I am highly qualified to describe the experience, so you can decide whether getting a professional massage is something you would like.
The Runner scheduled us for massages — both at the same time — to be had a few days after we got back from the NYC marathon — a treat to reward us for finishing our last big race of the year. It wasn’t until we got there that it occurred to me to wonder: would the masseuses be men or women?
As it turned out, there was one of each.
Which didn’t help me at all.
Here are the things I considered — all within the space of about four seconds — when confronted with the choice of which masseuse I wanted for myself.
The woman masseuse is the pro; the man is the apprentice.
For some vague — but probably very neanderthaloid and unenlightened — reason, I am icked out at the idea of getting a massage from a man.
For a much more obvious but perhaps equally neanderthaloid reason, I don’t like the idea of another man handling my woman.
I was aware of the intellectual inconsistency in my preferring to get a massage from a woman, but also not wanting another man anywhere near my wife. I explained this in my head as being justifiable because — being one — I knew that men are generally evil.
I explained all this to The Runner in a hushed, urgent whisper, as quickly as I could. She rolled her eyes, called me a dope, and said that since she had been here and had the pro masseuse (as opposed to the apprentice) give her a massage, that she would take the apprentice. I’d get the pro, so I’d get the full pro effect.
I Discover My Comfort Level
So the masseuse shows me into my room and says, “I’ll leave you to undress to your comfort level.” Which had me pondering what my comfort level might be. The truth is, I was completely comfortable remaining fully dressed, and knew for a fact that the less I was wearing, the less comfortable I’d be.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to miss out on the full massage experience.
So, I compromised and got entirely naked.
OK, I guess that’s not much of a compromise. But — and I don’t know if this is different than in most places — pretty much all of me (except the part being worked on at the moment) was always under a sheet, so I wasn’t quite as out there as I might have been. Which I expect was probably as much a relief for the masseuse as it was for me.
I Resolve to Not Cry Out
The Masseuse asked what we’d be concentrating on. I told her that my legs were still sore from the marathon, so I’d like her to concentrate on them.
As she got to work, she said, “Let me know if you’d like more or less pressure.” Which caused me to think two things:
There was no way I was going to ask for more pressure, because I knew from hearing other people that massages can get pretty intense, and I did not want to ask for more pain than I was already destined for.
There was no way I was going to ask for less pressure, because I didn’t want her to think I am a sissy.
I am happy to announce that as she worked on my legs, I did not cry out. Indeed, I did not even feel like I wanted to cry out. The pain was about at the level I expected and left me feeling good.
I do, however, feel a little bad about something. You see, as a conscientious, civic-minded, leg-shaving cyclist, I figured that my legs would be a pleasure for the masseuse to work on. And you know, they probably would have been.
If it weren’t for one little problem.
See, as we get further into the cold months, I grow increasingly neglectful of my shaving duties. Which is to say, I sometimes will go close to a week — instead of every other day, as in the peak cycling months — without shaving my legs.
They get prickly.
Which probably explains how, due to stubble-friction-induced heat, the masseuse’s hands caught fire.
A Startling Revelation, Or Two. Maybe.
I should probably point out that at one point, as I was laying facedown, the masseuse bent my legs back, at the knee. When she did this, she hit resistance right about the time my lower leg was at a 90-degree angle to my upper leg. Another ten degrees and my leg came to a halt. It would go no further without something giving way (as a side note, it may have been academically interesting to find out whether it would be bone, tendon, muscle or ligament that gave way first, but I’m glad we did not find out).
The masseuse let out an involuntary gasp: never, I believe had she witnessed a less-flexible leg.
That, kids, is what happens if you program your range of motion for more than a decade by riding a bike and never ever doing stretching exercises.
Alas, this was not the only revelation from the massage session. At least I think there might have been more. You know how I undressed to my “comfort level?” Well, as I laid on my back and the masseuse massaged my legs, the sheet covering my buttocks seemed to shift around a bit.
Perhaps more than a bit.
Perhaps, it must be said, more than I would have liked. And now than I think about it — seeing as I am a hairy, middle-aged man and stuff — more than the masseuse probably liked, too.
[Note to the masseuse: Sorry.]
Sadly, the leg massage gave way to a back massage. Which would have been just fine, if it had been less painful. Or — this is just a thought — not painful at all.
But it was not unpainful. Rather, the lack of an absence of pain was considerable.
And in short, it hurt.
Specifically, I’m pretty sure that as she worked her fingers beneath my right shoulder blade, the masseuse actually grabbed my right lung and flicked it. Just because she could.
And you know what? Having your lung flicked hurts.
Also, I’m very nearly certain that she broke off a piece of my labrum. And please bear in mind I don’t have all that much labrum to spare in the first place.
So I don’t feel even a little bit embarrassed that — well after the point where a lesser man might have divulged the whereabouts of the nuclear launch codes or whatever other secrets he might have thought he’d never reveal — I said, softly, “Uncle.”
To which she replied, “Stop holding your breath so much. Just breathe.”
And you know, I would have.
Except I’m pretty sure my exhalations would have come out as whimpers.
I’m a big fan of the iPhone. Why? Because it allows me to do very many important blog-related tasks while I am on the go — tasks which directly and materially affect and contribute to the content of my blog and therefore make the phone and the outrageous monthly phone and data fee I pay completely tax deductible.
For example, while in Austin for the LiveStrong Challenge, several of us from Team Fatty were walking to Mellow Johnny’s when we saw the Jose Cuervo Games going on in a parking lot. These games were free, and included the opportunity to ride a mechanical bucking lime.
Yes. A lime. That bucks. Mechanically.
Not ones to pass up an opportunity to do something ridiculous (and free), Jenni L, The Runner and I took turns riding the lime.
I recorded this all, using my iPhone. And then I edited the video, again on my iPhone — adding captions and the most boring soundtrack ever. And then I posted it directly to YouTube. But it looked horrible at the resolution it posts at over the 3G network, so later I uploaded it to Vimeo instead. Here, take a look:
See, that’s a very good, reasonable use of my phone, and easily justifies it as a blog-related business expense.
Even more importantly, however, since I always have my phone with me, and my phone has a camera, I can take pictures pretty much any time I want. Which means that I was able to get — after the lime ride — this photo of ClydeSteve with Levi Leipheimer, who was just hanging out Mellow Johnny’s, buying Christmas presents (yes, really):
Of course, there are several important things you can take away from this brief anecdote and photo, including:
Levi Leipheimer is a very relaxed and accommodating guy, as evidenced by the fact that he walked around the area without a posse or bodyguard. Just your average guy, you know.
Levi has a very good sense of people, as indicated by the way he looks terrified behind that smile, completely aware that ClydeSteve could — and might — crush him under the weight of his enormous hand.
Levi’s and ClydeSteve’s heads are equally luminescent.
[Special Note to ClydeSteve: You can click on the above photo to download it at its original resolution. You know, for your Christmas photo or whatever.]
Finally, I’m Getting to The Point of This Post
Yes, this phone is a miracle of technology, and not just because I can use it tax-deductibly. But as is, as a cyclist I’m under-utilizing this phone horribly.
And, if you are a cyclist and have a smartphone, you are underutilizing your phone, too.
But soon — thanks to my development efforts — your phone will do much, much more.
But wait. Before you roll your eyes and say, “I know about iMapMyRide,” rest assured that this is not an application that just gives you training and route information. No.
Allow me to explain the philosophy and some of the important features of my soon-to-be-released iPhone app, which I am calling “iReal iWorld iCyclist.”
iReal iWorld iCyclist Described
The idea behind “iReal iWorld iCyclist” (or “iRiWiC” for short) is to take the activities cyclists do, and then have the phone do those activities instead, freeing the cyclist to do things other than cycling.
Like tweet about cycling.
The secondary purpose of this application is for you to show the selfsame application to your cycling friends and make them jealous at the fact that you have a cycling-related object they do not have. (And, to make sure you continue to be the only of your cycling group to have this product, you can pay $19.95 [per person] to specify the names of people we will thereafter not sell iRiWiC to. Because, face it, it’s worth paying a little extra to retain exclusivity.)
Enhanced Ride Map + Statistics
When you encounter another rider — on the trail, at a stoplight — there’s a good chance you’ll need to describe your ride. But what if your ride is just a piddly little thing and the other rider has just described a monster epic?
Well, you could say you’re on a recovery ride today (nobody believes other people when they hear this), or you could say you’re just beginning your ride and are just going to ride for a while (nobody believes this, either). You could even tell the truth: that all you’re up for is 45 minutes of flat, easy spinning (people believe this, but aren’t very impressed).
Or you could take out your phone and show them the stats for the “ride” you’ve been “doing.”
When you go to iRiWiC’s “Ride Log” feature, it quickly uses the phone’s GPS to determine your current location, then — instantly — creates all the data you need to show that you are in the final 15 miles of a 140-mile interval training ride. Wow your friends with:
Your top speed (58mph)
Your ride’s elevation profile (includes multiple ascents of all mountain passes within a 50-mile radius)
Your ride track
Your maximum HR: 214
Your HR at the beginning of the ride: 8
Automatic Emergency Alert
Smartphones are equipped with a number of motion and location detecting devices to determine where you are and how fast you were traveling when you got there.
Smartphones are also equipped with phones. Which is smart.
And now, thanks to iRiWiC, your phone can quite literally phone home if you’re in trouble. If, for example, the accelerometer detects that you were going 48mph and then instantly decelerated to 0mph and came to rest on your back and stopped moving altogether, iRiWiC will text up to three people with the message “Just hit a bldg/tree/bottom of cliff. Am upside down. Plz call 4 hlp. Kthxbai!” It will also call 911 and — in a calm, computer-synthesized voice, relay your location information, as well as a colorful metaphor for how much pain you’re probably in.
Optionally, you can also set iRiWiC to tweet this same information and post it as a Facebook status update.
Product Update Alert
It’s crucial, as a proud upscale bike owner, that your bike is the lightest. The stiffest. The upgradiest. But staying ahead of the Joneses is tiring, demanding work. That’s why iRiWiC monitors all major and boutique frame and component manufacturer production statuses.
This way, when you’re riding your 2011 Canondale Flash Carbon Ultimate and Canondale suddenly comes out with its 2011.1 Canondale Flash Carbon SuperUltimate, you won’t be caught flat-footed. One click and iRiWiC will get your tragically obsolete bike onto eBay and place an order with your local dealer (iRiWiC supports local dealers) for the latest and greatest.
Strong Opinion Generator
Sick of tracking which pros are allegedly clean, which are allegedly doping, and which have always tested clean but some think are doping anyway? Still want to appear knowledgeable during the outrage-filled conversations that happen before and after group rides? Simply go to iRiWiC’s Strong Opinion Generator, select the pro / team in question, and then click the “like” or “hate” button. iRiWiC will scan through opinionated cycling sites, blogs, and Twitter accounts to find all the relevant “facts” supporting the point of view you have chosen to adopt.
Then, just to mess with your friends, after letting the conversation go for a couple minutes, you can easily switch to the other point of view and sound just as convincing.
Favorable Ride Analysis Generator
You’re not always going to set a personal best time every time you do a climb. You’re not always going to have a banner day when riding on the flats. It’s just a fact of life: some days, you’re not going to ride as well as others.
But when you suck, that doesn’t mean you have to take responsibility for it.
Simply open iRiWiC’s “Ride Analysis” generator and it will give you — along with an honest assessment of your actual speed and distance — the mitigating factors that explain why you didn’t go very fast. Including:
Scan weather services to discover probable unfavorable wind direction, as well as excessively high/low temperatures
Evaluate position of the sun with regards to your line of sight during the ride to evaluate likelihood (very high) of sun being in your eyes.
Search news services to find whether there is a high pollen count (trust me, there is).
Review records of doctors and hospitals in the area to see whether there’s something (a cold, the flu) that’s been going around. And there always is.
Funny Sound Analyzer
What’s that weird sound coming from your bike? It sounds kind of like crickets. Or maybe like a nail gun. Or maybe crickets being attacked with a nail gun.
Whatever it is, it for sure means something’s wrong with your bike. You just can’t tell what.
Well, simply fire up iRiWiC and press the “Listen” button, then put your phone near your bike (don’t worry about putting it exactly next to the place where the sounds coming from, since it’s almost impossible to tell). iRiWiC will match the sound your bike is making to its extensive database other bikes have made and their mechanic-certified ailments.
Then, when you call your mechanic, you can say, “I think my bottom bracket has a cracked bearing” instead of “When I pedal, my bike makes a ‘crunka-squirka-crunk’ sound.
Bonus Funny Sound Feature: iRiWiC records the sound as you make it so, if necessary, you can play it back to your mechanic. This is a very helpful feature since — guaranteed — when you get to the bike shop your bike will immediately (albeit temporarily) cease making that noise altogether.
Post-Ride Food Recommendation
You’re back from your ride. You’re hungry. What should you eat? It’s a true dilemma, and a serious one at that.
iRiWiC is here to help. Based on how far you have ridden, on what kind of terrain, and at what level of effort, iRiWiC will tell you what an optimal recovery food would be for you.
If you’re going to do a marathon, it’s a really good idea to have an idea of why you are doing it. Because otherwise, the misery of the event is simply too much to bear.
For example, are you doing it because you’re really fast and think you can place well in your age group? Or because you want to prove (to yourself or others) you’re capable of going that distance? Or because you just really love to run?
Maybe because you want the t-shirt?
For me, the answer to all of these questions is “no.”
The reason I wanted to do the NYC marathon is because the idea of running through the streets of NYC, along with 40,000+ other people, with screaming crowds lining the streets for (nearly) the entirety of the event, sounded like an experience worth having, even if it hurt a lot.
Oh, and also because the Runner wanted to run it, and I didn’t want her to think I’m a sissy.
A Little Bit About My Pre-Race Training
The 2010 NYC Marathon marks the third marathon I’ve done (note my choice of the word “done,” as opposed to “run”) this year. It also marks the third marathon I’ve done this year without having successfully trained for that marathon. This time, I came to the race with a sore right knee and an aching left hip.
And in short, I was not able to run at all until about a month before the race, and then I worked up to a painful hobbling 14 miles maximum distance.
So what could go wrong?
Hanging Out With Team Fatty NYC
The day before the race, The Runner and I met with LiveStrong’s Colleen Legge and a few members of Team Fatty NYC at Nike Town, for a pre-race breakfast fuel-up. I’ve got to say, I loved talking with others from Team Fatty, especially because most of the other guys had similar aches and pains as mine. There’s no more sympathetic audience in the world than a group of people with matching excuses.
Weirdly, none of the women complained about running injuries. I’m sure that was just coincidence, though.
Then, later that evening, we all got together at a restaurant for dinner to continue our pre-race fueling. Here we are, modeling the Team Fatty NYC tech t’s Pearl Izumi provided for us:
And then the night after the race, we all got together at the LiveStrong party and ate again: post-race recovery fueling, you know.
Don’t you find it peculiar that Team Fatty always eats when we get together?
Nope, me neither.
And you’ll just have to trust me that it was the weird lighting in the room that resulted in everyone looking horribly sunburned in that last photo.
It’s probably a fair statement that neither The Runner nor I are experts at NYC public transportation. It is probably furthermore another fair statement that both of us have a terrible sense of direction.
So, to compensate, we spent a big chunk of Saturday afternoon trying to figure out what our route to the starting line of the race should be — how we should get to the subway, which subway to get on, which direction we should be going, and where we should get off.
And, I’m happy to say, it took us only about an hour to find the correct station. And a couple of wrong choices for which subway to take.
But by the end of the day, we were confident that we knew how to get to the ferry to Staten Island, in plenty of time for our assigned 5:45 ride.
By the end of that day — the day before the race — The Runner and I had walked eight miles, and my right knee was killing me. As in, stepping up onto a curb hurt.
I had grave concerns about whether I could possibly even walk a marathon the following day.
So, fast forward to 5:00AM on Sunday AM. We arrive at the subway station, ready for the R train to pick us up.
Unfortunately for us, we didn’t count on the fact that the R train schedule is a lot less frequent on Sunday at 5:00AM than it is on Saturday afternoons.
And so — along with several other runners — we waited for our train for 45 minutes, meaning that we had missed our ferry before we ever got on our subway.
And I had a feeling the ferry captain wouldn’t hold the boat for us.
As it turned out, though, everything was just fine. We arrived at the ferry just in time for the 6:15 departure. Meaning that we spent 45 minutes in the warm subway station standing and waiting that we would have otherwise spent outside in the cold.
And we still got to the starting area two hours before our wave of the race began.
The Runner and I were slotted to be in the second wave of runners, in the orange group. Which meant that we — along with untold thousands of other runners — had a couple of hours to wait outside until our 10:10 starting time.
And that two hours was an excellent period of time to consider exactly how well The Runner had prepared for this event.
The week before, she had gone to a used clothes store and bought us very warm clothes — heavy track pants, big thick ski coats — for us to wear. She then supplemented all this with heavy gloves, hats, and hand warmers. Look at how attractive we are in our finery:
As a result, we were comfortable and relaxed while others all around us shivered in whatever they could improvise.
Mostly variations of the “wear a trash bag and get into a fetal position” theme.
Eventually, it was our turn to get into the runners’ corrals. We shed our heavy coats and track pants, stuffing them into bags to be redistributed to people who need them. I’ve got to say, I’m going to miss that coat.
We shuffled off, slowly working our way to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Over and over, I kept thinking — and saying, probably to The Runner’s annoyance — the following two thoughts:
I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there were so many thousands of people all wanting to run a marathon. Sure, I had known before that there were 40,000 people doing this race, but until you’re actually in the sea of people, the hugeness of that number of people doesn’t really hit home.
My knee hurt.
I held my phone up as high as I could, trying to get a picture of this endless sea of people:
Per tradition, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was played on the PA, a cannon fired, and we began.
At that point, the difference between what the race looks like up close and what it looks like from above is really striking. The MTA captured a time-lapse video of the start of the race that really looks incredible:
From our perspective on the other hand, the first couple of miles is all about dodging the coats, hats, blankets and gloves people discard as they warm up.
Getting Into The Running Rhythm
By the four-mile mark, The Runner and I agreed: our hats, gloves, and long-sleeved jerseys were too warm; we were overheating. So we stopped, removed our gloves and hats (leaving them on the side of the road), and tied our long-sleeved jerseys around our waists.
We started running again, only to stop a moment later: with our Clif Shots (our gel of choice) in the jersey pockets, there was way too much bouncing around. So we took the gels out and went back to the run, just holding them. I had three in each hand, figuring I would start sucking one down every three miles, beginning at mile five. My gels would be my countdown mechanism. When I got down to the last gel, I’d be down to the last three miles.
The Runner ran ahead of me, usually about five feet in front, dodging and passing people — the crowd never ever thinned out during the day; there were always people close in front, behind and to the sides of us.
And it was then, at about mile five or six, as I ran behind The Runner, trying (successfully, at that point) to stay with her, that something occurred to me. Something so surprising that I ran to be alongside The Runner and blurted it out:
“My knee. It doesn’t hurt. At all.“
“Seriously?” She answered. “Well, I’d better get as many miles out of you as possible while it feels good, then.”
And — for whatever reason — my knee didn’t hurt for the whole run. Even as the rest of me discombobulated and I began to make whimpering noises, my knee felt fine.
I’m pretty sure I have — at least in part — Pearl Izumi and their awesome running shoes to thank for that.
Before long, we settled into our marathon routine: we would run to each aid station (which happened every mile), then walk through the aid station, drinking a cup of Gatorade.
Sights and Sounds
Honestly, I was feeling good. Around mile ten, The Runner said, “the miles are going by so fast!” And she was right. We were both overwhelmed by the surreal feel of the race — a constant, huge crowd cheering encouragement, a constant, huge crowd running alongside us, a city I have only ever seen choked with cars now filled with runners — that it often felt like we were just being carried along, witnessing something much, much too big to fit in our brains.
By mile fifteen, though, I was cooked. The Runner would get further and further ahead of me — not because she intentionally wanted to drop me, but because it’s just as hard to run below your natural pace as it is to run above it. Each time she slowed for me to catch up, I’d gasp my thanks.
“We’re here to see this together, not race it,” she replied. And besides, while she waited for me to catch up, she had time to take all the pictures I’m posting here today.
I’m a lucky guy to have her.
Musical groups — some rock bands, one gospel choir, one bagpipe band — were all over the place, performing both for the running and standing audiences.
Every mile, I’d look forward to my walking rest at the aid stations. But, as the race went on and more and more people were stopping at each aid station, the number of cups and spilled water / gatorade became comical — there were places where you were more wading than running.
Once bananas were added to this wet mix, things got really messy. And I found out — for the first time in my life — that a banana peel really can be dangerously slippery.
The night before the race, The Runner and I took a Sharpie and inked our names on the front and back of our running shirts. She wrote “Lisa” on front and back; I wrote “Fatty” on the front and “I am Fatty” on the back. You know, so people wouldn’t think I was calling them fatties.
As a result, throughout the day, people on the sidelines would yell, “Go Lisa! And…Fatty?”
Almost always followed by laughter.
What, you think my name is funny?
Team Fatty Gives Me a Boost
By the time I got to mile 15, I was slowing waaaay down. And by the time I got to mile 18, I started fixating on one thing: early in the morning, Philly Jen — co-captain of Team Fatty Philly (whose recently-biopsied tumor is not malignant — YAY) had texted me, saying that a group of them would be waiting at around 117th to cheer us on.
And there they were. With Reeses Peanut Butter cups and everything.
I was amazed at how re-energized seeing this awesome group of friends made me. I ran on behind The Runner with renewed energy and purpose.
For about another half mile anyway.
To the Finish Line . . .
By the time I hit mile 23, I was completely beat. I was taking much longer — and slower — walking breaks, and feeling embarrassed about how much I was slowing down The Runner, but not really able to do anything about it.
Also, by mile 23, I no longer had an appetite for my final Clif Shot. It remained uneaten.
But by mile 24, I knew we were close, and I put whatever little I had in reserve into trying to finish strong. I was so happy that the race organizers had been so thoughtful as to put in increasingly small landmarks: Final 3/4 mile, final 1/2 mile, 400, 300, 200, 100 yards to go.
The Runner slowed down, let me catch her, then took my hand and raised it high. We crossed the finish line that way, together.
Then we stood in front of a picturesque trailer and had our photo taken together.
4:37. A reasonable time — I guess — for someone who hadn’t been training at all until a month ago. And I’m happy to say that I was faster than both Jared the Subway Guy (5:13) and Al Roker (7:09). So take that, other people famous for being fat.
. . . And Beyond
But once you cross the NYC Marathon finish line, you’ve still got some serious work ahead of you. Namely, to get back to the hotel. And with 40,000 people racing and countless spectators, taxis, cars, and public transportation are all pretty much out.
So we walked back. Two miles. And change. And when you add in our walk to the after-race party and back and our walk to Chipotle’s to get enormous post-race burritos, that’s about 31 miles The Runner and I put into our feet that day.
Now it’s two days later. And getting up or down a set of stairs is still a big production.
Our next marathon? Ogden, this May. Maybe — just maybe — this time I’ll actually be able to train through and run the whole thing. That would be a nice change.
Regardless, though, The Runner has made it clear that this time, she is not waiting for me.
I’ll start working on my race report during the flight home today, but meanwhile, please enjoy this photograph of an unusually attractive bag lady I photographed in the early hours before the race yesterday.
She looks happy, sleeping there with a cardboard pillow. And remarkably fit. As if she might wake at any moment, shed those twenty layers of clothes and start running.