Usually, no matter how tired I am before the start of a race, I get excited once I’m lining up to get my run on. I can be at a race with 50 other runners where the starting line is a couple of orange cones and a guy with a whistle. Or I can be in a corral with several hundred of my closest friends and the actual starting line is miles and miles away on the horizon. Regardless, there’s at least one moment or two when I’m thrilled to be on the verge of a run.
That feeling was 100% absent at the starting line of the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans on Feb.10. Instead of that butterflies-in-my-belly woo-hoo-this-is-fun moment, all I thought was, “I guess I’m doing this.”
And, reader, I did it.
My lack of enthusiasm has nothing to do with the race itself, mind, or the company, the weekend, or New Orleans. It was a “meh” of my own that arrived unexpectedly.
Any runner who has run for longer than a couple of weeks knows that your feelings about lacing up your shoes and hitting the streets wax and wane. Most days, you just kind of do it because you know you’ll feel better when you do. Every now and again, you’re like a kid on her birthday, ready to rip some paper off of your gifts. Then there are the days when a root canal sounds more appealing, if only because you won’t have to move too much.
Sunday was that sort of day. I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t all that tired. I was just the runner equivalent of a shrug.
The previous 36 hours had been great fun, however. The four of us — BRF Lisa, Ariel, and Coach Christine — each had our own list of things to do in the Big Easy. Christine and Ariel were all about the music. Lisa and I took in a Pod Save America taping. The next day, BAMR Heather caught up with us for coffee and dinner.
Mostly, though, there was wandering and eating. Because New Orleans.
All of the wandering and eating caught up with me at mile two, when my tummy starting rumbling. As it turns out, beignets and po’ boys and blackened gator are terrible race fuel. Shocking, I know. I am happy to be your cautionary tale.
Nothing overly catastrophic happened — but I did experience the finest port-a-potties in all of the city. Which were really just standard port-a-potties but some had strings of beads in them. So, you know, sort of festive.
I never once thought about bailing on the race. One: I wasn’t in active pain, just vaguely uncomfortable; and, two: I wanted to check Louisiana off of my 50 state map. And I am nothing if not goal driven.
I did perk up around mile 12, if only because I knew the finish line was close. I even sprinted the last quarter-mile, which fortunately when the rest of my posse saw me. They claimed I looked all eye-of-the-tiger then. Really, I was just so happy to be nearly done.
That afternoon, after a shower and a sandwich, I did one of the smarter things I’ve done, which is head to a local spa for a massage. If you are able both to spend both the dollars and time, I highly recommend this. My happy haze lasted all day.
Then I flew home, where I learned a very important lesson.
The flights both down and back went well. Thanks to the advice on my last post, I made a point of sitting in a window seat near the middle of the plane, where turbulence is less, um, turbulent. Whenever it would get bumpy, I visualized myself in a boat on the ocean. I added a mantra from The Bloggess and Neil Gaiman, too: Pretend You’re Good At It, which is excellent life advice that comes in handy when 30,000 feet in the air.
No, my lesson came after I landed in Albany. My bag did not make the same trip.
Which wasn’t the end of the world. I was on my way home and have plenty of clean underpants there, too.
As I was describing my bag and its contents to the woman tasked with finding it, I realized that my coat was in my bag.
“I’ll just need to run to my car …. oh.”
I might have dropped an f-bomb.
Because at that very moment I realized that I’d left my car keys in my coat pocket, which was in my suitcase, which was somewhere else.
I did all of the things you do. I called my husband and the Subaru dealer and AAA. The last two were no help. My husband, who is a mensch, decided to drive the hour to the airport. It would put him there just after the next flight from BWI, which is where we figured my bag had wandered off.
I spent the next few hours practicing my super power, which is killing time. I knitted. I farted around on my phone. I ate an indifferent breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts because it was the only place open on my side of security and I was starving.
Then a miracle occurred.
My little red suitcase was on the next flight from Baltimore and we were reunited. Not in enough time to save my spouse from what would turn out to be a pointless trip to the airport, mind — but we can’t have everything.