April 19, 2009

All the tired horses in the sun

I have finally recommenced the rites of running, after a week of lapse because of an imaginary cracked rib. In fact I probably pulled a muscle in my side running "hard" up Park Slope. My upper body strength has totally atrophied, or maybe I have flamboyant arm motion. One way or another, I seem to have pulled a muscle by flapping my arms too hard.

I missed the Scotland Run, and its fabulous t-shirt. A poet on a running shirt, and I freaking missed it. I quickly registered for today's Run As One 4M in Central Park, same course as my last race, just to get back in the saddle.

This morning I woke with last night's carousing weighing heavy in my head. After feeding myself, feeding the cat, kissing the wife still adrowse (I wish she'd stop telling me to "break a leg"), and a bad moment deciding which shoes to wear, I hopped on a train full of shy, sleepy runners.

The festival atmosphere at the lung-conscious Run As One rivaled that of the Colon Cancer Challenge, if only because there were thousands more people. But there was no one dressed as a bodily organ (or border state) this time. I made good time picking up my number, but then things fell apart. The t-shirt line was endless, there was even a wait for safety pins. The baggage area was carefully hidden up a hill and behind the Bandshell. I had to pee twice. It was pretty late by the time I was able to run my warm up.

I ran up and down the transverse, with a detour to pee again. My watch only will display the stop watch or the time, so arrived a little a late to the start, everyone already in position. A marshal directed me to my corral, but I was blocked by a big tough in a fluorescent vest. "But the marshal told me I could enter here," I whined. "Yeah?" he drawled like he was a cop in a Mack Sennett picture, "Bring him to me. Nobody gets in after time." I slinked down a little from Officer Pupp and hopped the fence, but I was still in the next corral down from mine.

This put me with a few hundred worthies who ran slower than me. Once the horn went off the pack didn't budge, and I began to get itchy. When we started to walk slowly about a minute later I thought I was going to lose my mind. We finally got going, but real slow, and I spent a half mile trying to find a place to hit my pace. I started flapping my arms to make some space, but that began to hurt my pulled muscle, so I just threaded up as best I could. This was an insanely crowded race (7500 people), so that was no mean feat.

I spent the whole race picking people off and passing them up, which was fun, but I felt like I was trying to catch up to a will-o-the-wisp. I couldn't concentrate on my splits, I just kept trying to cut the line. When the finish line finally showed up I felt great relief. I didn't pull out much of a kick till the last few feet, but I did manage to finish spent.

It was such a joy to find my cheering wife and baby there. It's hard to get the baby out to Central Park, and it's a rare treat to have my crew there. She had hooked up with some friends of ours, who waited very patiently while I kept waiting for the results.

I don't know why I needed to know the results right away. I was a little grouchy about my stressed pre-race, and just needed some immediate gratification I guess. After the results were finally announced (no plaque this time) I finally ran to catch up with the group for a lovely picnic in Riverside Park.

Apart from the crowds and the stress, I think of this race as the first of Spring. The weather was perfect and magnolias and bulbs were in plenteous bloom all over the park. Birds were chirping up a storm, jumping away as we ran past.

After almost two weeks away from running, it was lovely to flap my arms again.

(Photo from NYRR website.)

April 7, 2009


Originally uploaded by seancrane
After a long and wonderful run on Sunday, Monday found me stiff, achy and complaining of a weird middle-back ache. I cut short my easy run yesterday and ran not at all today. Still feeling punkish today, and wondering whether I'll be able to make the Scotland Run on Saturday. And I just had my racing kilt pressed.

So here's a picture of a platypus. Enjoy.