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.)

1 comment:

  1. hey d. i was one of the people slower than you, for sure. it was a beautiful morning, albeit mad crowded.