I went to a costume party the night before my first 5k run ever. Not the smartest move. I know. As a nondrinker/smoker/recreational drug user I figured I’d be fine. I don’t want to tell you this next piece because I’m sure I will get emails about being insensitive, trashy, heartless etc. but here ya go… I decided to go as a crack head like my roommate (it was a theme group). Insensitive - yes. Easy to do – you bet ya.
We sprinkled our black clothes with powdered sugar, put on makeup a la Amy Winehouse, dreaded our hair and using various Hollywood makeup tricks picked up on sets made it look like we were… well you get the idea.
I was secretly hoping that someone would say, “nice costume.” To which I was going to reply “What costume? This is a costume party?” That was going to be the highlight of my boring day. Unfortunately, I have quick actor friends who upon seeing me enter the party said, “Hey you were suppose to wear a costume!” Damn.
Anyway, long story abbreviated I got 3 hours of sleep and was cursing myself when I had to wake up for Run for the Trees at 6am the next morning. Mornings are the devils playground. Why is the world such a hostile place? Mornings.
Arriving at the race base camp at Dockweiler Beach I tucked last nights dreaded hair into a baseball cap, stuck my Ipod firmly in my ears, dragged my feet over to the registration table, got my number, and then had to pick up a t-shirt. I hate event t-shirts as noted in this blog numerous times before. Surprise, the smallest size they had was women’s mediums. Note to non-profit coordinators for the 100th time – we hate the t-shirts! They are wasteful, bad for the environment, and ugly as hell, but if you are obsessively compelled to make them (and apparently you are) and find sick pleasure in forcing us to wear them order more smalls and extra smalls especially at a 5k, 10k, marathon races.
Run for the Trees’ purpose was to raise funds for the Amazon Foundation, which was founded in 2009 to acquire and preserve large tracts of the Amazon Rainforest. Fine and good, however, as I waited for the race to begin I noticed something quite disturbing. Between the flyers being handed out, drinks in disposable plastic, and new t-shirts it’s arguable that more waste was produced by this event than trees saved.
Back to the race – I stood there, in the large starting pack, hopping from one foot to the other trying to warm up and calm down at the same time. Two nights before I had run 4.25 miles to test that I could do the distance. I felt great after that run, but I had completed it in an hour. Everyone around me looked like they were serious about racing. Like stretching/warming up serious. They were actually going to run fast! For real. Did they know it was not even 8 am yet on Sunday? I hate being at the back. Okay, I’m a bit OCD about being first. Not good.
The race started and I immediately began to hyperventilate. I had to be first! Had too! Okay that’s not going to happen. It took half a mile to get my breathing under control. I was running too fast. At one mile my stomach cramped and my mouth dried up. I kept thinking, “What the hell is happening? I’m freaking athletic. My stomach hurts too badly. I’m going to have to stop.” Then a few ten year olds passed me. Embarrassing. Then a guy pushing a baby stroller tried to pass me. No sir. No sir. I draw the line at being beat by a human pushing another human.
Finally, I fixed my gaze on the muscular back of the ripped guy in front of me. “He’s going to finish with a good time. And he’s not bad to look at. Stay 10 feet behind him till the end.” And that’s what I did. Pulling up only at the very end to protect my knee from a steep downhill finish I crossed the line in 27:12. Not bad for a first timer. However, because it’s in my DNA to never be satisfied, I’m now pissed I couldn’t finish under 27. Although I consider waking up early and then racing akin to being burned with a hot poker I might have to do that again just to shoot for 26.
P.S. Those stomach cramps turned out to be a stomach virus so I spent the rest of the day curled up on the bathroom floor pressing my head against cold tiles thinking about how I could have gone just a bit faster. Too competitive not to race - not competitive enough to train. It’s a curse.