Solid weekend doings around here, solid. A better fall weekend there never was, I would argue. Friday saw me tooling in the hybrid down I-10 solo towards our little pied a terre in New Orleans – I was heading towards the city I hate to love for my annual running of the Jazz Half Marathon. This was the fourth annual run – I’ve done the last three, and it’s kind of cool, I think, that I’ve only missed one of them.
I headed into the CBD to pick up my race packet at the newly built Rouse’s grocery store there. One step into the Rouse’s and I felt a deep longing for my old life in the city. Suburban Mobile is so lovely, but it just doesn’t have the population density to support a store that sells artisan cheeses with little chalkboard descriptions, drippy hippy Seventh Generation cleaning supplies, a full aisle of weird and funky grains that you purchase in bulk . . . My husband would roll his eyes and scoff, I think, but I am the store designer’s target audience and I lapped it up. After wandering among the displays for a few glorious minutes, I rode a small and somewhat rickety elevator up to the third floor parking deck, was handed my race packet, and then rode back down and headed out to pick up takeout Vietnamese. Once home at the tiny apartment (really more of an attic room, with ceilings so slanted that an adult cannot stand erect in most of the square footage), I put on a Northern Exposure DVD, chowed down on my pork noodle bowl, and set my alarm for 5:10 am. I settled in for a long night of tossing and turning, checking my phone for the time, and fretting over being late.
At 6:15 am, I rolled over and checked my phone, then blinked and checked it again. What the –?? SIX FIFTEEN??? After all that fretting over being late I ACTUALLY WAS LATE?? The race would start in forty-five minutes. My iPhone alarm had not gone off (it was set to only go off on weekdays, DOH!), and I was never going to find parking at this late of an hour. I raced downstairs to pee and run a wet toothbrush ineffectively around my fuzzy teeth, threw on my clothes, grabbed a Pop Tart and rushed off to the starting line. I made it there with about ten minutes to spare, mascara ringed around my eyes because I hadn’t taken the time to apply eye makeup remover that morning. I hadn’t had any water, hadn’t stretched much . . . it was not an ideal start.
It wasn’t an ideal race, either. First of all, someone turned down the thermostat outside – we went from a high in the 80s on Friday, to a high of 60 on Saturday. I was c-c-c-cold in my tshirt and shorts. In spite of this, for the first 9 miles I was pretty solid, probably running 10 minute miles – I felt strong. I wore Halloween socks, and I ran beside a girl dressed as a pumpkin and three guys wearing rainbow thigh high stockings and colored tutus. For a while I ran next to a man with pictures of his daughter attached to the back of his t-shirt with pins, a lovely girl with long curly hair in all but one of the photos – in that one, she was bald, sitting up in a hospital bed, her father’s arm tight around her shoulders. I touched his sleeve, told him that she was beautiful, and he told me that in the two years since her death at 18, he had raised $9000 for cancer research.
At around mile 10, everything went to hell. It was like someone inserted a crank into my lower back and racked it up tight. Alas, my failure to drink enough, eat enough, and stretch enough before the race was rearing its ugly head. Often the spot where I broke my back gives me trouble – I get back spasms, or a bone-deep throbbing ache that comes and goes. On Saturday at mile 10 and beyond, I experienced the worst symptoms I’ve ever felt – it was like knives stabbing me in the back with every step. I stopped and did some yoga stretches – I stopped several times over the last three miles – but eventually, between miles 11 and 12, I had to stop and walk the rest of the race. Hobble, more like – if I set my teeth just right and turned my neck just so and cocked my hips in the perfect way, I could just barely manage to keep striding forward. It was pretty bad. I finished, in 2:37:34 – a 12:02 minute mile, which tells you how much I slowed down considering I did the first 9 miles at a 10 minute pace. I was number 1763 overall, 948 of all females, and 171 of my age group of 30-34. [So I can have it all in one place, I’m going to note that in 2010 I was number 1573 overall, with a time of 2:35:36 (11:53 min mile), and in 2011 I was number 1415 overall, with a time of 2:21:08 (10:51 min mile)].
Anyway, although this was kind of terrible, it bodes well for my full marathon (in Two! Weeks!) My knees felt great – hips, great – breathing, fabulous – muscles, just fine. I didn’t really fatigue much, I didn’t bonk. But for the back pain, I could have kept going even after mile 13. So I know where my focus will lie in these next two weeks before the full marathon – lots and lots of yoga (downward facing dog, yeah!), lots of focus on releasing that lower back and stretching my hammies and strengthening my core.
*Oh God, I hope I don’t die on the street in Pensacola.*
**I am only $400 or so from reaching my goal. If you have any dollars to spare, would you consider throwing ten or twenty my way?**
Anyway, after the race I headed back to the Tiny Bachelor Pad and had a shower, then headed straight home to my boys. 2 ½ hours later saw me home and sorting out some last minute costumes, as we’d been invited to do a trick or treating thing at the Bellingrath Gardens here just outside of Mobile. I was tired and a titch sore, but I’m so glad we went – we were with a bunch of other kids, the company was great, and the trick or treating at the Gardens was really cool and fun. Jack was a vampire (thank heavens I had a cape in the Halloween box – we just put him in black pants and a button down white shirt and voila! Vampire!) Liam was the pirate that Jack had been a couple of years ago, and he had a great time walking around swinging his plastic sword and telling people “Arrgh, matey!” and “you must walk the plank!”
Sunday we went to church (we’ve picked a church to join, one in Fairhope, AL, and boy do I love it, but more on that later), and then to the grocery, and then home, where the husband and I did approximately fifty seven loads of laundry and I made chili, lentil soup, beef stew, and quiches to freeze for the week. Then I measured the boys for their real Halloween costumes,* and sat down to sew them up while we watched the Saints get destroyed by the Broncos. In short, I was the Queen of Domesticity this lovely fall weekend. (The Professor was the King of Domesticity – dishes, helping with laundry, various lawn stuff, hanging things . . . We love owning this house!)
I have a lot of billable work on my desk, Halloween to look forward to, and a delicious cup of hot coffee by my side. It’s a lovely late October Monday morning.
*Liam has insisted, since August, that he wants to be Frankenstein for Halloween. Jack has wavered over time, but finally firmly settled on wanting to be a bat. When I dressed them as vampire and pirate for this weekend thing, both of them wept with disappointment until I explained that for “real Halloween” they would be their real costumes, Frankenstein and a bat. And then I sat down to ponder just how I was going to create them. Came up with something fun – can’t wait to post the pictures! I do love this time of year.