If my very first run had been anything like the experience I created for myself this morning, I would still be the fat angry snark-slinger I was last summer because I probably wouldn’t have done it again. Other than PR (Personal Record), PB (Personal Best), and DNF (Did Not Finish), I really don’t know any other running acronyms. But if W.R.E. (Worst Run Ever) isn’t already in the lexicon, then it is now. Today’s run sucked. Because I’m an idiot.
“Yes, it made sense, and was so absurdly simple that it would take a genius to think of it. And, perhaps, someone who did not expect to do it himself.” – Arthur C. Clarke
My plan was so simple. Get up at 7 o’clock, run 8 miles at 9 o’clock, have brunch with my mom who was also running this morning, finally write the blog that’s been clawing at my skull for the last four days, and then maybe track down a beer or two later.
It didn’t exactly go down that way.
First I woke up at 6 o’clock for no reason at all. And because I don’t have enough hardship in my life, I immediately started making poor decisions; a trend that would continue for hours.
I normally don’t eat a real breakfast before I run because I don’t want to run on a full stomach. But three hours is plenty of time to have done so. Instead I stuck with my habit of having a bagel with honey about 90 minutes before a run. So I had my vitamin shake when I woke up, tried to find an angle on my blog for a little while, and ate a bagel a little after seven. No problem. I should’ve been fine on my 9 o’clock run. Nice lazy morning so far, right?
I was supposed to meet my mom at nine. She was going to be running for about an hour. My run was supposed to take about 1:15, so I decided to get there a little early so that we’d finish at the same time and then go get some food. I’m such a dreamer. As I was leaving at 8:20, I got a text that she was already there and going to take off because she thought it might take longer than expected. I was confused because I thought she was running for time instead of distance, but no biggie. I’d be there soon enough.
I got to the trail at quarter ‘til nine and she was nowhere to be seen. I got out, filled my water bottle, put in my ear buds, tucked my ipod into my flipbelt, and stashed my keys in the little pocket on my water bottle. It was sunny and warm and I was ready to run. Well, ready except for some quick warm up stretches.
I closed my door so that I wouldn’t hit it with my legs while swinging them back and forth to loosen up my hips and start to wake my heart up a little bit. As I settled into my stretches, I saw it; my water bottle sitting in the passenger seat of my locked car. My water bottle with my keys safely tucked into the pocket in the handle.
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein
There is a huge mental aspect to running and if you were anywhere near southern Chesapeake, VA at about 9:00 a.m, and you were really really quiet, you might have been able to hear my mind shit its pants. I was done right there. It was a wrap. Only because I’m wicked smart, I didn’t actually stop.
I was calm for a second. “Maybe I’ll just go do the run and worry about this after,” I thought. “Nah, I don’t have any water. That’ll suck.” Nope. I was going to wait. My mom’s car was right next to mine. She started early. I’ll just wait until she gets back and then get a ride back to my apartment and get my spare key.
No I fucking won’t; because my house key is on the same ring as my car keys. And in case you’ve forgotten, this genius locked those inside his car.
At that point, I clinched my fist white-knuckle tight and made a low growling sound that would probably be spelled something like arghghghfuckkghghgoddamnmotherfuckergrgrgrgrfuck! It wasn’t pretty, but at least it wasn’t loud either.
Let me make sure I’m painting this picture accurately. I’m standing in a parking lot on an otherwise beautiful morning, wearing running shoes, shorts, a tank top, sunglasses, and headphones. That’s all I’ve got. I’m standing next to a beat up old 4runner with not only my keys, but also my wallet and phone locked inside.
And I was pissed. But it was still no time to stop doing dumb shit.
“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.” – Erich Fromm
Here’s a quick wrap-up of the next hour of my day:
I remembered that I leave my windows cracked under the rain deflectors on my car doors, so I decided to tear the one off of the driver side door where the opening was largest. As I tried to remove it, it of course cracked and broke into pieces, leaving a lovely razor edge that I quickly tested by slicing my thumb open. Suh-weet! Next was a quick little cut to the wrist. At this rate, maybe I could bleed out next to my car while looking at my phone locked inside. I was loving life.
After I finally got that plastic death trap off of my door, I broke a stick off of a tree and learned that pushing the door lock button doesn’t work when you and/or your keys are not in the car or ignition. Not sure which, but it didn’t work. And my frustration level was starting to red-line. All I wanted to do was run, eat, and let that damn blog out of my skull before it started taking hostages.
It was about this time that my mom got back from her run. She had some old windshield sunscreens with metal wire frames that she let me destroy in order to make a hook. I attempted without success to hook my water bottle and drag it to my window where I could get my keys, open my door, and try to rescue the rest of my day. I was 100% able to hook the steering wheel, the parking break handle, and every other plastic bag and piece of clutter in my car. Next time I’ll stash my keys in the trash bag. That thing loved the hook. Have I mentioned that I was slowly losing my mind?
After several failed attempts, more than a few well executed profanities, and my already limited patience fast exhausting itself, my mom did what she does. She fixed things. While I angrily stared at my car window, trying to decide if I would rather break it with my face or my elbow, she went over to some nearby contractors and found an eight-fingered man that was able to do what I could not.
Within 20ish minutes, he’d fashioned a small hook from some heavier gauge steel wire and managed to pull the lock up and open my door. I thanked him as he quickly disappeared refusing to take any money, probably just eager to get the hell away from me. My mind was still completely shot.
“What time is it Mom?”
“Awesome, just about the time I would’ve been done.”
“Don’t confuse poor decision-making with destiny. Own your mistakes. It’s ok; we all make them. Learn from them so they can empower you!” – Steve Maraboli
There’s a reason why NASA will abort a routine rocket launch at the mere chance of a storm. It’s because it is way more important that the rocket actually make it into space than it is that it simply leave earth on time. It’s not the schedule. It’s the goal. Missing the target on schedule is not as good as hitting it a day late.
a rocket scientist.
I debated skipping the run and just going to get some food. But in an effort to continue making bad decisions, I decided to run anyway. I just didn’t want to let one hour of dip-shitery (that’s a word now) throw off my entire day. I knew I wasn’t going to skip the run. And if I pushed it into the afternoon, I knew that I wouldn’t have time to get that blog together. I don’t know why I act like these things are so important. I don’t get paid for them. I don’t have any deadlines. I just like to get the ideas out while they’re fresh. For sanity sake, maybe I should let them ripen a little more from time to time.
Without stretching again, I took off. One mile in, I knew that I was screwed. This was not going to be any kind of relaxing therapy run. This was going to be a run that I was going to have to really pay attention to and concentrate on or I was going to do something sloppy and potentially hurt myself.
Two miles in, I finally stopped and stretched. I decided that after the shitty start to my day and the high probability that my bagel three hours ago wasn’t going to be enough to get through, I should abandon all pace goals and just focus on getting through the run without tripping and falling. Baby steps.
I was definitely going to need the tiny amount of carbs and caffeine from the jelly beans I had, but I was fairly certain that if I didn’t slow down to a walk while eating them that my form would get stupid-sloppy and potentially bang up my ankles. I haven’t had any issues lately, but by then I was running on an injury-prevention mental scheme. Just finish the run without dying and I win.
Three miles in, I knew I should turn around. I felt like shit. And I was running like shit. But I’m hard headed and half stupid, so I kept going. I told myself that it would be one of those mental tests of perseverance that we all have to endure from time to time; maybe even a learning experience.
All I learned is that I’m not a rocket scientist. By the end I wasn’t even sure if I was a runner.
“Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise” – David Zindell
I completely bonked at mile six. I was done. I was walking, dripping with sweat, completely exhausted, and again so frustrated that I almost threw my water bottle into the woods (I had taken my keys out of it by then). Luckily I was still two miles from the car so I had plenty of time to ponder all of the mistakes I made in creating such a mess.
I’ve written a few different times about baby stepping into new ventures and the risks of discouragement that can come from biting off more than you can chew. I’ve written and read about the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity and pain and struggle, both in running and life. But goddamn it. That stuff is all true, but you shouldn’t baby step into a bad idea and decide once you realize how stupid it is that perseverance is the answer. Sure I was smart enough to run easy, stay focused on my running, and walk when I need to take fuel. But I also refused to turn back when I knew I should’ve.
What should I have done? I should’ve aborted the mission as soon as my mind took a dump. I could’ve gotten some food with my mom, settled down a bit, and then run a much better and enjoyable run in the early afternoon. I would’ve had to rearrange my plan a little, but I probably would’ve still been able to get that blog written. Instead I ended up having to share this tale of my very first bonk because it makes me feel better to have others laugh at me when I do something stupid.
“You cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions. Goal setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for perfect conditions.” – Gary Ryan Blair
The worst part, the absolute WOOOORST part of today’s train wreck is that while my training schedule technically started two weeks ago, today was my first run since officially registering for my first marathon. Yep. That’s right. I finally pulled the trigger last night, and today I couldn’t run a measly eight miles. Get ready for it Philadelphia. I’ll be trying not to puke in your streets this November. And if the guy that ran today shows up in the fall, you will be able to reach me by calling directly to the medical tent.
Happy Saturday. Now where are those beers?