My Saturday long run was pre-empted by a Friday night of Trenton Thunder baseball, and the binge drinking bad dietary decisions that inevitably ensue. Fuck it, I figured, it’s the playoffs! Hal Higdon would forgive me for taking an extra hangover rest day. Or would he?
Saturday was spent being a good and repentant boy. Lady Legs-o-Lead prepared a lovely, healthful dinner for us, which was low in fat and laden with carbs, but not exactly light on fiber, either.
This is what is referred to in literary circles as “foreshadowing.”
At 4:45 am, after a nudge to the back that gets a little less polite with each absurdly early weekend alarm, I staggered out of bed, geared up, and toed the line for my third half marathon. It was exactly like running a sanctioned race. Except there was no expo. No swag bag. No technical shirt. No camaraderie. No wacky signs along the course. No finisher medal. No random strangers, calling you by name and offering encouragement. Not even sunlight, until about the 7-mile mark. No fun. No nothin’. Other than that, it was exactly like a real half marathon.
On the other hand, there was no line for the Porta-Potty. No Porta-Potty, for that matter. No nervous energy. No emotions. Just 13.1 miles of asphalt, the occasional deer, and the occasional car passing me too closely on a too-narrow road. Just run, fatty.
And run, I did. A half is such a different animal when it’s just another training session, as opposed to this monumental achievement you’ve been training toward for four months, when you’ve never logged more than ten miles in your life, and have no idea if you’re going to break down a quarter mile from the finish. Today, I just ran, ran, and ran some more, until I arrived at home, a sweaty mess that was about 30 seconds away from leaving an ungodly mess in a place where it definitely did not belong.
I don’t know if this is a function of age or what have you, but on-demand bowel evacuation at 5:00 am is just not something I’m capable of doing…unless I ate at White Castle the night before. I gave it a half-hearted try, but threw in the TP and hoped for the best.
About 45 minutes into my jaunt, I felt the slightest twinge in my lower abdomen, at which point a track from the immortal Deep Purple jumped the queue in my mental jukebox. “Feel it coming / It’s knocking at the door / You know it’s no good running / It’s not against the law / The point of no return / And now you know the score / And now you’re learning / Ah-ha, what’s knocking at your back door.”
Visions of Grete Waitz danced through my head.
I can and have suffered this sensation through much shorter runs, but I was nowhere near the halfway point when this pile of pasta, lentils, and assorted veggies requested liberation from my lower gastrointestinal tract. This was not the running partner I was hoping for. In the tenth mile, I noticed that the health club was coming up on my left. But alas, they would not open for another 20 minutes. No good.
Mind over brown matter, I repressed all thoughts of such delights as Snickers bars, brownies, or chocolate soft-serve ice cream (I was hungry. Get off me, OK?). Thinking about anything else – even about how being hit by a bus would put me out of my misery – I managed to battle the waves of…urgency, and find my way to my porcelain throne, even remembering to grab a Sunday paper first!
Lesson learned: Start later, or eat better the day before.