RACE DAY - Pt. 2
After a capable singer does his best with the national anthem, some bodiless stranger's voice booms through the loudspeakers that the race has begun. There is some cheering, but I swear that some of it is only halfhearted...probably that portion of us who are running the marathon. There are dark clouds rising from the desert floor.... wait, I have Springsteen stuck in my head. There ARE dark clouds rising, from the ocean, though. But I do so a promised land ahead.
I try to fool Peter and myself that those dark clouds don't mean a thing and that everything's going to be fine. We pass the electronic mat that reads our computer chip and we're off! It's cold. My legs are a little tight. Peter's exhilarated about his first marathon. We're in this mass of about 1,000 people, and I feel like...like...like it's just another weekend and just another long run in our training.
That's right, I'm not feeling any different than I have during the past six months. What gives? Where's the rush I got in Hawaii? Or the butterflies? Or any kind of adrenaline? I'm a little bummed, to be truthful. Still, I have Peter to keep me company and that should help make the run enjoyable.
Okay, it's pretty cold. My hands are getting into that rigid, locked position and I'm constantly flexing them. Peter and I are having a good time, though; our topical conversation is full of laughter. I don't recall how much I've told you about Peter, but he's from Louisiana and he's a very friendly southerner (even though he's live in California for some time). Almost every sentence contains the colloquialism "y'all". For instance, every time we pass someone cheering us on, he says "Thanks, y'all." I try to thank people as well, but so far he's been doing it for both of us and I don't open my mouth as much. Great, how nice do I come off, now? Anyway, we're having a good time right now. That's the thing about the first few miles of a race (at least, for slow people like me); you have plenty of energy to talk, laugh and meet people, which is what we're doing.
Today we've decided to run a 2/1 (2 minutes running. 1 minute walking). I figure that I'm not out to win this thing, only beat last year's time. And Peter is just out to finish. If I can save my legs, maybe I really can break the 5:39 from Hawaii. I have to, right? I'm not carrying water, the weather is comfortable and I'm avoiding Gatorade and excessive water. Honestly, I’m full of confidence, even a little cocky. That's right, I'm a badass marathon runner, don't mess with me.
These first miles are fairly easy. Although, what were they thinking having the entire first mile UPHILL? I have to say, this isn't the most scenic run, either. San Fran? Lots of cool architecture and a lot of city history. Hawaii? Well, come on, it was Hawaii. Newport Beach? Eh. No offense intended. However, the volunteers are great and really cheering everyone on. It's nice to have that kind of encouragement. Thanks, y'all/
Throughout these 3 miles I continue to poke fun at Peter's poncho. I keep telling him that it's not going to rain and that the extra clothing is really going to become a burden. Yes, the new glasses have made me a meteorologist and now an expert on marathons. We roll past mile three and it's time to shed the long sleeve shirt. My body is warmed up enough and I toss the shirt.
WHOA! What was I thinking? Okay, it's pretty chilly. But I know my body will continue to get hotter and if the weather stays the same I'll be dripping sweat by the end of the 26 miles. Peter joins me by throwing off the poncho. We hum a bit of "Xanadu" before chugging along.