1st overall in 1:11:04. I registered under the name Kilgore Trout, which is the pseudonym Kurt Vonnegut used for himself in many of his books. Abstract literary references are SO FREAKING GANGSTA. Also, it is kind of a pseudonym inside of someone else's pseudonym.
Up until this point, I had never finished a road race over 10 km without walking. So the thought of a half-marathon was horrifying, but I was buoyed by the beauty and enthusiasm of a very special person who also raced, and ended up winning after registering under the last name 'Butthead'. In an unfortunate case of art imitating life, it was a descriptive pseudonym. The upshot of her deformity is that when you kiss her, you get your daily dose of tossed salad.
|Cookie Monster, you are disgusting.|
Anyway, on Wednesday I found myself stranded at school with no running clothes or shoes. Because it was 70 degrees, I did the logical thing and went to the Duke Athletics practice field, where I proceeded to strip down to my briefs. After realizing that the tuck and run is not as easy as the tuck and stand on Greenwich Villages street corners, I hopped behind the bleachers to turn the briefs around. I then proceeded to run 40 minutes on the field before two baseball players appeared. They gave me curious looks, at which point I had an epiphany--the opening in the briefs, now facing my ship's stern, was agape. YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO DOWN THAT RABBIT HOLE, ALICE. I scurried away somewhat shamefully, but not before getting some strategically situated Vitamin D.*
*Ummmm.......let's forget I ever worded a sentence this way
Off that recovery run, and two other easier days, Ms. Butthead and Mr. Trout traveled to Goldsboro, NC in conditions which would make it much more efficient to travel by ark. I mean, after the all-too-accurate reference to Greenwich Village street corners, it is safe to assume that I was transporting 2 of every STD. Arriving at the race site after coffee, a banana, and penicillin, we went to the registration tent. Apparently Butthead is a common name, because no one made any comments. I guess they assume it was Buttheadowicz before Ellis Island.
15 minute warm-up, strip to shorts, AND THEY'RE OFF!
|A bit bulky. Probably triathletes.|
I think my failures to date at anything over 5k are not due to conditioning, or pacing, but fear. Today, if nothing else, I was not afraid. Though after a few steps in 40 degree rain wearing compression shorts, I realized immediately that certain extremities would seem afraid in the race pictures.
|LIKE A FRIGHTENED TURTLE.|
Alone after a mile, I came to the first of five turnarounds. Retracing my steps and seeing a gorgeous smile, a wave of endorphins neutralized any remaining apprehension, and I made a decision. Go. Opening up the hips and bounding over the gravel road past three miles, my breath assimilated with the mist, while my numb feet fell like phantoms. Freedom. I couldn't tell where my skin ended, and where the air began. I couldn't separate the wandering thoughts from the blowing leaves.
The rest of the race became a blur. I remember crossing the start line at mile 6, and feeling completely fresh. I remember going up a hill at mile 9, and fighting off brief fear of frostbite. That complete numbness in my toes (and other extremity...which was actually very, very scary) created an empowering liberation from normal sensory experience. Every few miles, I would see Ms. Butthead, her breath as controlled as mine, and be hit by sudden, euphoric happiness. There was always someone with me out there, even as I hit the aid stations before they were prepared, even as I crossed the line 12 minutes before the next racer. I am not sure there is a such thing as loneliness anymore....I am not sure there is a such thing as fear....and that--well, that is fucking empowering.
Mouth Vomit Part III: Return of the Bile. Anyway, I had not looked at the watch the entire race, so I was thrilled to see 1:10:xx when I glanced down (I must have messed up a bit when pressing start). Ms. Butthead crossed as 1st woman (5th overall!) in her first ever run of that distance. The extremities thawed from frozen pig-in-a-blanket status. And no one laughed at the awards ceremony when Butthead was announced. This may be evidence that the terrorists have won. Thanks so, so much for reading. You guys are amazing :)