So I blah blah blah’ed yesterday about how participating in a marathon relay is just a really long and lonely way to run 5 miles.
And I stand by that assertion. I fully intend to write some sternly worded letter to somebody who doesn’t care about just how clusterfucky that experience was.
But, truth be told there was something pretty awesome about my five miles.
Nina, my best friend from college is a Runner. She lives in New York and will occasionally throw out suggestions for meeting up with her to do some sort of running thing. Usually, I’m all full of the running-loathe and oh-hells-no, I’m not going to fly to Bamboozle just so I can loathe over there. But when she’s turning up in my backyard to do it, I’ve got to, right?
Turns out her sister, Andrea, was the original source for this Big Sur marathon relay plan and she coerced Nina into creating her own team. So in the end, there were two teams, loosely connected by the sisters.
This was Andrea’s first time racing ever, she hadn’t been working on running for very long, and was planning to run it at a 15 minute/mile pace. Given the sketchiness of my own running endeavors as of late, I figured we’d be a pretty good running pair and agreed to do the first leg with her – me for my team and she for hers.
Which means that even though I had to leave my own team mates behind, I had a pal for the whole experience.
She reaped the benefits of my incessant questioning… “Where are we going?!” and “Why is it so dark out there?”
Probably also “Are we there yet?”
I couldn’t help it. That bus ride was an HOUR. In the dark. And I pretty much had no idea what was going to happen when we got there.
We navigated the shanty town of runners huddled together and camped out on the ground everywhere at the start, like a third world country of privilege. In our efforts to make it to a porta-potty, we picked our way through the sitting-on-the-ground people, following another woman, while a trail of people followed us, pressing ever forward. Taking this path of least resistance, we were funneled to a wall of porta-potties, where we discovered that we had not actually gotten into a pre-existing line, but formed a new one. A new line of 30 people, with no way to turn around and go back. The line next to us, which was using two porta-potties, started throwing dagger death rays at us as they discovered the interloping on their turf. The woman who we’d followed fled the scene. Leaving us to try and make a case for sanity. Lacking previous experience in what you do when other people get all aggro and decree that they are going to forbid us from using their porta-potty, we also left eventually, to seek out yet another line of epic slow going. I really wish that I’d thought to just have a squat right then for those people, leaving them my special good-luck tidings of pee and pre-race poo. Instead, we just left them with a long line of people behind us so that they could, presumably, have the same psychotic argument over and over again.
Bonded by confrontation and the need to pee, we joined the throngs at the starting mob and got ready to run.
And I discovered the best possible motivator: running with someone who’s newer to it than you are. It was not an easy 5 miles and it was hard for her. Which isn’t to say that it was a yawn for me – it wasn’t – but helping Andrea to do it made me do it. Made me keep going when I might have otherwise just gotten into a little grump and start walking. Made me find a milestone to which we would walk to (on the few breaks we took) and deem that we would start to jog again at that point. Made me sing, terribly and loudly, and with all the wrong words. Made me point out the obvious, regularly… like “we’re almost to the top of this hill!” and “look! another nice long downhill again!” Made me tell her stories of lunacy about how I birthed a child directly into the Indian ocean in Bora Bora in a house on stilts with a floor that opened to the water below. It made me tell her that lots of people think that they can’t do this. But that it’s not about can’t. It’s just hard.
Trying to motivate someone else was the best possible motivator for me and those 5 miles just melted away.
This bonded and motivational running caper also resulted in fancy photos of me, the likes of which have never existed before.