The blogosphere is full of weirdos, cat-gentlemen, and Craig’s List posters. In the milieu of what can be a terrifying and terrifyingly unfunny land, there is an oasis, a sweet haven of laughter and quality humor writing that is called The Byronic Man.
I asked the proprietor of this quality weblog to guest post for Snotting Black, another hilarious and altogether exceptional humor blog, on the topic of “I immediately regret doing this.” He came through in spades and sweat. Read on. And then go to his blog. And then come back to mine. Then get a sandwich.
I ran in a half-marathon a couple weeks ago, called the Haulin’ Aspen (Get it? It’s a pun!). I enjoy running and have done one half-marathon before, but would not ordinarily have considered running in this one because it is notorious for being one of the toughest trail races in the area. Very dirty. Lots of hills. Sharp switchbacks, some of which are very narrow and on jagged rock. A rollicking good time, right? But a friend suggested is a kind of group activity, so, hey, I figured, why not. We’d tough our way through this thing together. Toast our awesomeness with a beer afterward. So I signed up.
Short version: I wound up being the only one who actually signed up for the race. Call this Bad Omen/Regret Milestone #1.
That morning turned out to be the hottest day this summer. It was hot before we even started running, and a number of people stood around muttering, “I thought we’d get at least a little time before we were actually too hot.” Bad omen/Regret Milestone #2.
I had run the course a couple times before, which was helpful, and made me in to a prophet of wisdom and faith beforehand as we milled around the starting line. “You’ve seen the course?” two women asked. “Is it as bad as they say?” “Yea,” I replied, “Verily, it is true that there is about two and a half miles of straight uphill in full sun, but thou must have faith that an aid station waits at the end with Gatorade and gel packs.”
Side note: those gel packs they give runners – if you’ve ever seen those – why are they all like ‘chocolate cream’ and ‘apple cinnamon’? Who the hell’s jogging along in the heat and thinking, “Man, a big piece of grocery store pie would really hit the spot right now”?
Then we started running and immediately closed in to a narrow, dusty path. Vision obscured. Dirt inhaled. Sun pounding.
It was pretty immediately clear: I’d made a mistake. This would not be the last time I’d have this thought. The heat was brutal, the dirt was thick (there would come a moment where I’d blow my nose and dirt would come out. Not brown mucus – dirt).
There were definite stretches where things were looking up… until they looked up for that two and a half miles in full sun on the hottest day in the summer. We can call that the Turning Point from “Regret Milestone” to “Mother F***er…”
The kicker of this race is that trails aren’t quite long enough, so you get so close to the end that you could hit the people crossing the finish line with a rock (which was tempting), and it’s directly in front of you… and you take a sharp right to run another mile and a half. Now that’s just mean.
I finished, so I suppose there’s that. I’ve done one before, and on that one when I hit the 12-mile mark I kicked into gear for that last mile. Hoo-ah, and all that. This one when I hit the 12-mile mark I was puttering, thinking of activities I might take up besides running, and trying to remember the signs of heat stroke. I was not alone. We looked like that moment in the horror movie when the protagonist looks out the window and sees the zombies shambling down the street.
But I made it. I didn’t even check my time, I just stumbled around looking for fluid – water, beer, vinegar, mustard, whatever. I did have a beer, but there was no toasting of personal awesomeness, only the desperate need for fluid and carbohydrates and, hopefully, death.
I’m proud of myself for getting through it… but I keep waiting to think, “Ah, I’m glad I did it.” And… I’m still waiting…