Last night, I had wanted to go out to dinner at The Olive Garden for carbo-loading of the tastiest kind. Unfortunately, YaYa’s friends arrived at our home filled with so much enthusiasm that I couldn’t break it up. An hour and a half later, since I had not planned to prepare dinner, we picked up some pasta at a more casual Italian joint. We sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as we drove homeward with our grub.
After dinner, I wandered aimlessly about the house preparing for my race. l secured the timing chip to my shoe, pinned my race number on my shirt, and laid my clothes out. Downstairs, Ms. Garminia was doing her own version of loading up. With everything race ready, I set my alarm and went to bed to dream of running.
The alarm was sounding before I knew it. I crawled out of bed wondering what had possessed me to sign up for another half marathon. I pulled on my running gear and lay back on the bed hoping that 5 minutes more of rest would provide me with what I needed to hit my goal. And then I woke up.
• Realistic goal: Break 2 hours
• Stretch goal: Finish around 1:50
Ultimately, my true goal for the day was to finish the race uninjured. I planned to run the first half conservatively at my long run pace. After this point, I would evaluate and, if feeling good, I would pick up the pace to finish out with a negative split and possibly hit my time goal. It wasn’t a brilliant race strategy but this run was NOT my “A race”.
Before long, I was standing in a mass of enthusiastic runners waiting for the race to start. This race is called the Jungle Run, however there is nothing even remotely jungle-like about it. Nothing jungle-like, unless you consider that saying, “It’s a jungle out there.”
There were a couple of runners in caveman and woman costumes. As for me, I was going with the green theme. Not the sort of green that would act as any sort of camouflage. Any shade of green would not have achieved that task. I would have had to be wearing gray with a broken yellow line to achieve that affect. I was thinking more to the effect of green means go.
The race started, and we were off (sort of). We went slowly at first, then up the hill, and finally…we were running. I found a spot in the pack were I could settle into a comfortable pace. The course took us on the local streets. The cone zone consisted of gutter and cambered road. I hovered along the cone line, nervous of every twinge and ache from my ankle and feet. Then, somewhere along the line, my aches and pains went away leaving me to just run.
The race was now off the street and moving along an all too well-traveled bike path. The morning walkers, runners, and cyclists were sharing the path (albeit reluctantly) with us. I cheerfully bid them “good morning” and received nothing in return. Finally, after many of these interactions, I gave without expectation, and I began receiving responses in return.
At about mile 8, I became aware of the 10K stragglers mixing in with us on the course. Or were we mixing in with them? Anyhow, the walkers seem to enjoy traveling in multiples abreast. It made for a bit more maneuvering to pick up the pace. Just past mile 10, the 10K runners headed off in a new direction while we traveled in the opposite direction of the finish line.
These miles were on dirt, and my legs rejoiced while my mind wondered if we would be running UP the steep hill prior to turning around. The quicker runners were moving past in the other direction. Passing was again a feat of timing and speed. I did my best to move at my own pace.
Up ahead, three cones divided the path. I let out a “yaw hoo” as I made my u-turn and headed back towards the finish. Picking up the pace just a little more as I went, I finally crossed the finish at 2:01:06, uninjured, and happy.