Monday, July 16, 2012

January 2010 update

Dear One and Only, Single, and Unique Follower of my Blog, Revered Spirit and Not Ghost,
Sorry to let you down with so few entries since June 2009! How bored and dejected you must have been. My apologies are as sincere as my followers are numerous. But anyway.

To recap: 2009 saw me covering the distance in six marathons: 1. Tampa, FL (Gasparilla Distance): 1 March 2009; 2. Frederick, MD: 3 May 2009; 3. York, PA (Inaugural Bob Potts marathon): 31 May 2009; 4. Seattle, WA (Inaugural Rock'n'Roll): June 27, 2009; 5. Mesa Falls, ID: 22 August 2009; 6. Boulder City, NV (Inaugural Hoover Dam marathon): 31 October 2009.

FREDERICK MARATHON. After the Tampa Bay Gasparilla marathon in soggy, cold, windy Florida, it was time to stay close to home and revel in the beautiful spring weather that we enjoy in these parts in early May. Accordingly, I signed up for a marathon in my home state of Maryland ("America in Miniature"--hmmm, who thought that one up?), the Frederick marathon. My wonderful friend and erstwhile running coach Harold agreed to be my chauffeur for this expedition. By the way, the man is a machine: he hadn't run a stitch in months (no more than 12 miles since December) and was going to attempt the full 26.2 cold turkey (and he succeeded--especially the cold part--not the turkey!). So at 5 a.m., way before dawn cracked (into a miserably cold, windy, and rainy day) the Jag picked me up at the Home Depot on Shady Grove Road. When we arrived in the vicinity of Frederick, cars were already backed up, snaking all the way from the Fairgrounds to Interstate 270. As soon as we had parked on the grass, we headed for the powder rooms. Sheesh! It was dark as heck in those porta-johns.

One thing about this marathon business is that you have to be very aware, as a blind person would be, of the stuff you have with you, at all times. One year a friend who was driving a bunch of us to and from the Cherry Blossom 10-miler lost her car key in the john. That was one totally irretrievable key and a long way back home. But I digress.

It was not raining yet when we lined up, but boy was it dark, even after the sun rose. And fairly cold, 60 degrees, which is a good temperature for running as long as it stays dry. Everyone was chatty, as usual.
The course goes through old town Frederick for a bit, which is pretty and quaint and worth a visit under less rushed circumstances. Alas, rain started pouring at mile 3. Yuck. Soon we were out in farmland, trudging along on highways, one of which is the old National Highway, a scenic highway or by-way, which I am sure I will check out on a prettier day (and in a car) (with a nice hot cappuccino). Old-timey silos and barns, fields, very picturesque. I'll bet on a better day I would have seen some wildflowers too, which on this day the rain and mud probably drenched. The wind started picking up. It got colder. In the Wal-Mart parking lot I peed behind the dumpster. Hey, when it's that cold, you void. A few people were out cheering the runners, and I cannot be thankful enough for the brave souls who manned the water stations in that nasty weather. "Keep it up!" one spectator shouted enthusiastically at some point. "Keep it up?" responded a guy. "I can't even get it up! Too cold!" Harold, bless his heart, kept me entertained with his running commentary and snappy one-liners to the few lookers-on. But soon the spectators thinned out as the rain drummed onto our shivering frames.

We fell in step with "Barefoot Todd" or "Ted," an amazing runner based in California, but originally from around here, who runs marathons, well, barefoot (duh). I kept looking at the debris on the roadside and the pointy gravel and wondering how thick the soles of his feet must be. Maybe I should try it.

At the half-marathon point it got a bit crowded and confusing, because we couldn't tell in which direction we FULL marathoners were supposed to go. An innocent bystander pointed helpfully as we stopped and looked around, forlorn, for signs. "I think it's that way for you folks." Luckily, he was right. It's always nerve-wracking when you're barely halfway there and most of the people around you are half-marathoners and they are DONE and the crowd is CHEERING and bunches of runners are staggering around with huge smiles, wrapped in medals and mylar, stuffing cheese pizzas into their pie holes, and you have another 13.1 to go and you are friggin' LOST. (Note to race directors: have pity on the dummies who are doing the longer distance! Have the half-ers diverge early on and never cross our paths again!)

Then the hills began in earnest, the lovely rolling hills of Maryland. We ran down to the gently flowing Monocacy and then back up from the Monocacy into some vapid developments (note to race directors: lose this part--it's ugggly!). Hideous houses, horrible hills!
At mile 17 Harold announced a misbehaving knee, some general fatigue, and possibly some GI issues and sternly enjoined me to go on ahead without him. With a heavy heart and much sobbing I left him to his fate, caught up with Barefoot guy, lost Barefoot guy again, cursed the rain that was turning my toes into prunes, and slogged on. I had to stop several times and stretch due to a knee that was acting up, probably in a hypochondriac psychosomatic bout of empathy with Harold's knee. The wind kept blowing and I really felt it on the open road in the last few miles. I swear it was getting colder and colder. By the time I finally made it through the finish line, my teeth were actually chattering! I was in shorts and singlet and soaked to the bone. My shirt said "Will Run for chocolate," but at this point I was running for Survival, although a hot chocolate would have been nice too, come to think of it.

I finished in 5h06. I collected my medal, which is a nice piece of hardware featuring the famed steeples of Frederick with the sky cut out. Harold trailed in soon thereafter. Got some Sunflower chips and a banana, and then, because we were so cold, we bee-lined to the Jag across a sodden field, water up to our ankles. In an uncharacteristically prescient manner I had packed a complete change of clothes and shoes. Note to my mother if she is reading this: Harold has perfected the art of changing outside his car with perfect adherence to the concerns of modesty, and I managed to do the same inside the car.
Ah, how nice to have heated leather seats for the ride back home! I had run this as a "training run" and could start tapering for the Pennsylvania marathon, where for the love of God please let it not rain!
So that was STATE No. EIGHT. Only 43 more to go!

Apologies for Tardiness to My Two Followers

 Dear Two Followers of my bloviating blog: I am planning an update. Been kinda busy the last two years, what with being an old Babe in College again. I've made a little progress in my Marathoning across the 50 states + DC. As of 4/21/12 I have 19 states (+DC) under my fuel belt. SoooooOOOO, I have to tell you about all those other states I just nailed: the Dakotas! Kansas, Land of Oz marathon (yes, really)! My first ULTRA in Oklahoma! On, on and on in Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin! Maryland, my Maryland! Louisiana: Laissez les bons temps Rock'n'Rouler in New Orleans, mon chou. Mon beignet au sucre! Wait, there's more. I figure I'll get to posting stuff sometime before school starts again on August 20. For now, I'll just put up a few pics from my new abode, New Mexico, just because.
This is the view towards the mountain from my office window.
That faint blue haze in the background--that's the Mountain.
This is Alix posing as an Odalisque on a blow-up bed in my "office" when I had
 just moved into  Rockin' Cottonwood Ranch.
Note the handy orange Ikea toolbox on the floor--a lifesaver!

The first thing to do in Albuquerque is to take the Tramway up to the top of the Sandias. Great view! (View towards the south here.) And below is just another mind-boggling sunset...