Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Faster Than A (injured) Kenyan

On Saturday morning, my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 4:15 am. I love getting up early in the morning, but even that is a little ridiculous for me.

Actually, that's a lie. I don't love getting up in the morning. I like sleeping in. If we're being honest, I like staying in bed until I am actually bored of sleeping. I get up
early in the morning because there is a little general inside my head that starts reciting my to-do list at around the time the sun rises. 

Anyway, the reason my alarm was set for such an outrageous time was that the Hollywood Half Marathon was to take place at 6 am that very morning. I heard about the race a few days before and wasn't planning on entering, but my Dad cajoled me into running it with my brother, and when he offered to pay the entry fee, I couldn't turn it down. Even though I've never won ANYTHING, ever, I love racing, so immediately I was really excited about. There's nothing I like more than getting together with ten thousand other people at the crack of dawn to sweat and publicly display how masochistic we can really be.

Also, I am very competitive. This is not limited only to things that are appropriate or even realistic to be competitive about, but also extends to things like, "Hmmm, I wonder if I can fix my coffee faster than the guy who is standing in front of me in line at the coffee shop,"
The competition.
...or when I'm on a run, "Wow. I bet I can pass that guy I see in the distance before this song on my iPod is over. Yeah, the one in the wheelchair." I know, it's neurotic.

The night before the race, I had to go to my job waiting tables. They let me go after  7 because it was so slow in the bar, and I should have gone home and went immediately to sleep. Instead, I went over to a friend's house where I ate my weight in peanut butter (hint: that's a lot), berries, and goat yogurt. While goat yogurt is vile, peanut butter is just about my favorite food. Directly on a spoon, no need for a vehicle such as a cracker, or piece of bread. See below for reference.

When I fell into a peaceful slumber four hours before I was supposed to wake up, I begrudgingly recognized that despite the intense physical and mental preparation I may put into something, my gift of self-sabotage knows no bounds.

But, surprise! I woke up at 4 feeling less like killing myself than I expected. After driving to Hollywood, I got to the race 45 minutes early. I hate arriving at a race too early, because you are tired enough that you want to powernap in your car before it starts, but  the five-hour energy shot you took before you brushed your teeth will not allow for that to happen.  So instead, I tried to employ some creative visualization, picturing myself racing and wanting to give up, but instead going faster, and pushing harder.

Anyway, I did well! My hard work and training is definitely paying off. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:37.

The most thrilling part of the race was that I beat a Kenyan, which I don't think I've ever done before. Never mind the fact that he was severely injured and had to stop in the medic tent for half an hour at mile 4. I still beat him! After the race, I sat down next to him, and struck up a conversation while we ate bananas.

 I would mention his name but I'm afraid he would be upset that I was broadcasting his epic failure on-line. See, he finished the race with about the same time as me, so he made sure that I knew that it was absolutely the worst race he had ever run. He elaborated further, saying that he knew he was ruined when he was passed first by an American, and then by a girl.

 In fact, he was so embarrassed that at one point he moved his race number from the middle of his shirt to his chest, so he could cover the writing that said "Kenya", because he was ashamed to be representing his country.  While normally I would never, ever make fun of someone for a racing time that they weren't proud of, I really couldn't pass up this opportunity. I will probably never, ever beat an elite Kenyan runner ever again. So, I told him that he didn't look very Kenyan to me, and that if he was Kenyan, I probably was too. Because Kenyans don't get beat by American girls. 

He seemed to be amused, but then he upped the stakes, and he asked me if I wanted to go running with him. And because I'm from Southern California and I'm trained to say "yes" to every invitation, even when I don't mean it, I said that I would love to. I didn't have any intention of going. (Just being honest.)

 But, now that it's several days later and I'm thinking about what I should do to push myself to the next level, I'm like, "Why the heck not?" Yeah, the thought of a hardcore athlete running me into the ground and showing me just how high the bar is raised for some people is totally terrifying and uncomfortable, but it might be good for me.

Eating humble pie is a healthy option for an overfed ego, and nothing pushes me more than someone much faster than me showing me how it's done. So, I'm going in a couple days to experience what it is like to run with a pro. I am horrified, but pretty sure that there's going to be a good story in there somewhere. It will probably involve me thoroughly embarrassing myself.

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