RACE DAY- CONTINUED
I have a new plan. All of this surface street running is going to be murder on my feet and knees. Any chance I get, I’m going to run on the grass or dirt, such as this nice long stretch of lawn on the median to my right. Oh, that’s nice. Much softer. Yes, a good plan. Peter decides to stay on the street. I think he’s fearful that he might twist his HOLY @*%#!. THAT HURT!
I just twisted my left ankle. Ohhhhhhh. Mmmmph! Same one as in Honolulu.
It’s okay. Run it off. Run it off.
“Y’okay?” Asks Peter.
Sure. I do this all of the time. I’m surprised my foot is still attached to my leg. It’ll be fine in a couple of minutes
Over the course of the next mile, while I limp on my tweaked ankle (and pain throbs up my calf), I comment to Peter how much better it is to have a running companion. During the Santa Clarita run I had my MP3 player full of 5 hours of music. But some of those songs are too personal for a day like today. Nature is bringing me down. The gray skies, the cold air…if I wasn’t running I’d be holed up in the house watching a movie with the kids.
God, I miss those two right now. I need to see their smiles. I need to hear their laughs. How can so much love come out of two little bodies?
If I were to hear Badly Drawn Boy’s composition “I Love NYE” from ABOUT A BOY, I would lose it. It’s this beautiful instrumental from the soundtrack to the film. I used to listen to this song and release a great many tears when Jacob was hospitalized the first time, especially at the end with the strings begin to build. As I’d drive to the hospital, I’d get the sadness out just so I could put on a strong front when I was with him. How did Julie stay so strong during that period? I was a wreck.
Peter is a good ear. I tell him a lot of this stuff when we’re running. I can’t believe how much I’ve opened up to him these past months. And he’s a compassionate man.
“Do you want to stop?” He asks as I continue to walk with a limp.
“No, it’ll pass.”
I believe this. There are bigger pains ahead and I don’t want Peter to have to run this thing by himself. As long as we’re together and we have this huge crowd around, we can feed off the energy of everyone and we’ll be fine. Who am I kidding? I’ll be fine. Peter’s doing great.
By the time we pass mile 5, the two of us have settled into long periods of silence while we’re running. Already, this race is tougher than Hawaii. I have a distinct thought: This is NOT as much fun as Hawaii. It’s going to be long day. But I’ve trained better than I did last year. I’m more prepared. We can do this.
Julie calls for the first time. Man, it’s good to hear her voice. In the background, the kids are watching “Higglytown Heroes”, their new favorite show (catchy theme song by They Might Be Giants, by the way). Neither of them wants to say hi. Can you blame them? Who wants to talk to their dad, huffing and puffing, when they can watch day glo animation?
I make plans to call Julie back at mile 13. I predict that I’ll have a rough idea of around what time I should be completing this race.
“At least it’s not raining.” I say.
She hangs up and it’s just me and Peter and the 200 folks in front of us and the 200 folks behind us. Up ahead, a volunteer begins directing runners in two different directions. It’s the split between the half marathon and the full marathon. The half marathoners are waved to the left and we are told to run to the right. And just like the mass exodus after a bad Starship concert (did they REAALY build that city on rock and roll? I think not), the 200 in front of us splinter off to the left.
What the? Wait a minute! As we veer to the right, I look back. The 200 behind us have gone left! No! So much for feeding off of the energy of a big crowd. Whereas we were in the middle of the pack, Peter and I are now near the end of the race. The stragglers. Great, just great. The race just got longer.
I know, I know, I’m not out to win the race; I’m just out to finish it. I’m doing this for Jake. My mantra calms me down and we pass mile six.
And, as if on cue, the rain begins.