29 September 2012

My Big Run, Part II: Speed, Banana Cannibals, and World War I

Note from the Blogger: This is the second -- and EXTREMELY LATE -- edition in a potentially interminable series on my first half marathon. To see my previous post, go here.

Everything I'd ever heard about preparing for a long run told me to pace myself. I knew that if I didn't limit myself early in the race, I'd have nothing left to give later on. In short, the end would be miserable. So I did what any reasonable, forward-looking person would do: I ran too fast anyway.

Sure, it's stupid, but think about it. What would you do if, in 90 days, you'd gone from an out-of-shape couch potato to an out-of-shape couch potato who can run a half marathon? You'd be tempted to think of yourself as an exception, wouldn't you? You might even harbor delusions of invincibility. Not making excuses; just telling you why it happened.

The good news is that my first 5k, and even my first 10k, were the best I'd run in years. Not fast, mind you, but faster than I was used to. And with good reason. I was in a huge pack of runners, most of them much better than me, running through some of my favorite parts of Kansas City. What's not to motivate?

For example, my very favorite part of the city (maybe of the state - it IS Missouri, after all) is the Liberty Memorial, which houses an excellent World War I museum. Just being near it always energizes me.

However, not all was sweetness and light. It just so happens that the memorial is situated on a hill. A very steep hill. Which, for those of you who are keeping score, is a difficult thing for a runner. Not impossible or anything, but definitely a cause for breathing hard.

What a hill it was! It seemed like it kept going. And going. And going. Just when I thought I'd reached the top, I'd run around the corner, and lo! Another bit of hill. It was probably the most exhausting thing I'd experienced in months.

And so I was glad to be overtaken by the Banana Man. He handed me what he said was his last banana, mentioned something about potassium and muscle cramps, and sprinted on by, shouting over his shoulder that he had to catch up with his "bunch."

The question you're probably asking yourself is: "When he gave that last banana away, did he stop being the Banana Man?" The answer is no. Because he was still wearing an enormous banana suit. Yes, that's right: a man in a cumbersome banana suit was able to run up to me, give me a banana, carry on half of a conversation, and SPRINT PAST ME. Stupid hill.

Shortly thereafter, I learned why the Banana Man was running so fast: I saw a gorilla, intent on chasing him down, sprint by me as well. Or maybe it was a man in a gorilla suit; he, too, was running MUCH faster than me. The one good part about the hill was that I caught up with a friend who was going even slower than me. This gave me a good excuse to slow down EVEN MORE while chatting with her.

As I (FINALLY) crested the hill and approached the checkpoint near Liberty Memorial, I wondered about that Banana Man. How many bananas did he start with? Did he eat any of them himself? And if so, would that make him a cannibal? If it did, would he be subjected to trial by a jury of his peers? And wouldn't that make a great cartoon?

Questions, questions, questions. But they shall have to wait for another time, dear reader, for we are out of blogspace for today.

Until next time...

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