Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Profiles in Running: Bayshore Edition

I did not run a race this weekend.

However, I was spectating a race, the Bayshore Marathon. So who had it tougher: the runners or spectators? I think we all know. Me.

As I’ve mentioned, there were 3 Steers LDP members running Bayshore this weekend. One was breaking his marathon cherry, one was desiring just to finish on limited training, and one was hoping to set a PR in a push for a future BQ attempt.

For those who’s spouses are not runners, you know what it’s like to drag your significant other to race events, make them get up at ungodly early hours, and then post race, listen to nonstop recaps of every mile including where you placed your body glide and where you should have placed your body glide. Really, I feel for the non-running spouse having to deal with this.

Now, try dragging your spouse out of bed at 5 AM so she can go down to help you cheer on other folks running the race. Ah, Mrs. Nitmos is quite the trooper. I won’t say she was smiling the whole time. But there was a smile in their somewhere. She was only pretending to be tired and completely disinterested. And pretending well.

We saw the Steers crew at the start and then again near the 7 mile mark. Each one were evenly spaced and looked strong. Each seemed to be on course for the performance they were expecting.

Bayshore is a small town marathon on a beautiful stretch of road heading out a peninsula on a down and back course. It’s a pure runner’s race (i.e. not a lot of surrounding hoopla and little spectator support) so it’s a bit more mentally challenging than some of the larger races. It’s a great place, though, to set a PR due to its largely flat topography.

Mike and I had discussed the possibility of my pacing him to the finish from the 20 mile mark if he thought he was close to BQ’ing. As he approached Mrs. Nitmos and I at the 20 mile mark, he looked winded but still moving pretty well. Upon seeing us, he stopped for the first time in the race and indicated he didn’t have a BQ in him today. After a swig of my Gatorade (I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had been putting out my cigarettes in it all morning*), he walked off down the road. I stood there watching him walk away in a bit of a quandary. Sure, the BQ was out….but not a PR or a strong finish. He kept on walking. He was nearing a ¼ mile away and still walking so I took off to catch up (leaving Mrs. Nitmos alone to drive back to the finish. I’m sure this made her already big smile grow that much wider! They call spouse’s like her Runner’s Widows, right?)

Mike was game to keep running but clearly he was struggling. We pressed on. He shed his Garmin and pacing bands. He didn’t want to think about anything. I’ll leave the details of his race to his own report. Suffice it to say, I answered my own personal question: would you carry your friends twenty mile race soaked running shirt if he wanted you to? Sadly, the answer was Yes. Yes, I would (and did). Check out his recap when he ever gets around to posting it. And please beg him to include the exciting climatic finish in his recap.

At the finish, I veered left instead of right into the final lap on the high school track. It just didn’t seem fair to accept a race medal for not actually running the race…or paying the entry fee. I debated it but think I made the right choice. Besides, if I wanted one later, I could always beat up one of the more gaunt looking exhausted runner’s in the finishers area and take their medal. What are they going to do about it all depleted in electrolytes and rubber legged? It’b be cartoonish watching them defend themselves. I’d probably do the one arm on their forehead thing while they swung away with weak empty blows towards my midsection as I cackled away gleefully.

A few thoughts struck me though as I ran bandit style in the most painful miles of the marathon. First, selfishly, I have to say it felt great to hit mile markers 21, 22, etc feeling like a million bucks. If only I could feel that way in an actual race after actually running 20 miles before hand. Everyone else was moaning and shuffling down the road. What’s their problem?

Second, seriously, there is a real quiet dignity in moving amongst a group of runners determined to fight the pain and mental breakdown to find their finish line. You don’t notice it when you are a marathoner in that group as – at that point – you are so inward focused you can barely recognize anything going on around you. The looks on the folks faces are truly inspiring. Pure determination, concentration and drive.

Third, I was struck with how everyone has their own story at each race. Each has goals and dreams. While Mike was expressing dissatisfaction that he didn’t run the race he had hoped, I could hear others simultaneously thrilled that their race was going so well. Another reminder that each runner carries with them a story that unfolds in 26 chapters.

Alas, I didn’t get to see Steer B.R. or Lisa finish which was disappointing. As they were all coming over to my folks place for post-race food, I needed to take off immediately after running into the finish and head out to pick up some food supplies. It somehow didn’t seem right to feed them all stale Corn Pops.

It was interesting to see the reactions of the 3 Steers later that day. With marathon cherry popped, Steer B.R. seemed thrilled (and experiencing the normal “I’m never running one of those again” first marathon emotions. Give it a few weeks…then start getting ready for Detroit in the fall!!) Steer Mike had mixed emotions. He had his most painful marathon experience. Steer Lisa seemed a bit disappointed but, considering the training level, an expected outcome. I'm proud of them all as each did the best they could on that day.

The marathon brings out the emotions like no other race.

Just ask Mrs. Nitmos.

* I don't smoke.

Congratulation to NWGDC for his vomit soaked BQ!!!

By the way, I opted for the "PC" sign saying "Run Like A Kenyan" which garnered a few chuckles from the runners. The most common response? "Yeah, I wish".


MizFit said...

In a serious vein (for once) this is what makes me keep thinking I shall one day do a marathon:
The looks on the folks faces are truly inspiring. Pure determination, concentration and drive.

Ive cheered so many on to the finish and those faces ARE beyond inspiring.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

Wow, you really are a good guy. Nice work. :D (I really wasn't in questions, just teasing you)

Xenia said...

You are a good friend. And Mrs. Nitmos is a saint. You really need to do something nice for her...and taking the garbage out doesn't count.

RazZDoodle said...

So this is like a non-running, pseudo-race report, huh?

Marcy said...

Good God, I've never spent so much time trying to comment. Freekin Blogger!

Oh my gawd. Poor Poor Mrs Nitmos. You must be paying her out something on another end. No woman would put up with that :P And don't tell me it's all because of love, roses, and rainbows nonsense.

Kevin said...

What, no gimme your IPOD before they DQ you sign?

You are a great friend to go out there and cheer them on

P.O.M. said...

Mrs. Nitmos is a saint.

Viper said...

You've grown weak! This post is almost inspiring. Almost.

sRod said...

I'm always impressed at the amount of four-letter words that flood my vocabulary those last six miles. It's really quite spectacular.

KimsRunning said...

What a sweetie you are to run the last leg with your friend. Very, very nice of you!

I will be posting my run from this morning sometime tonight, but I wish you had an email button in your blog so I could at least tell you what happened without taking up all your comment space with my own happenings!!!

Nitmos said...

Thanks everyone for saying so but the point is that I benefitted from the experience from seeing first hand (and lucid) the battle of wills in the final stages of a marathon. I say "thank you" to Mike and the other anonymous runners for letting me spy on them!!

Marci said...

I think I have to try running from mile 20 to 26 - maybe it will help mentally to see these markers in a different way. I can only imagine how inspiring it was to see the pain and determination on finishers faces. Good post!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I have heard of a running sherpa and a triathlon sherpa...but I have never heard of a running spectator sherpa. I think Mrs. Nitmos needs a special recognition medal for that one.

Eric Gervase said...

You definitely have a good one there (wife that is). I think I'd like to see 20-26 in a different way as well... Instead of "ooh, ouch, f*%#, crap, that's gonna hurt for a long time. Yikes.. Is that supposed to do that?"

Ovens2Betsy said...

Next time definitely tell your friends about the cigarettes in the Gatorade, at least the brand. That way they can choose to train with that brand. (Remember -- nothing new on race day).

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Mrs. Nitmos got up to cheer on OTHERS racing? You've got a keeper.

I'm not surprised the "Run Like a Kenyan" sign got a few laughs. I'd probably say the same thing "Yeah, I wish!"

Viv said...

You are so awesome for running with you friend those last miles!!

You had me rolling saying what's their problem. LMAO!

BTW, this post reassured me I am NOT ready to pop the marathon cherry anytime soon. Fugettabouit!

The Laminator said...

Wow...I never imagined what it'd be like running the last 10K of a marathon without the first 20...that is quite an interesting proposition. Maybe I need to find some newbie marathoner who'll supposedly need help to finish at mile 20 so I can jump in and save the day!

Seriously, Nitmos. Great job spectating (especially bringing your saint of a wife), supporting, and reporting!

Lily on the Road said...

It is hard being a spectator, Nitmos you deserve a medal, but Mrs. Nitmos, you deserve a huge, honkin' diamond encrusted MEDAL!!! You are a saint, I keep saying that over and over again!!


SLB said...

My wife and I have come to a pact that she is under no obligation to come and watch me, it just never works, I finish before she gets to the finsih area so she misses me, it's not that I am fast, it's just that two kids slow things down! I guess my support is "off track" and that's just fine by me.

Maybe she be lurking at a road crossing for my next big race?