I promised a happy, happy, joy, joy post after last weeks descent into near Poeian madness. Here it is.
Did you enjoy that cheerfulness? Great, now back to the cannibals.
Just kidding. Last weeks post was not meant to be taken seriously. Someone in their Louisiana half marathon must have read that post before the race and developed their strategy from it. Good God.
As a year end special, I’ve decided to self indulgently countdown and highlight my favorite moments while running in the past year. These are individual moments when I just felt great and happy to be alive and running. I’m sure anyone looking at me at that point in time would have described me as having a 'shit eating grin' (which is a welcome relief from the normal response I get of ‘look at that cocky asshole’.) Sure, I could have just linked to them as I already covered each of these in previous posts but that wouldn’t take up much room and then I’d still have to come up with other things for you all to waste your day reading. No, like all good highlight shows, this is a chance for the host to take the day off but still pretend that a lot of thought went into this.
The Goofy Challenge kicked off the year for me. It took place the second weekend of January 2008. The half marathon was on Saturday morning; the full marathon on Sunday. Everything about the half marathon went exactly as planned. I maintained surprising discipline keeping my pace in check. My biggest weakness as a runner – besides finicky calf muscles, of course – is the complete inability to control my pace. Every run, training or otherwise, turns into a PR chase at some point. However, with full fear of the next day’s marathon, I was able to keep a relaxed comfortable pace for the half marathon and coast to the finish with energy stores only partially depleted.
The next morning brought the full marathon. And though it would short circuit around mile 20 with some severe calf cramps (followed by hamstring cramps…followed by shin cramps…followed by eyelid cramps…followed by elbow cramps and so on) I did reach one of those points of true happiness and satisfaction along the way.
The course leaves the Magic Kingdom past mile 10 and travels down a few lonely, lush tropical roads accompanied only by the slapping of feet and the heavy breathes from the other voyagers. There’s six miles to go to the Animal Kingdom and civilization. I expected this to be a tough spot as I cross the half marathon mark for the second day in a row.
In Magic Kingdom heading into the castle.
Sure enough, it was. Just past the half marathon mark, I started to feel worn down. There was nothing to look at. All the excitement of the race seemed far behind and far ahead.
Then, I rounded a bend and there was Pluto waving at everyone. He’s just standing along the road near mile 16 slapping high fives along with a small team of Disney workers enthusiastically cheering everyone on.
I’m not one of those furry lover’s or anything (though Daisy Duck does look oddly appealing) but the sight of Pluto and his big goofy shit eating grin came at just the right time. I matched his grin with a big shit eater of my own. I felt refreshed. Life was grand. You’d never expect a felon wearing a dog costume to create that much excitement. It was a much needed energy boost and carried me for the next few miles.
In Animal Kingdom just after Pluto Nirvana.
And though the before/after pictures above find me with pretty much the same expression, believe me, I’m shit eating on the inside.