The other possible title to this post: Shut up, shut up, for realsies SHUT UP.
You’ll see why.
I should say from the onset that this was the least nervous I’ve ever been before a race, largely because my expectations were soooo very low. I’d run maybe twice in the previous two weeks, I still had runny nose issues to deal with from my lingering cold, I had a donut and nothing else for pre-race breakfast…so, all in all, nothing that would point to a great race. I was hoping to run the whole thing, but wasn’t going to stress too much about it if I didn’t.
The race was held in a older neighborhood in Lawrence, Kansas (a place I could totally live if the opportunity ever arises) and a local school was nice enough to open their building to the 800 people signed up for the race, which was great because it was cold out there (in the 30s, I think). Also nice: pre-race poops in a bathroom instead of a port-o-potty.
Mr. Monkey and I got to the school, looking for the coat/gear check in area. Turns out it was a pile in the corner of the gym where people just dropped their stuff. Slightly less formal than most of the races that we’ve been to this fall with designated bags and number systems and all that.
We hung out in the gym a bit, just to stay warm and to allow the race photographer to snap this unflattering picture of me:
About 15 minutes before the race we finally gave up the warmth of the gym and headed outside to warm up. Can I just say that I hate warming up? Hate it. Always have. I don’t know why. I really have to force myself to do at least 10 minutes before each race. I always think the first mile is the hardest, so I should probably do more, but ugh. Hate.
Michael and I split up for the race start. He headed toward the front of the pack, I headed for the back. Since the course was a loop, I knew I wouldn’t see him again until the finish area. One of the fun things about this race is that there were a ton of families signed up, so many people were standing in packs of family members. I think that is a great family tradition but I didn’t mind Michael and I splitting up. No sense paying $20 for him to run slow just to run with me. I hope eventually I might be fast enough for us to start together, but I’m not there yet.
The race started and I started shuffling along, reminding myself that my expectations were low and just to take it mile by mile. I was about 500 yards from the mile 1 sign when I came up beside a woman about my age who was also shuffling along. She spit dramatically and then turned to me.
“Oh, there you are. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Huh? I’ve never seen this woman before in my life.
“I’ve been waiting for another big girl to pace myself with. No sense trying to keep up with those skinny bitches ahead of us.” She spit again. “I’m doing intervals. You doing intervals?”
“No,” I said “I’m trying to run the whole thing”
“Oh wow. Have you all this way already without stopping?” We were just passing the 1 mile sign. Yes, I told her, I’ve run the whole mile without stopping.
“So,” she said, clearly moving into the getting to know you phase, ” are you in college here? High school? I’m 31.”
I muttered a quick, “no I’m not in high school. I’m 31 too.”
I kept running. She ran next to me. Her feet were running and so was her mouth. In between the mile 1 and mile 2 markers I learned the following things about my new companion: she’s only been running for a month, she usually runs on a treadmill, she’s never run longer than 20 minutes, she has two kids, she has a sore clavicle, she has a sore toe, she has a sore knee, she weighs 220 pounds, her husband wasn’t here to cheer for her because he doesn’t like to be outside. He does like computer games. I also learned that her youngest just started walking, she was up until 11 the night before making pies, she thinks men don’t really like skinny women, men like boobs, she likes turkey…and on and on and on.
“So, are we at mile 2 yet? How much longer till mile 2? I can’t believe we haven’t stopped to walk yet. You are pulling me along for sure”
I checked my watch. I was holding a good steady pace for me. I desperately wanted to ditch chatty cathy but I knew it was too soon to try to speed up. A few times she had dropped back (I could hear her talking to the people behind me) but then she’d catch me again. We ran through the water stop at mile 2. She threw some water down and spit dramatically again.
“Wow, I feel out of breath. I should stop talking”
Oh please, please, please do. Less than a minute passed.
“How much farther to mile 3 do you think?Do you think your husband is done yet? What do you think of those shoes with the toes? Crazy huh?”
I kept running, making a deal with myself. 5 more minutes and then I pick up the pace. Each minute ticked by. She clung to my side like a barnacle, blathering on and on. Just as she launched in to a no doubt riveting anecdote about her cousin’s headband (it was cheetah print, not black like mine) I started to push the pace.
I was a stride ahead of her. And then two. As I pulled away I could hear her yelling “Hey, talk to me! When did your son start walking?”.
I didn’t answer. I looked up and saw Mr. Monkey standing by the side of the road, holding some bananas and bagels. He smiled and said “You are almost there, not too much farther now”.
From behind me, getting closer I heard:
“Oh, is this your husband? Your wife has been pulling me along this whole race! This is my first race.”
Shit. She caught me. I turned the last corner, sprinting as fast as I could. I pulled away a little bit.
“Are we close? Where is the finish line?”
Shit. There she was again. And she stayed with me for every last step of the 5K. The worst thing? According to the official results, she beat me by about 3 seconds. Grrrr.
I am okay with the fact that I got beaten by a small child, a group of guys dressed as bananas, a little person, and a pregnant woman (among many others) but being beaten by the blabbermouth irritates me.
I should say that she probably distracted me while I was racing and that might have been good considering how under trained I was. I ended up finishing about 2 minutes slower than the October 5K, which was better than I expected. And it was her first race, so she doesn’t really know race etiquette (she did apologize for spitting, which actually was less annoying than the constant demands for conversation), but still. I really wish I had beaten her.
Even factoring in my unplanned running partner, I had a fun race and I would totally do that one again if we go back to Lawrence for Thanksgiving. I think we’ll be making turkey trots a Monkey family tradition.
Plus, they had these at the finish line: