"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside

On November 22nd I ran my first race (and longest distance) since having had disc surgery this past March.

The event was the Star City Half Marathon held here in Roanoke VA. And as it was the 23rd year this race has been run, Mother Nature decided to commemorate the occasion with a start time temperature of 23 degrees. How thoughtful.

Arriving early, I joined a multitude of runners holed up in a pre-race huddle inside the Rocwood Indoor Climbing Center and as I passed the time prior to the mass migration to the start line, I scanned the wicking clad crowd for my two running partners.

Joining me in this noble quest for frostbite was my brother-in-law Bryan and my nephew Jay; both of whom travelled about 3 hours to share in this delightful experience. Just goes to show what grown men will do in order to hang on to any remaining (perceived or otherwise) shred of their youth.

While Jay and I are veterans of several half marathons – including this one, this would be Bryan’s first. Having taken up running relatively recently, he ran his first race this past April – the UKrops 10k in Richmond VA and at my urging, stepped up to the plate and committed to this event while it was still quite warm here in the Old Dominion. (Just to clarify, this in no way should be considered an act of deception on my part as Bryan is well aware that late November is historically cooler than mid July.)

At any rate, before too long the three of us found one another and began to plot our race strategy. It went something like this:

“Damn it’s cold outside!”

“Yea, I can’t feel my toes.”

“What the heck were we thinking?”

Feeling this was an adequate amount of planning, we spent the next several minutes re-tying our shoes and regaling one another with tales of our past race experiences - Bryan had to keep repeating the same story - until the ensuing tsunami of running tights pulled us through the front door vortex with the 300+ other soon to be no longer warm bodies and deposited us squarely in the midst of old man winter.

After a brief (and way to brisk) stop at a port-a-john, we headed over the foot bridge and assembled at the designated location to await the firing of the official race gun, all the while bouncing up and down like a Discovery Channel Tutsi tribe in a failed attempt to keep from becoming human popsicles.

Following a spirited rendition of the national anthem, the gun finally fired causing everyone to cease bouncing and start running. And run we did, for just up ahead we exited the shade and emerged into the sunlight where it was easily 3 degrees warmer.

It should be noted at this point that both my brother-in-law and my nephew are several years younger than me and while there are many runners my age who are as fast as those several years younger, I am not one of them. In fact, I’m not faster than those younger, the same age or older. Even walkers sometimes finish ahead of me but I don’t care. I still get the t-shirt.

And so proceeding at our own pace, we soon split from one another in pursuit of our individual goals. Bryan’s was to complete his first half marathon. Jay’s was to shave a minute or two off his time and mine was to not puke.

I’m happy to report, we all succeeded.

(L-R: Bryan, me and Jay)