6. picture of health.

Ten miles to go.

I knew that getting through a 10-mile run would result in some, uh, discomfort for a few days after.

But i had no idea about the full range of reactions my body would put me through in the days following Sunday’s jaunt.

  • Pain. Well sure, this one is obvious. And as I said on Sunday, it was evident by the time I was halfway through the race, in my calf, in my hips and in the now-infamous groin. And as everyone warned me, the pain and stiffness continued into Monday, even after a torturous morning session with our foam roller. Tuesday was better in general, but there’s a pain in my left thigh that appeared out of nowhere today. I’ve learned several new funny walks since Sunday, but this will clear up with time, more foam roller abuse and a new bottle of Advil.
  • Exhaustion. I expected this as well, although not to the degree it’s actually hit me. In spite of the pain I had to deal with on Monday, I actually felt pretty good most of the day. But when I got home and took a seat on the couch, I was immediately ready for bed. This wasn’t helped by working until 1 this morning, but it’s getting better as well.
  • Food. I made a mistake on Sunday — when we went to Piper’s for a post-race breakfast, I immediately ordered the richest thing on the menu, their version of chicken and waffles covered in delicious banger sausage gravy. On a normal Sunday, I would have had no trouble hoovering the entire plate; on that Sunday, I ate about a third of my meal before my stomach made it clear that something lighter would have been a better way to go. I ate the leftovers without too much trouble Sunday night, but the discomfort continued on Monday, when the only thing that sounded interesting for dinner was a can of chicken noodle soup. Even yesterday’s election-night pizza is still fighting with me today. This can stop any time now, thank you.
  • Drink. WHAT? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T DRINK BEER? Sadly, this is true. I’ll chalk up Sunday’s experience — ordering an amazing (and amazingly strong) Victory DirtWolf instead of a nice, cool wit as I had planned — as a poor decision; that’s because I couldn’t finish my glass. I drank about 47 gallons of water on Monday, but I didn’t try with the beer again until that night, when another strong IPA led me to suffer feedback from my body *urp* that I experienced on Sunday. And as I am bound by journalistic tradition to have a post-election night beverage, I successfully downed a bottle of Woodchuck cider when I arrived home last night. I think I may give the beer another try tonight, because DAMMIT THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

I’m going to try to get outside for at least a brisk walk tomorrow morning, to try to work out the last of the kinks I’m suffering from Sunday. I know, I know — i’ll take it easy for a while. But I want to take advantage of whatever momentum I gained on Sunday and turn it into a regular thing again.

And so I can skip the part about having to avoid beer for three days after the next race.

3. ow.

My left ankle. Both hips. The side of my groin that bothered me a year and a half ago. My left calf, which felt as hard as a baseball for the last four miles.

Yeah, 10 miles hurts.

medal10

But it also feels pretty good.

When I had jury duty last week, Beth and I talked about how different our surroundings looked on foot as opposed to driving through downtown, and I encountered that over and over on Sunday, right from the start of the race, when we had to take a hill — that I didn’t really realize existed — up West Carson Street right at the beginning. Although I know the roads on the course very well, I was continuously surprised that the “flat” course wasn’t especially flat.

So I struggled. And that’s where Fred came in. He pretty much gave up a chance to run his own 10-miler to stick with me, pushing me to run in short spurts to spots up ahead. He showed me a stretch for my hips, which started aching about halfway through the course. And he kept my focus on the ground we were covering, rather than the time it was taking.

And I needed that, because had I been on my own, I would have bailed. I first thought about it seriously as we shuffled off the 16th Street Bridge; I could see crowds of runners, well ahead of us, heading east on Liberty Avenue, towards downtown and the finish line. We still had a long trek east through the Strip, longer than I realized — until the course jogged over to Smallman Street and I saw exactly how far we had to go — uphill — before we made the turn towards downtown. Mentally, I was done, but Fred kept us going, around the corner and back towards the finish line.

meandpatrick

I was aching after the race — I joked about having to do the Fred Sanford while walking back to my car after lunch at Pipers — I’m aching now and I’m sure I’m going to be aching tomorrow.

But I’ve got a 10-miler under my belt. And that feels great.

2. ten.

runpregameI’m running 10 miles tomorrow.

Let me be more specific. I’m traveling 10 miles on foot tomorrow. Some of that will be running. Some will be walking. I was bothered by this mix as recently as a couple weeks ago, but I’m good with the idea tonight.

Fred came out from Columbus to join me tomorrow morning. He’ll start with me, but at some point he’ll set out on his own pace. I’m thrilled that he would come out for this and I know I’ll appreciate his support tomorrow morning.

Mrs. Crappy will probably be sleeping when Fred and I start the race, but she did all of her work tonight, prepping a delicious pre-race meal of steak, lemon-garlic pasta and asparagus.

I know a bunch of people running tomorrow, and I assume I’ll know a few spectators as well. If you see me, say something encouraging. I’ll be the guy having fun at the back of the pack.

under pressure.

relax

I need to take some lessons from my cat.

Things have been … stressful … recently. Getting by as a single-income household, even temporarily, is difficult. I face new challenges at work; I welcome those, because many involve changes that are overdue, but they are difficult nonetheless.

It’s a lot of pressure.

I don’t like this. I spent much of Tuesday at my desk with my teeth clenched, trying not to flip out on my colleagues. I had to run errands in Cranberry after work, something that won’t exactly help anyone lower stress levels. And when I got home, I plopped down on the couch with a bowl of mac and cheese and three hours of The West Wing queued up on Netflix.

Sure, there are worse ways to spend an evening. And yes, I’m not ever going to argue that an evening of escape isn’t helpful once in a while.

This month two years ago, I started running. It worked. I did it consistently. I felt good, about a number of things. I was at the age where I had to start thinking about things like my health, my weight, the fact that I work a very stressful job and that my family’s history with heart problems wasn’t exactly encouraging.

Hey, look — all those things still exist, except that I’m two years older. Hm.

I’ve run sporadically this fall, but I’ve managed to turn that into a chore as well. My bed is warm and hitting the snooze button is really easy — and then I beat myself up over the fact that I’m supposed to run 10 miles with Fred on Nov. 3. Boom. More pressure.

Take a look at Miles up there. He’s 13 years old. The internet tells me that’s the human equivalent of 75. Yes, he sleeps a lot. Yes, he doesn’t need to worry about websites or mortgages. But you know what else he does? Even at his age, he plays. He runs. He kills the catnip-filled bananas and furry mice he has stashed all over the house. And then he’s got a really good reason to take a nap.

I wish I had same kind of time for napping that my cat does. It looks like it does him good, because he’s in pretty good shape for an old guy.

But the other old guy in the house does have time to do something for himself. He knows from experience that taking that time makes him feel a lot better. He knows he’ll be better off, at home and at work.’

And, judging from the weather forecast, he’s going to be running in a cold rain tomorrow morning. And he’ll feel pretty good about it too.

i’m back.

medal

I saw the guy not too long after Mrs. Crappy dropped me off on the North Shore.

He had the same build as me, and although he has much more gray hair than I do, I guessed we were about the same age. But there were plenty of old fat guys getting ready to run this morning’s Pittsburgh Marathon 5K, and the similarities I shared with this guy weren’t what caught my eye.

It was his Michigan shirt.

I am capable of being pretty competitive in general, but that’s typically the furthest thing from my mind if we’re talking about running. And as I thought about the race last night and this morning, the notion of beating anyone wasn’t even a consideration — I was concerned only about finishing.

Until I saw the Michigan shirt.

I started running again about a month ago, sporadically at first and, for the last two weeks, steadily following the old Couch to 5K program. I knew I wouldn’t be close to being able to run a full 5K by the time today came around, but I didn’t hesitate to enter the marathon’s 5K race. I thought — correctly, it turns out — that the race would provide a nice boost at a point in the C25K program where I have struggled in previous attempts.

But even before today’s race, I felt something different, closer to what this all felt like in the fall of 2011, when I completed C25K for the first time and ran my very first 5K. I found that I enjoyed running back then; that feeling carried over into the following winter, at least until I got hurt and had to stop. That was discouraging, enough so that I just stopped. I made a couple comeback attempts, but my heart wasn’t in it.

This time has felt different. There are things I needed to change, not the least of which was my fitness and my weight. The issues that existed in 2011 — high-stress job, family history of heart problems, love of beer and cheeseburgers — all still exist, almost two years later — which means I’ll be 47 on my next birthday, and I can’t simply can’t behave that way any longer.

 

I have a good start. And today’s race was a huge part of that. I love the energy you pick up before the start of a race; I also love the boost you get from seeing friendly faces — Kelly, Chelsea and, of course, Mrs. Crappy — and cheering strangers on the course. And the shot of¬†adrenaline¬†you get when the finish line comes into view is one of the best things ever.

I’ll do another 5K soon. When Mrs. Crappy — who has started running again as well — is ready, I want to do one with her. I’d love to do one a month for a while, with an eye on getting to a 10K or a half marathon sometime in the fall.

And, mostly, I want this to continue. Because this time, I’ve having fun again.

As I shuffled down Wood Street, I finally caught sight of the gray t-shirt again, the one worn by Michigan dude. The nice English lady just told me to walk, but I kept him in view as we rounded the corner to the Boulevard of the Allies and the home stretch to the finish line.

I didn’t wait for the nice English lady to tell me to run again. I knew I was going to be slow — my official finish time was 42:57 — but I was going to beat Michigan Guy to the finish line.

mefinish

There’s a little uphill on the boulevard, but the last few hundred yards to the finish are slightly downhill — and that’s when I kicked. Perhaps I benefited from the fact that Michigan Guy wasn’t aware he was racing anyone, but I blew by him just after we crested the little hill and cruised to the finish.

Ohio State beats Michigan once again.

cups of water. and high fives.

cups

It feels a little different this year.

I’m not worried in any fashion about volunteering to sling water during Sunday’s Pittsburgh Marathon, but it feels like it’s more important than usual for me to be there this year.

This will be the third time in four years we’ve volunteered to work the race. It’s one of the most fun days of the year for me; I get to support friends and strangers, all of whom are, without fail, appreciative of the volunteers, and I, without fail, yell myself hoarse cheering for people I don’t even know.

Regardless of the circumstances, I would be out there Sunday morning.

3008358-poster-boston-marathon-explosion

But it feels a little different this year.

I am part of this community. I don’t know what it’s like to cross the finish line after 26.2 or 13.1 — yet — but I know what it’s like to put in many slow miles to reach a goal. I’m running — sort of — in the marathon’s 5K on Saturday morning, as part of a new — and so far, successful — push to get back into the sport.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this regularly, but on April 15, I felt for the people who had to suddenly deal with death. With injuries. And — in a way, the most personal aspect of the bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line — those who had their moment, the one they had worked towards for weeks or months, taken away by those explosions.

I took it personally for them. I took it personally for the friends who have run Boston. I took it personally for friends who could run there someday.

And I took it personally for me.

I don’t feel like working on Sunday morning is making any kind of grand statement on my part. But maybe what we all do on Sunday — whether we’re running, as many of you guys are, or if we’re slinging water — we can all speak pretty loudly, in support of each other and in support of those whose lives and goals were interrupted in Boston two weeks ago.

If you’re running, look for me at the Mile 6 water station, on Western Avenue near the humane society; I’ll be wearing a bright red bucket hat, so I’ll be easy to find for a hug, a high five and a cup of the best water on the course.

And if you want to join Mrs. Crappy and me, there’s still time. Go to the volunteers section of the marathon’s website, click the General Volunteers button and scroll down the list to the jobs that start at 5:30 a.m. (yeah, there’s some personal sacrifice involved here); sign yourself up for the Mile Mark 6 fluid station — they still need about 25 people just for that station — and come on out on Sunday morning. You’ll work hard, you’ll have a good time, and you’ll be saying something louder than the report of a couple bombs.

I hope I see you there.