Wednesday, January 12, 2005

*I fixed it.

The world must be told.
I ran the Rock N' Roll Arizona Marathon on Sunday morning.

I imagine that the way I went about it was the usual way people decide to run marathons.

I was driving home from a night of drinking and dancing at 8 o'clock Saturday morning. I was listening to the radio when I heard an announcement for the marathon the next day. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to run a marathon. I had planned to run one I had heard about in six months. After all, I don't run very much or at all so it seemed like a good time frame to give myself.

As I was driving and listening to the advertisement, it occurred to me that I don't even like to run. Why should I draw out six months of annoying training when I could just run one now and get it over with? Sure, I was untrained, but the reason most people don't finish marathons (besides giving up) is because they aggravate injuries that they received during their training.

Having had no training, I had no injuries. Plus, I'd never run anywhere near the 26.2 miles in a marathon so I had no idea what I was getting into. I saw both as an advantage.

I went down to the Health and Fitness Expo where I could sign up. I registered, and got my race number. An old gentleman marked my name down as Gunther Lopez and I liked it so much I didn't ask him to change it. I meandered about the expo sampling free energy drinks, power foods, and since I was still a little hung-over I gladly accepted a cup of low-carp beer. Finally, I purchased some non-blistering socks that were red and black and had pirate skulls on them and I was on my way.

I woke up the next morning at 4:30 in the morning. I showered, dressed in my running shorts and a soccer shirt, put tape over my nipples to prevent chafing, threw on my albatross necklace, ate a couple pieces of bread, grabbed my keys and drove to the event.

The race began at 7:40 am. As I ran the first few miles, I tried to form a strategy: "Let's see, a lot of people are weaving around other people to pass them. Over the course of 26 miles, all this lateral movement is going to add up. Also, since my body isn't used to high-sugar foods, I should avoid those flavored energy gels that people are eating because it will just cause me to cramp. Another thing I should be aware of-OH MY GOD IS THAT LADY GIVING OUT GOLDFISH CRACKERS?!"

She gave me two handfuls and I ran happily along munching on my goldfish crackers.

There was a lot of food at the race. I was ravenously hungry when I began but along the way I consumed orange slices, bananas, M&M's, gummy bears, pretzels, and all sorts of high-energy delights.

When I was running with the banana I had to restrain my desire to hurl it at the runners ahead of me Mario-karat style. Maybe next marathon.

I was feeling pretty good until about mile 18. At mile 20, my left knee began to throb and I could no longer feel my right arm. At mile 23, I broke down and started walking. My no-lateral-movement plan was in full effect. Not so much by choice, but because my muscles were so fatigued I could only move forward. The route headed down a slight incline which I welcomed at first. Alas, the miniscule added tug of gravity nearly caused me to fall three separate times.

I began to run again at mile 24. My left leg felt like a piece of wood with a nail in it where my knee should have been. It really wasn't until then that I began to question the intelligence of my decision.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 5 hours and fifty minutes. I got a medal, a little blanket to keep me from cooling down to quickly, and a nice lady gave me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some Gatorade.

It made it all worth it.

Out of the 11,475 people that ran the marathon, 7,365 finished. And I'm proud to say that one of those 7,365 people was a young man named Gunther Lopez.