Monday, August 4, 2008

Tales from the past (part 2 of 2)

This is the other little piece I wrote...different event, essentially same story. HA!

Don’t be Scurred…

By Becky Hale

There are some challenges in life, that you wonder whilst trying to complete them, why in the world didn’t I just go to Marble Slab? One of those said challenges for yours truly was an agreed upon training “run” with my good buddy April. We both have visions of grandeur, crossing the finish line of a local half marathon strongly and smiling with glistening beads of sweat adorning our worthy brows after a race well run. After laughing off these images and hitting as many local bars as possible, we do agree that a training run would in fact be necessary if we even intend to cross said finish line…running or not.
April, master of planning as she is, decides that we will run around noon in the neighborhood where her sister lives. It is quite a trek for me to get to this area, but I agree because I need to get out there and train! After driving the forty minutes it takes to get to this enchanted land called Red Oak, I park my car in the field in front on her sister’s house. One could say we were in the middle of nowhere and not be exaggerating. We share some quick little encouraging banter about how strong we will be on our run and what our pace will be. Her sister kindly lets me borrow her camelbak (a very necessary part of my gear collection, I will tell you more about this ingenius contraption later), and I fill it with ice and water so that I won’t dehydrate. “Hydrate or Die” has become a mantra for many of my adventure co-horts. After making sure we have our cell phones and water, we head out of the kind air conditioning and into the streets for our run.
Oh something I forgot to mention, not really important I guess, but we are planning on doing a six mile run on asphalt streets…with no shade…in August…in TEXAS. Feeling absolutely invincible, we begin our run. We run together for about, oh, I would say fifteen feet. Then April takes a commanding lead. After about half a mile, I am wheezing like an old, crusty, goat. I do not stop, however, I slow my pace and focus on what will be a great run. After that feeling passes, I look to see if April is even still in the same county as me. She is, though she is far, far, far from where I am. I seriously think little old ladies with walkers could have come up behind me and yelled “on your left!” to, of course, alert me to their presence and allow them to pass. I can see this happening when I come to the first mile mark. At this point I can admit that I am in no shape for this sort of sick, twisted event. I take my scorching 13:30 minute mile pace of a jog down to a comfortable walk and try to catch my breath. Please. Who am I kidding?
My good buddy April jogs back to me to give me some encouragement. She is really making me mad. Why on earth did she make me come out here? Was I drunk when I agreed to do this? I have agreed to many stupid endeavors while inebriated, but this..oh this takes the cake. After some more good hearted ribbing and “hey we can do it” banter (which, by the way, we both know is complete and utter bullshit), we pick up the pace again. This time, I am feeling mildly at ease with the 14 minute/mile pace we are logging. Again, little old ladies whizzing by me crackling out, “out of the way fatty” flash before my eyes. I can’t believe more people aren’t out here enjoying this fun, fun time.
We continue this pace for a short bit, when we realize that this magnificent creation known as asphalt is really an inverted sun lamp in disguise. The heat coming from the big ball of fire in the sky was not enough of a contest for us, NO! We needed more obstacles to overcome. After god knows how many minutes, I ask April if there are any trees in Red Oak. Let’s be serious for a moment here. A city that is named after a tree damn well better have a few of them, right? Unfortunately, this was more of an ironic name, as the only shade that I could find was behind me from where I blocked the rays of sweltering heat from that giant anger ball in the sky. Alas, I came out here to complete a task, and complete it I will. Despite the fact that my legs and lungs were both about to stage a coup and usurp my brain for control of Becky, somewhere my heart urged “keep on truckin”. I have learned in 25 some odd years that my heart is not always right. Sometimes, as in the case with my ex-boyfriend, I should have listened to my brain much sooner. I guess we, as humans, tend to listen too much to our heart. I am currently looking for a company that has invented the volume control for your heart, I need to possibly mute mine for a while.
Manna from heaven, an oasis has appeared! A bridge with not one, not two, but a whole cluster of trees! This is when Becky does the dance of joy. (well the short version, the long version takes FAR too much energy). I also realize as I approach that the water I have been consuming has made its passage through my system and is now sitting very heavily in my bladder. Being the outdoor girl that I am, I decide that finding a little nook under the bridge is “ok” and make my way down the embankment. There is something to be said for that odor that comes from whatever was collected under the bridge. I think I saw an old shoe, empty beer cans, a half decayed honey dew melon and a dead bird. Ah, the aroma was…well, it sucked. As I squatted, I am absolutely swarmed by evil air sharks – mosquitos. These little blood sucking bastards obviously don’t realize the death wish they are granting themselves. I knew I was good at multitasking at work, but killing a squadron of mosquitos while peeing and not getting my shorts wet? Well that is pure genius, my friends.
Relieved, I clamber back up the hill to find my good buddy April relaxing in the shade. “You ready?” she asks. “What do you mean, ‘you ready’”, I respond. I mean, I had JUST finished peeing! Where is my moment of respite? Where is my moment of basking in the glorious shade with a gentle breeze to cool my weary self? Apparently, I was too slow on the last portion of the jog to deserve a real break. Note to self, April is evil.
At this point I have no idea how far we have gone and whether or not I will see another day past this one. I have started having open discussions with the good Lord above, thanking him for any bit of cloud cover He could offer. I also have alternating moments of weeping (I am not cut out for this!) and then drumming up my internal library of inspirational quotes (somehow the four letter ones work best for this sort of run). April has again left me and all I can see is the ghostly reflection of her off the radiation waves that bounce off the melted black tar roads far off in the distance. I can’t tell if she is running or doing the hula on a whispy cloud of smoke.
The hula dancing running image of April is coming closer. I know this must be a mirage, like the ones they talk about in the stories of adventurers trapped on the sahara. This can’t be the half way point already. I haven’t suffered quite enough. She reaches where I am and says “turn around, stupid”. She is always a whiz when it comes to support. So I take what energy I have left and wheel around to face the long trudge home. While I like to think it is true “it is all downhill from here”, I know this is false. Appallingly, unluckily, false. I know what is ahead. I know there are 3 long miles of gut wrenching and skin melting road. I even think the vultures are laughing at this point. They know a woman of my size could fill the bellies of at least 200 good-sized birds. I can see the invitations now, “Come join us for a festive banquet of stupid white girl! We will be enjoying this well marbled feast shortly after she collapses from her idiotic attempt to run.”. I push this image from my brain, because, hey…who needs that?
I won’t bore you with the rest of the run, because it really just includes a lot of cursing and sweating and cursing. I will pick up where I am entering the homestretch….
I can see the house. Part of me wants to “kick it up a notch” and impress my friends with a strong finish. That part of me is quickly bound up with duct tape and dropped off the nearest bridge. I am lucky to be alive, so in the next hundred yards or so where I KNOW they can’t see me, I walk. I am not even talking about a brisk walk. I am walking so slow, ants are passing me on the road. I feel gargantuan and like one big plug of lead. Lifting my legs seriously feels like I am pulling them out of mud pits. I stop for a brief moment, knowing that in two steps, I will be in full view of the folks waiting in the front yard to welcome me back. I take a deep breath and dig as far down into the inner reaches of my soul to get the inspiration and motivation to run it in. I am smiling as I jog up to the house. My first instinct is “hey look at me, I made it! Here I am!”, but I realize, no one is out here. No one gives a shit that I dragged my sorry ass the last 15 yards to finish “strong”. April is inside relaxing, her sister and some of our other friends are in the backyard…probably laughing at me.
I go in to the air conditioned greatness, remove my sweaty and now really tight shoes and lay on the floor. Somehow, I am not that angry. For some reason, I don’t blame April for this torture that I just endured. You could almost say I feel, proud. Sure, I didn’t run the entire six miles. Sure I didn’t set any personal records. (or any records for that matter, unless you entered me in a race with purple haired old ladies using walkers, but that would be tight). I did however, finish a training run. I am on my way to being fit. That is what matters at this point. So I actually feel grateful to April.
What? Grateful??? Listen to me. I must be high. My endorphins must have kicked in. Why else would I thank someone for putting me through such hell?

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