Saturday, August 14, 2004

Like A Hot Knife Through Butter

With 75 degrees and a humidity of 79 percent, I was very grateful that this race was only a mile long.

It was your typical August 14th morning in the Baked Apple.

Ileana and I found a parking spot right near an apartment entrance near Park Avenue.
The doorman for the building made us feel at ease, telling us that we were parked fine and that we shouldn't be worried about getting any parking tickets.

The goal of today's race was simple. Once the gun sounded I needed to run as fast as I could, and hold on for as long as possible, without passing out.

The race starts at 80th Street and 5th Avenue. While there may be a few potholes and or indentations in the road, it is a clear, straight shot to 60th street.

I was feeling energetic this morning. Ileana was by my side and I had her laughing too. I kept telling her how I was going to "dust" everyone off, and "blow them away". Of course, this was pure bull, but hey, I figured the rhetoric couldn't hurt. In fact, it was a good way to boost my own confidence. I had been going through a tough divorce, tough times in my job, and I just learned that Lorraine took Amanda to live in Florida. I was hurting inside, and above all else, I wasn't too happy in the basement dwelling that I had been at since April either.

With all due consideration, there was a lot of anger in me this day. And, as a person that always feels that it is my duty to do so, I figured that I would turn all these negatives into a positive, and run possessed. And I did.

The start of the race was done by gender and age category. This was nice because it meant there would never be too many people in any one "heat". Even still, my group, Men 35-39, was easily the biggest field with 229 men.

As I was waiting for the gun to go off, Ileana was sitting on a cement block that had plants in it which belonged to the apartment building next to where my starting line was. I was trying to keep cool in an otherwise hot and muggy day. I was right next to her, in fact, when the gun went off. I was also all the way in the back of the line as well. Dead last to be precise.

The first quarter mile was brutal, I was running as hard as I could and zig-zagging around people in front of me that were clearly slower. My weight at that time was about 170 pounds, and I did not wear it very well on this date. I felt like I was either going to puke my heart out, or else have it explode through my eerily cold and sweaty chest. It's a good thing that Ileana was in my life at this time, or I might have shaved off a few seconds, and given myself a possible heart attack and died.

But I did not die. Instead, I wisely slowed up once I got to 75th street, and stayed that way until about 70th. It did bother me to see people that I had passed to be passing me by again, but I felt I had a great kick in me and wasn't too worried.

The air was so damn dense, while my forehead felt like 1000 degrees. I really did feel like a hot knife forging easily through a stick of butter. And then when I saw 70th street, I threw down and figured I was going not to sprint and hold back for one last dash a block from the finish, but sprint the whole way to the end.

For the last half-mile, I ran as hard as I could. I was gasping for air. Each breath more painfully in need of oxygen then the last. People around me were becoming a blur. I was zoning out, but hopefully not passing out. The only thing that kept me on my feet was my anger. Anger surging through my body as I thought of all that had happened in my life, that I wish had not.

When I sailed across the finish line, I almost could not stop, and nearly crashed into a guard rail.

After I caught my breath back, which was about 10 minutes later, I started walking back to the starting line to get Ileana and head for the car.

In the end, I didn't place all that well. I finished 997 out of 1972, and 166 out of 229 in my age group, and overall for men, 829 out of 1199. However, with finish time of 6 minutes and 45 seconds, I was extremely happy.