Jan 18, 2011

Idiots of winter

A Ryder moving truck sucks up powdered road salt in its wake, pooling it into a white cloud as it lumbers by.  Numb northwest winds dissipate the crystallized cloud and freeze the sweat pooling in my hat as we stride onward.

Last Saturday, 11 brave souls idiots banded together for a trot through the deep freeze in the inaugural IOW MLK Marathon.  The acronym works out to Idiots of Winter, Martin Luther King Jr., and it sounds like "Iowa Milk".

Most of the group looped the winter 13.1 mile course once.  A couple fools looped it twice for a disturbingly stupid 26.2 mile burn.  We staggered the start a little to level out the finish, I had no intentions of pushing the pace and wanted to step out a few minutes early to help fend off the hard spooling half marathoners.  Riggs was signed up for double laps, I heard the steel screws in his shoes scratching out ZEECH! ZEECH! as he clawed across black ice at mile four.  His legs turned smoothly, as if powered by electric motors, his monotone greeting was "hey" as he bounded ahead like a Lycra-coated cyborg and disappeared.

I nearly put on an accidental demonstration of spectacular ballerina splits over a couple sections of glassed ice, just keep it rolling and maintain forward momentum, I muttered with gritted teeth.  Outside the protective block of buildings and homes, the countryside wind licked my nylon running shell and spilled over the collar, condensing the sweat that was boiling from my back.  By mile seven, I could sense the quartet of runners behind that were closing the gap with their 6:30 per mile strides.

The temp was 15 degrees, with the January wind dropping the real feel to 5 degrees.

The pack of four scooted by at mile eight, they were relaxed, talking loudly and enjoying the morning.  I stopped to spray the snow yellow.  We were back in town running along a well traveled road,  so I knelt down and spun like a turret to keep my back against traffic as cars rolled by.  Dignity is of little value when you're in the middle of running nearly 30 miles.  When you gotta go, you go.   

I completed the first lap and took a 15 minute break at the start/finish line (Tony's house) to reload on sugar and stretch out.  This wasn't really a race, so much as a fun run, so I didn't feel too guilty taking a breather.  Andrew was a hero, Tony lined him up to join the second loop so I wouldn't have to run alone and to stave off my untimely death in case fatigue, an abominable snowman or any myriad of other potentially bad "what ifs" struck down.  That man is a motor mouth, which is good, since our uninterrupted conversation interrupted my mind from paying attention the cold and fatigue that was chopping at the legs.

At mile 24, which was mile 11 for Andrew, the sag wagon stopped to check on us and validate that we were still alive.  A "speak for yourself" exchange occurred next:

Tony:  "Are you guys okay?  Do you need water?"
Andrew:  "Doing great, thanks!  No, we don't need any water."

Sandpaper lined my throat, Riggs handed me a Dasani from the car.  I sipped a couple swigs, tossed it back and we were off again.   

I was hoping to average around seven minute miles, but slowed on the second loop and finished in 3:08.  Riggs finished the marathon in 2:42 with no breaks.  Outstanding!  The half marathon pack finished at 1:26, the lady halfers were a little behind that pace.  Overall, solid results and another quality training run for the books.

The best part of any run is the camaraderie and banter that is shared with friends before and after the workout.  After the finish, we thawed inside Tony's house, wolfing down a pepperoni pizza and raspberry breakfast pastries.  We basked in endorphins while watching basketball, sipping hot jasmine green tea and beer.  A few grunts, a round of knuckle punches, then we departed and each went our own way.

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