Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 Philadelphia Distance Run – Part One: Fun

It was a pretty simple Pre-Race Day strategy; the usual Saturday morning routine [minus my 6½ mile run at dawn], then sometime around lunch we’d hop across The Bridge to pick up my number and do some minor clearance rack shopping at the Race Expo, then down to ProPedals in Hammonton to pick up a new bicycle helmet for D’Wife.

Um, dude, that’s about 75 miles of driving for a couple pieces of paper and a hunk of plastic?

So what? D’Girls were really excited that Race Day was almost here. This is my first big race as a family [2006, I was kind of on my own, both training and racing]. Plus, they were both excited about seeing some of my/our Kick friends again.

We got over like a dream [except the part where they raised the bridge toll to $4; we had the extra buck handy] I parked in the garage closest to the Convention Center. I can’t go into a parking garage anymore without thinking of LSU_Fan_Tiff

“quick check in to tell y'all I've got a running plan for if I get stuck at the hospital in the next few days. Two words: Parking Garage! I've solved my hills and hurricane non running problem in one thought. So if CNN is taping some crazy chick running up and down the parking garage as helicopters are landing transporting patients that's probably me. All joking aside, that's really my running plan if I'm stuck there.”

To which I responded:

I've done that!!! I've also gone up to the roof of the Trump Taj Mahal lot in AC with my skateboard, bombed it to the bottom and taken the elevator back up [like a ski lift!].

“The looks I got from the whiteheads were precious!!!”

We exited the garage onto 12th Street. To my recollection, this was the first time the three of us walked the sidewalks of Philly together. This was NOT D’Kid’s first time though; she had been on a couple of class trips already.

Of course, I had to remark that, “Daddy used to live on this exact street!”

We entered the Convention Center and followed all the skinny white people upstairs to The Expo. The first order of business was to discover my race number. Since I had registered online, at almost the last minute, I didn’t receive a confirmation card with my number on it, so I had to look it up on The Big Board of Numbers.

My friends had registered far earlier than me and had posted their predicted times much faster than mine and were assigned numbers in the 14000 and 17000 range. I had estimated a 2-hour finish, so I was anticipating a 5-digit number, beginning with a “2”




That put me in corral #9 … I’d be ahead of them?

Actually, this worked out well for me, since I’d be able to say “Hi!” as they went by.

That statement is huge, as it suggests a complete change in my mindset over the past year. Previously, I would have cringed at the thought of being beaten by a friend of mine or worse, family. One reason I regarded my 2:12 in 1999 as such a disappointment was because, not only was it my worst showing since I started racing the Distance Run, but also because I was more than 20 minutes behind my sister-in-law.

Now, I was completely comfortable and self-actualized; accepting myself as the short, fat, slow and old runner that I am. The race would not be about my finishing time, but about the adventure and pride that my girls and I would share when it was all over.

After we got my number and T-shirt and failing to find the table of clearance items from previous years, we wandered out onto the Expo floor. I checked my watch and saw that it was just about 1:30. Jill, Heather and other Kicksters had met for lunch; I wondered if they’d be done and here someplace.

“We’re just leaving now,” Jill said when I called, “We’ll meet you in a few minutes”

We arranged a meeting place and wandered around for a bit, collecting what free goodies we could, which included small cowbells from a Saturn display and bright orange Thundersticks from ING [the only thing we bought was a pair of new lucky sox, courtesy of D’Wife]

Note: Of all the things I've received in my swag bag [posters, refrigerator magnets, samples of pasta and inedible 'energy bars'] and even surpassing the free flip-flops I got post-race in 2006; I've never gotten something as home-friendly and utilitarian as the Glade Plug-ins Scented LightShow PFunkMothership [a $30 value, I'm sure]. Yeah maybe I would have bought one, maybe, if I still lived in the Gayborhood; Now I just have to buy refills. Thanks SC Johnson - A Family Company.

Mariel soon proceeded to put the nasty noisemakers to work, which brought on some cerebral distress to her mom. I grabbed one of them, and a duel commenced.

Naturally, Jill arrived just as I was between a parry and a feint, distracting me enough that I was mortally struck.

A reminder came to me at that moment; something one of my friends told me, “When you see the girls again, just relax and be yourself.” Certainly, I am most myself when playing make-believe with my daughter.

Heather arrived shortly thereafter, hugs were given and introductions of the running partners for the next day. D’Wife re-joined us after a less that fruitful trip to the Magik Stik massage table.

Soon my analytical mind did some math: 2 runners, 2 running partners, my girls and me.

6 chix to one dude. I was far outnumbered. I needed to get myself out of there before the conversations turned to shoe-shopping, man-bashing and fruity drinks.

“We should get going soon if we want to get your helmet and still make it to church,” I offered.

“Where do you have to go for the helmet?” Jill asked.

“Our shop is in Hammonton,” I answered, “Down near us.”

“How far is that?”

I paused and tried to guess. I believe Jill gave me a look that said, “You really don’t measure anything, do you?” My poor record keeping is becoming both notorious and hilarious.

Goodbyes and Good Lucks were said and we moved on for the afternoon. The trip to the bike shop was postponed due to a sudden urge to nap from the passenger side.

We went to 4:30 Mass as planned [Father Tom’s sermon included references to both “Rudy” and “Saint Ralph”]. A fine dinner pasta’d me up. I loaded my bag for race day, drank plenty of water and went to bed early, all of us.

Tomorrow would be epic.

Part 2 >>>

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