On Saturday afternoon I made a last minute decision to run a half marathon on Sunday. Despite not having any intention of running this race, I ended up with a PR. Not a PR that has anything to do with setting records, but this was hands down the most fun I have ever had in any race ever. This time PR stood for Personal Reminder.
Here’s how it all went down…
On Saturday, I was working at the store when Dan Moll stopped by and mentioned that he had a bib for the Rock N Roll St. Louis half marathon on Sunday that was up for grabs. He asked if I knew anyone who might be interested. I thought about it for a second, “Ummm, yeah. Me.” I thought I had already secured a bib for Farrell. Random side note: she will still be “Farrell” to RRG even though her last name is now Heaberlin. Anyway, I wanted to run with her and Nicole, who were running for “fun”.
And so I decided to bail on my friends that had volunteered to work the Fleet Feet water station with me Sunday morning, and instead join my friends. I also had a group of friends that were planning to run as Elvis and a bunch of bananas. After work Saturday, I put on my Britney Spears costume and headed to Wes’s for a Halloween party where Gerry, Annie, Serena and our host were proudly decked out in their banana suits, courtesy of Jamba Juice and our Ambassador of Rock friend Tracy. Dan produced my bib and I carb loaded with a burger and some Schlafly Pumpkin Ale.
5 am came awfully early after a late night of watching the World Series game and hanging out with friends. I stood in my bedroom staring at the pile of running clothes on the floor trying to figure out how to get them on my body. I brushed my teeth, threw on a visor and searched the fridge for something to eat on the way. I landed on an “everything” bagel that I forced myself to eat on the drive downtown. Upon arrival, I pinned on Dan’s bib and dumped the entire contents of my purse on the passenger seat of my car in a desperate search for the Salted Caramel Gu that I knew was in there somewhere. This was the least prepared I have ever been for any race I have ever run…ever. And my brain was on such low function that even after parking the car and running about a mile to the Peabody where the group was gathering, I still had trouble understanding what anyone was saying to me. I asked Steve to put my d-tag on my shoe, but ultimately I think he was having just as much trouble as I was. I stared at Serena in her banana suit as she tried to explain something to me and I just wasn’t tracking. At that point, Wes teased me, “You don’t look so good right now, Jacobs.” I don’t think I have ever been that tired going into a race. 3 straight days of working all day, going out afterward and little sleep. How in the world was I going to get through 13 miles?
Eventually, we lined up in the corrals. I turned to Tony, who was dressed in his standard Elvis attire, and asked what kind of pace he was planning to run. He said, “Fun Pace”. Yeppers, that worked for me. Within the first half mile or so, all of us were pretty spread out already. Nikki and Shalini were running the full. Annie’s competitive juices had kicked in, even in a banana suit. Gerry is just crazy fast without even trying. I put on my ipod and picked up the pace to what felt “comfortable”. If there was such a thing given the circumstances and my low energy level.
The first 3-4 miles or so were just to get my blood flowing and wake me up. Surprisingly, I was actually managing a fairly decent pace too. Not likely to be my fastest, but not my slowest either. Somewhere in there I ran past Glenn and his brother, who had dropped a hat. I still wasn’t awake enough to pick it up for him as I almost stepped on it.
It was at about mile 5.5 that the fun really started. I could see the Fleet Feet water station up on the hill and I knew I was about to see a lot of familiar faces.
I turned the corner heading into the station. Andy was at the first table. I had a flashback to a couple years ago where the roles were reversed and Andy ran past in his orange Kinvaras, grabbing a cup of Gatorade from my extended hand. Granted, he was running considerably faster than I could even dream but whatever. He has been known to slow down to my pace on occasion to show me a trail or two.
The next table was Adam’s wife Sarah, followed by Adam. We did a chest bump and he said, “Hey, I wondered where my water station buddy was!” We had so much fun laughing last year in that very same spot, it was then that I officially decided Adam was my “work husband”. Unfortunately, our relationship is on the rocks since he has been positioned at the new Des Peres store.
Then I saw my recruits, Katie and Steve. Steve had threatened to throw Gatorade on me when he saw me since I was a jerk for convincing them to volunteer and then going off to run instead. I braced myself, and with a big smile on his face he held the cup in a threatening manner. We laughed and I drank instead of getting a Gatorade shower.
I continued through the water station seeing Haley, Diana, Katrina, Faith, her daughter Baylee, Katie, Tim, Jaime, Kaitlyn and Rosie…I’m probably forgetting someone, but it was so cool to have all my friends cheering me on like that. So many of them were shocked to see me on the course which was a fun surprise. So I gave a quick explanation of making the decision about 15 hours earlier. Rosie and Kaitlyn had both commented on having “race envy” which is extremely common amongst runners. As I meandered through the water station, it occurred to me that I had taken a cup from almost every one of my friends. 90% of my hydrating happened at mile 6, I maybe hit one more station for the rest of the race to avoid a stop at the Port-a-Potty.
Shortly after that, I saw Mark. Mark is a friend of Farrell’s who will be traveling with a group of us to Arizona in a few weeks to volunteer for the Ironman, which will secure each of us a spot to register for Ironman Arizona 2014. I came up next to Mark and we ran together for about a mile. We talked about our upcoming travels, training, life and various things. After a while, I decided to pick up the pace for a bit. So I took off. For maybe about 100 yards.
And then I saw Liz standing on the side of the road cheering. So I jumped over to see her and stopped to chat for a bit. She said, “Obviously you’re not running for time.” I said “Nope, just running for fun today. I’m having a blast. It’s easier to throw competition out the window when you’re running under someone else’s name. Today I am a 55 year old man!” We talked a little longer. Brian waved as he went by and then I went on my way.
At this point there were about 4 miles to go. I got into a zone for a little while as we ran through some beautiful neighborhoods. I hit every “official high five station” that I saw. So many people in costumes out enjoying a beautiful fall day in the Lou. There is nothing cuter than the smiles of little kids waiting for a high five when their mission is accomplished.
When we got to the split for the half and the full marathon, I could see Brian up ahead of me about to break left, so I picked it up to catch him, called his name and gave him a fist bump for encouragement before heading up the hill into the final stretch. At the top of the hill, I heard my name, so I popped my earphones out for a minute to chat with Kris, Roberto, Steve, Eugene and little Rhyen in my old BOB stroller. They had, of course, seen most of the crew go past. I once again declared how much fun I was having, had no idea what my time was and finally decided to finish off the last half mile. I thought maybe I still had a shot at finishing this in under 2 hours, but doubtful. Although, I really didn’t care. It wasn’t about that at all.
So when I saw one of my social runners, Barbara, up ahead of me about to finish her very first half marathon, I had no problem slowing up a little bit and coasting into the finish with her. So great to be a part of her accomplishment and I’m sure she is addicted now.
At the finish we got our medals and ran into several other friends, Tracy, Jodi and JT. Then a recent customer of mine, Susie, grabbed me to say hi and introduce me to her girlfriend who loves reading about the adventures of RRG. I have to admit, I felt a little famous for a second. As friends came and went, I kept an eye open for any of the bananas since I figured they would be the easiest to spot. Eventually, I saw a large afro flopping among the heads of people coming through the finish. Tony. As Elvis.
While we stood waiting for a few others, my body had begun to cool down and I was getting the shakes. Quite by accident stole some guy’s mylar wrap right out of his hand. Or as Tony says, I mugged him. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right? When we had Serena Banana we headed toward the Jamba Juice tent, where we ultimately found most of the others in our motley crew. Oddly, I never did see Farrell and Nicole, who were the primary reason I had decided to run in the first place.
We stood in the sun chatting, refueling and enjoying the day. Somewhere over the course of those 13 miles, I had really come to life and started enjoying the day. We asked about each other’s times, and honestly, I still couldn’t tell you what my official time was. I don’t even think I want to know, because it’s completely irrelevant. According to my Garmin which is set to auto-pause, my actual running time was just under 2 hours. My guess is that my “chip time” is somewhere in the 2:05-2:10 range, but the experience was time-less.
My PR for the day was the “Personal Reminder” that sometimes it’s ok to set my competitive nature aside. Once in a while, I need to remember to stop taking running so seriously. Stop taking everything so seriously. Stop taking myself so seriously.
And I mean, really, how can you take anything seriously when you are running with Elvis and a bunch of bananas?!