There are moments in life that defines us. There are moments that test us. There are moments that we look back upon and go, “oh man; I did that?”.
You won’t see a #NeverForget branding exercise for this Saturday. You won’t see a #RE2PECT for all the people who accomplished what they did almost exactly one year ago.
I should’ve realized that last year’s Paul Short Run would be a challenging one. First off, it was on a Saturday. The fuck is that about? No class excuses (aka internship since I was a fifth year senior on his way to unemployment and depression…how innocent I was)?
I woke up and it was hot. Not DEATH hot exactly but hot enough for me to realize that this shit would suck. I’m a pretty optimistic runner in all seriousness. The one thing that always kept me leveled was the fact that if it’s hot for me, it’s hot for everyone. In fact, the weather only said 78 or so degrees which is warm but nothing TOO out of the ordinary for the first weekend of October in Pennsylvania.
Sitting on the bus was the usual experience. Its around a 35 minute drive to Lehigh; just take 78, ignore 309 and you are pretty much there. I think I made that drive three times a week this summer visiting good friends so I became pretty familiar with it. Irrelevant detail that was added so you know I know what I’m talking about.
I remember pulling in and looking at Jake and laughing. The bus next to us was decked out in promotion for the movie “Thor 2” which was still a month or so away from dropping. As we made the freshman (aka C.J.) take the tent and tables and we walked to see how the younger and unattached guys did.
The first thing I see is one of our redshirt freshman Sam sitting on a water cooler drenched in sweat. Sam never sweats. He took one look at us, sighs and goes “yoooo, f— that”. He actually said that. He couldn’t get the word out in between gasps.
Of course Callahan PR’ed and he goes “you know, it’s hot but…..like…I PRed soooo…”; thanks Mike. Coates at this point was a puddle of sweat and we didn’t know where Dom was but he presumably survived.
I took a look at the girls team and my girlfriend at the time Jess was determinedly staring out into the distance and considering her chronic asthma; I knew what she was thinking.
We were kind of a team that was a bit in limbo right before this. We had some good expectations and were doing OK at this point but one of our top girls sprained her ankle right before during a workout and Sam got a baseball tossed at him in a drive-by pitching.
I guess that was a prelude to what was to come.
Coach clapped his hands (that’s usually a cue to stop doing what your doing and go near him) and he goes “look, it’s hot out and it’s hot out for everyone; that’s no need to fold!”. He was right. We went out to do warmups and I had that feeling in my stomach that a race was on its way. We knew it’d be a challenge.
Warmups were a mostly silent affair though Jake and I would break the silence to try and signify the points on the course where you would need to pick things up. I’m not sure how much got through their ears but I used it as an excuse to get myself hyped up.
For some reason, you have about 30 or so minutes before the race after your done warmups but that time always accelerates. A minute becomes 30 seconds instead of 60.
I next remember being on the line. I have a good memory but I really just remember going to the bathroom after warming up and then dousing my neck in water from the water jugs near the start line. I also remember being screamed at as the guy with the intercom announced “PLEASE MOVE SO THE AMBULANCE CAN GET BY”.
The race started and at the weird, modern art sculptures that signify 800m; I remember being covered in sweat from the people around me. I’m glad Ebola is this year not last.
At mile one, I was right with Jake and C.J. (Fleming was in the distance up ahead) and all of a sudden my ankle kind of gave out. A perfectly sized rock made its way in-between my spikes and I didn’t want to stop and take it out (the smarter choice) and instead ran through it. I think I lost about 50 positions the next mile until it fell out and I hung with Mark before feeling better.
In between though it was like fucking Vietnam (in before someone tells me that’s insensitive, I don’t mean really like Vietnam; it’s a hyperbole….thanks for your service). Every fifteen steps I took, someone dropped out in front of me. I don’t mean dropped out like, took a deep breath and went to their coach. I mean, full-fledged showed themselves the door and passed out on the side of the course. I could ONLY imagine what was happening behind me.
I started feeling quick when I got out of the cornfields (aka half of Pennsylvania) and then feeling demoralized. Fleming (who looked like he bathed in the Saucony as he was covered in sweat) was around me and considering he was a top-national caliber runner; I knew that wasn’t a good thing. A few steps later I got to Watson (our #3-4 guy with me really) who was also struggling.
The last mile was a blur. I tried to accelerate but felt dead. I couldn’t help but think it was only 80 degrees. I never felt more….demoralized in a race in my life from outside conditions.
People like to be LetsRun commenters and complain about how “soft” people were that day. While I’m sure back in your day, you ran 90 mile weeks on the surface of Venus; you weren’t there. You didn’t see asthmatic runners being carried and looking gray. Not pale. But gray. You didn’t see people face first in their vomit like it was a Motley Crue party from 1987.
Survived is such a shitty word. Like those who dropped out were soft in any way whatsoever. But when I look back at my running career, the Paul Short 2013 race will always stick out in my mind.
I started this post out sarcastically, then I kind of got serious as I thought about it. I remember the rest of the races being called off and sitting in the back of the bus with Begolly ahead of me and Jess next to me and all we could muster was a loud sigh.
Since everything in my life is based off of some inane tradition, I’m definitely cracking open a Miller 64 this weekend.