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Nose running faster than legs in marathon jog

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POSTED November 18, 2009 2:30 a.m.
My typical post-half or full-length marathon lines are generic.

“It was awesome running down the chute then eating everything I could at the tents, just awesome.”

Sometimes it’s not as positive.

“It was pretty cool, I passed out for about a half hour under the first aid tent because I was hyponatremic, but it was pretty sweet.”

But for the hours during the run, the thoughts of post-race meals, wearing the Finisher Bling are usually blocked, like my nose was Saturday during the Run the River half marathon in Sacramento Saturday.

I caught the little cold on Wednesday, hardly slept, and my body spun from ready to reeling just in time for the 13.1-mile race.

I dreamed the night before I met the runner of my dreams in the post-race chili with cornbread line. Things were going great. She was beautiful and slower than me so I wouldn’t be embarrassed.

Then I woke up and remembered I have a neck beard.

Last year, Nate and I arrived an hour early and had plenty of time to warm up. Saturday there only 17 minutes between park time and go time.

Not that it’s an excuse, but that could be one of the reasons I ran —  no, crawled — at a 10-minute mile pace for the first three miles.

I have two simple goals when it comes to running half marathons: live, and finish in under two hours.

I was on pace to accomplish only No. 1. Not good.

I could say my mind wasn’t right, because that’s likely accurate. For a 10th of a mile, I looked to my left and stared at the river, looking at cover, access points and riffles for signs of fish.

The girl I almost ran over probably thought I was shamelessly checking her out.

Without the distraction of the river I, like many runners, dealt with traumatic questions that could alter the race.

Should I rocket the stringy substance from back in my nasal cavity or hock it up and spit it out?

Some use the collar area of the shirt, leaving it glistening oddly at the finish line. Others use the bottom and leave mucus tributaries slightly dampened by salty sweat.

This conflict can rage for miles until it will no longer be ignored.

That’s what it’s like to run distance.

I worry the adhesive strips on the band-aids will give way, and my nipples will turn to bloody stumps like the dude I saw after the San Francisco half. Guy looked like he got shot twice in the chest there was so much blood.

I concern myself with absurdity - did I turn off the oven I haven’t used in four days? Is the door locked?

But the final three or four miles, nothing matters except finishing and filling the stomach. Odd treats, exotic foods, even the left over cheese still clinging to an abandoned burger wrapper are entertained in thought.

At the 20-mile mark of the San Diego marathon I almost brained a kid with his own skateboard so I could snag his Guacamole flavored Doritos.

Since I am terrible at math, I calculated that with 5 miles left. I had more than made up for my horrendous start and was in good shape and erroneously invented a finishing line considerably closer than the real one.

I plowed up a little hill to the last aid station, both Achilles tendons feeling that with each step a fiber is being severed with a razor. Two and a half miles left. I was expecting one.

Oops.

I re-cursed myself for the false hope and that D in college algebra and continued on, knowing both goals were intact, but barely.

I stopped my watch with six minutes to spare on the green finishing mat and immediately filled a cup and my mouth with pretzels as I ravaged through all the other food at the finishers tent.

Any standing that lasted more than a minute or two birthed a mutiny against forward movement by my calf muscles.

But since all of that sounds less heroic, odd and maybe a little gross, I won’t mention it.

Here’s my line: “Saturday was a great experience. My calf muscles are a little sore, but it was great.”

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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