Lake Of Pleasure

After that 5k race at the lake there was no doubt that my back had to be attended to before any more races would be attempted. Luckily, the Internet is full of advice and exercises that would address my specific problem.

If indeed my problem was sciatica, all it took was a simple exercise to magically reduce, and relatively quickly eliminate the pain. The exercise consisted of laying on my stomach, and propping myself up on my elbows. The arching of my back did wonders, and within a few weeks the pain was gone.

With that obstacle out of the way, it was time to step it up a notch. Of course, stepping it up a notch is what got me in trouble in the first place, and apparently I hadn’t learned my lesson. My next race was going to be a 10k, something accomplished a few times on a treadmill, but a distance I had never run in a real race. Just by coincidence, there was another race by yet another man-made lake, this a mere two months after the jarring 5k that reintroduced me to running. Out of shape? Sure. Not even close to ready? You bet. But with the benchmark that marathon girl had set, there was no time to lose in my mind. After all, she would be running yet another marathon the same day.

As the day approached, I desperately searched for something that would give me energy, at least enough to cover the 6.2 miles. The caffeine fueled pills and drinks were out of the question. They just made me jittery, and necessitated frequent visits to the bathroom. At those races, the bathrooms were port-o-potties. You want to stay out of those if you can. Scouring the internet, I came across two substances that supposedly increased endurance, without the caffeine side effects. They were called Rhodiola and Cordyceps. Rhodiola was some kind of herb, and Cordyceps some kind of fungus. Together, they were allegedly an endurance athletes dream. We would see. I went out and got a bottle of something called Ginza Plus, which contained both of the ingredients. It was a shot in the dark, but…

The morning of the race arrived, and although very apprehensive about the race, prepared with a bit of faux confidence none the less. Some powdered electrolytes and six Ginza Plus pills, double the recommended amount was my breakfast, along with a bagel and banana. It was time. As long as the course was nice and flat as advertised, this race was probably doable for me. Probably.

The race was in Westlake Village, a bit of a drive for me, so I wasn’t really familiar with the area. I should have taken the time to find out. Upon arriving in town, it was clear that that place was nothing but hills. There wasn’t a flat street in the whole town. Closing in on the race site, the cones that were set up along part of the route flowed like waves up and down the hills. This is going to be bad. Some of the hills were fairly steep, at least if you were running. They were even more steep if it was your first 10k. Pretty steep.

Parking was a breeze, but I once again found myself at a race…alone. Yes, 6 billion people in the world and…That speech rang in my ears again, but in this case, being along wasn’t that bad. If I couldn’t complete this run, nobody would know. Of course, if I did complete the run, it would be back to the 6 billion people scenario.

It’s always fun to observe the people, like minded people who were out early Sunday moring for the exact same thing I was. There were real athletes, there were weekend warriors there were-all of a sudden I see this guy, sporting a lime-green, skin tight shirt, short-shorts (and I mean short), a 1970’s headband, and I’m assuming gray socks. Either that, or he needed to do some laundry badly. Had he lifted his leg too high in the air…Don’t want to think about it. Must be a 5k’er I thought with a little hubris. Considering I hadn’t even run a 10k, I had some nerve looking down on 5k runners. I was a 5k’er! The idea that day was to change that 5 to a 10.

This was a local event, and to my chagrin, there were no photographers. That is one of reasons I like to attend these things: to get my picture taken in action. Not that day, which was a shame, considering the step up the race was for me. It was set up in a portion of a hotel parking lot, and had the typical booths and vendors you might find at any other race. The Kiwanis Club was serving pancakes after the race though. Well, we would see later if I even deserved a pancake. There was a lot of standing around and waiting, as the 5k crowd started first. Waiting seems much longer when you’re by yourself. Another drawback was…I had to visit Andy Gump. Try and stay out of those things if possible.

The moment had arrived. The 10k crowd began to line up for the race. Unlike the last race, This time I really did look decent. A blue sweat-wicking genuine running shirt, along with some fairly stylish basketball shorts, and-it was a shame there were no photographers. Although it was overcast, I brought my hat anyway. Good thing, because as we were lining up, the sun began to break through. It was going to be a hot one. I took my place at the back and-there was the guy with the green shirt! Yes, he was a 10k’er! He was muscling his way through the crowd for a better spot. Maybe he was a real athlete. There actually were real athletes there. A guy with a list of marathons he had run, other guys that looked like they were straight out of a muscle magazine, and women in spandex that looked not only fantastic, but very athletic. A little intimidating. This is going to be bad rang through my head again. There was still a chance to back out. I could just walk away now and nobody would know. I could just-GO!!! The 10k is underway!!!

Too late now. I put my headphones on, and carefully paced myself, to the tune of Back In The Saddle by Aerosmith. No more than a minute went by before the first hill came up. Just pace yourself. As slow as my pace was, initially, the run seemed like it would be okay. It was just the start though. Fortunately, my confidence grew with every step. The music helped. Green Grass And High Tides Forever was a nice long song with great guitar work. It took me up a road that led to a view of the lake.

That’s were I saw the guy in the green shirt again. He was sweating profusely, and his arms were flailing in a desperate attempt to propel himself along. The headband was long gone, and it looked like he would be gone with it shortly. Wasn’t sure whether to help the guy or not. The sweat plastered the tight shirt to his body, exposing what was a very hairy back. Hope you make it dude, I thought to myself. There were cyclists all along the route looking for runners in jeopardy. They would have no problem spotting him. I didn’t see him after that. He wasn’t the only one either. As I jogged, there were some people that were walking back the other way on the sidewalk. Apparently, they couldn’t complete the run. What a horrible feeling that must be, to realize part way through that you just can’t do it. I felt very bad for them, but at the same time, made me even more determined to make it. I decided to position myself behind a pretty girl-for the view. She was very cute right until she turned he head and spit. I had the headphones on, so not sure how loud my response was, but a oh, that is sexy just came out. She looked back at me in disdain and maneuvered out of my line of view. That was okay. Plenty of other cuties abounded.

Half way through at the turn around point, was the water stop. It gave me a chance to stop for about 10 seconds and catch my breath, have a drink, and check out the pretty girls handing out the cups of water. I did all of those things. Now was the test. The 5k was done. Every step was now 10 territory. I maintained that careful easy pace. The headphones came off after about mile 4. I was starting to tire. It would be me and the road to the end. Just keep a nice easy-all of a sudden there was a hill that I didn’t remember before the turn around point. Orange cones went up the hill and around a bend. I couldn’t even see where the hill peaked. This is going to be bad. I started to reason with myself. Have you ever seen the cartoons where the devil appears on one shoulder, and the angel on the other? That’s what was going on from the 4th mile on. The devil was saying, “Walk it, nobody will know-hell, nobody will care! You’re by yourself, there aren’t any photographers-you done good, you’re over 3 miles, just pack it in pal, take a break and have a cigarette.” My angel, who turned out to be a little more blunt than the average angel had different advice. “Look, Angie is running 26 miles today, you’re only running 6…now get your ass up that hill!” I took the angel’s advice.

I made it up the hill, but was very fatigued by then. I was near my limit of endurance. Suddenly I could hear the loudspeaker lauding the finishers of the race. The end was near. A few minutes later, the finish line came into view, and I knew I had done it: a 10k. 1:09. I was estimating maybe 1:15 on a flat course. This was a great time. I crossed the finish line a new man-a 10k man. I found an open area and walked around in circles to try and cool down. It was sort of a victory lap as well, but more for cooling down. I was very dizzy after the sudden stop and needed to slow my heart gradually.

As I circled around, a guy came up to me. “Hey,” he asked excitedly, “did you run the 10k?” What was this? A fan? I answered slightly haughtily, despite the fact that everything was bathed in a sheet of white, and I needed something to lean against.
“Uh, yeah, I ran the 10k.” He nodded even more excitedly.
“Did you see my friend Chris? He had a yellow shirt-he’s really buff-he was going to win!” His friend? I wanted to say I didn’t see his friend in the yellow shirt, but I did see his friend in the green shirt. He didn’t make it.
“Uh, no, if he was in the front I didn’t see him, sorry.” Dejectedly the guy walked off. Hope he found his friend.

I needed some hydration at that point and looked for the bottled water booth. It was empty! No water at all. The 5k crowd must have taken it all. I went to the late registration booth, and let two very nice ladies know. One was gracious enough to give me a bottle she had in her car. They then alerted someone who ran out and bought some cases of water. Just a little miscalculation. With water in hand, I looked for that pancake booth. I was famished. It was the last booth, and I got my plate with three blueberry pancakes. I sheepishly asked if I could get six. The guy serving them up looked at me for a moment. “Sure,” he said with a smile, and I got my six flappers with syrup. I set down on ground and had my victory breakfast. I felt like the king at his banquet. I was really sitting on the ground with pancakes, but I felt like the king.

Now was the time I wished someone was there to share that running milestone with me. Next time. I finished my pancakes and made my way back to the car, now officially a 10k runner. If felt great.

2 comments to Lake Of Pleasure

  • I am normally not one to write comments on other’s blog posts, but for this write up I just needed to do it. I have been digging through your blog a lot nowadays and I’m really impressed, I think you might potentially emerge as a main opinions for your niche. Not sure what your schedule is like in life, but if you started commiting more effort to writing on this site, I’d bet you would begin seeing a lot of traffic soon. With affiliate stuff, it might emerge as a great second revenue stream. Just something to think about. Good luck!

  • rjjrdq

    Thanks Roseanna! For the record, I LOVE chicken fried steak!