Clinic In Self Sabotage

On a certain level, you know what to do, but sometimes the hints are so subtle they aren’t heeded. Then there are the cases of your conscious mind thinking it has all the answers. Fresh off the Chicago Marathon and my first skydiving experience a few months after that, my mind was open to the next new adventure. I wasn’t actively seeking anything in particular, but just open. When you think like that, things seem to come your way. It’s just a matter of if you’re in tune enough to notice. This was a case where I indeed noticed, but was way out of tune.

Poor time aside, bragging rights were in order after completing the Chicago Marathon for the second time. There were even surrogates at work to help spread the news. Word got to a young lady who had just transferred to my department. She was running a half marathon, and it was just weeks away. She asked if I would like to run it as well. An invite? A pretty girl asking me to run with her? It sounded like a fun time to me. Making new friends had never been my strong suit, so when this opportunity knocked, I answered. Let me rephrase that. It’s not that making friends was a weakness of mine. It was keeping them where I needed help. But in this case, I didn’t have to make an effort. Co-worker, runner, invite-she was even on board for a future skydive. How awesome was this?

The run was in January, but I hadn’t really been in training mode since doing Chicago in October. So although it was “just” a half marathon, it was still going to be a challenge. As it turned out, she is actually a faster runner than I am, which just compounded the challenge. Still, I had conquered taller mountains than this. It was almost a nonchalant attitude, although deep inside I knew I had my work cut out for me. After all, I was the bragging marathon guy. To tank at a half marathon would be quite embarrassing. Eh, I had conquered taller mountains than this…

My co-worker had picked up my packed downtown the day before and saved me a trip. I would meet her at the race and get my bib that morning. The race was about 40 minutes away, and although my car had been giving me some problems it seemed like it would make it to the race. After all, it was about a 40 minute drive to work every day, and I managed to make it there in one piece. The brakes worked, but I had to press almost all the way down, like there was some kind of pressure that was missing. As a result, when I pressed down it somehow affected the idle. I would take it to the shop that Monday. It had been this way for weeks and I was just too lazy to take it in to the shop several days prior to the race on Sunday, despite what my intuition was telling me. So far, so good though as I drove in the still dark morning. As I got close to the venue there were detours where the streets were blocked for the run. I was routed in the direction of the parking structure, along with hundreds of other cars. Traffic was a little backed up at that point, naturally. It was stop and go on the way to the structure. Remember the brakes? The stop and go traffic was taking a toll on the car and it finally stalled. A hint of annoyance trickled in. A few more feet and another stop. The car stalled again. The trickle was becoming a small leak. My co-worker texted me that she was on her way. Meanwhile, my car was now stalling everytime I stopped. The parking structure was a good 10 minutes away at the speed we were moving. I ended up having to throw the car in neutral and give it some gas everytime we stopped or else it would stall. Great.I finally made it to the parking structure, where the traffic wasn’t much better. Of course the bottom tiers were full and I had to take the winding road upstairs. Did I mention the traffic wasn’t much better? Now I was stalling on a winding, uphill grade with cars in front and behind me. All I needed was to get stuck here and there would be a whole lot of people missing the race. Luckily I made it to a parking space. My mood had soured, but at least I could forget about the car-for now.

It was a follow the crowd to get to the starting line, but my co-worker wasn’t there yet and was texting me to let me know. The race was slated to start in a half hour and I needed that bib. Where’s the restrooms? Or port-o-potties as it turned out. I was attempting to read another text (without my glasses) when a young girl came up to me.
“Excuse me, can you take a picture of me in front of this?” she asked, offering her I-Phone to me. The venue was a popular outdoor mall/social gathering site, and she wanted a pic in front of some restaurant. So how did I respond to this little sweetheart that out of thousands of people there approached me?
“No,” I replied and continued to try and read the latest text. I’ll probably always remember the look on her face. She was hurt. Somebody just trying to have a good time and-hopefully I didn’t ruin her morning. She was trying to make my day. But at that moment all I was focused on was the car the text, the bib-and where were the damn bathrooms?

Finally my co-worker arrived and texted that she was now at the starting line. Just minutes before the race was to begin. I hadn’t warmed up (in more ways than one), and…bathroom. I finally found her and got my bib. Wow, she looked awesome. But before we even got passed hi, I grabbed the bib and headed towards the port-0-pots which were behind the start line. With the race about to start, it was clear that there were way too few stalls. Each one had a significant line. Fortunately, with the number of people running the starting line was several minutes away for the folks in back. But the lines were long and there was no way I was going to run at this point without using the restroom. I looked over and saw the last of the runners take off. Great. I finally got a stall and did what I had to do. By that time though the race was well underway. In fact, as I approached what was the starting line, It was now almost totally converted to the finish line. there was no longer a clock in my direction, and forklifts were moving pallets of water for the runners that would be coming in. I wasn’t going to be one of them. I had missed a race that I actually attended. How could this happen? I angrily stalked off and found the race organizer, letting her have it with both barrels so to speak. Poor organizing, poor parking, poor bathrooms-and I want a refund. Since this was an event that benefited the families of police officers, there were plenty of cops present. There was no refund coming and getting any more animated could potentially have gotten the boys in blue involved. I stalked off. The day was ruined, and it wasn’t even 8 O’clock. After all that, I still had to deal with the car. It made it home, protesting all the way, but it made it.

Well, I can say that my co-worker is still a co-worker and not a friend. Of course not. I ditched her at the race and she ended up running by herself. I’m sure that wasn’t her plan. It wasn’t mine either-or was it? She was faster and I hadn’t really trained for the race, riding on a wave of marathon hubris all the way to the starting line. Was my ego that fragile? It sure seemed like it. I knew I needed to do some training, but didn’t bother. And what about the car? Something was nudging me to get it to the shop the Thursday prior. It would have been running perfectly that morning. I decided to put it off. The girl who wanted her picture taken? She could have been a new friend. Could have. And I could have found the restrooms ANYTIME. It was a clinic in self sabotage. Why? Were things going just too well for me? Was my life going in a positive direction, but the self-destructive part of me decided that I just didn’t deserve to be this happy? If there was any positive to that day it was that I know that everything that went wrong was completely my fault, and my fault alone. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a day. All I have to do now is to discover why I would do just the opposite of what I wanted. I’m sure those around me would be interested in what I come up with as well.

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