I haven't touched the blog in 18+ months. February first is day one. I completed a marathon, which is where this story left off. Life has changed in eighteen months. Running is a thing of the past. But I am still trying to Take Care Of My Shoes. I'm going to attempt a 365 project of photos. Some will be amazing, others will suck. I will not spend time captioning/explaining every photo. Its a snapshot. This my empty room....as empty as this visual diary. But as I managed to finish 26.2 miles, maybe I can see this thru to the end.
Psst…not any running in this post, but definitely for the health/socially conscious. A call to action.
As you know, by night, I am a bartender in a full service restaurant, which means we serve food. If you are looking for full service, I might suggest a couple seedier places in town where your twenty bucks will get you more than a couple beers and an appetizer. However, as someone who has to scrape the plates of my patrons before handing them off to our underpaid and under-appreciated dishwasher, I have recently been seeing a disturbing trend.
Allow me to cut to the chase. If you don’t want it on your plate, JUST ASK for it not to be there.
My case in point: Last night a couple in their mid-twenties came in for a late night meal. I did not blink an eye when they both ordered cheeseburgers, because their physiques rivaled the pin-ups on my daughter’s wall. They were, in fact, easy guests because they knew what they wanted and didn’t modify their order at all. Basically, I didn't have to write anything down. I actually have mad skills and can run a table of six without pulling out a pen, but I digress. On my Point-Of-Sale computer, their order took all of about six keystrokes. But here is the rub.
Both proceeded to eat their entire meal which consisted of burgers, fries, and beer. However, both of them discarded the accompanying bun for their grilled cow. I say discarded because they just left them on the plate, completely untouched.
Folks, this is WASTE! Trying hard to not trip on my pedestal, it is asinine to order food that will not be eaten. In the food-service industry, it is my job to accommodate your every request. I hate tomatoes. I like tomato products, and diced tomatoes, but whole slices of tomatoes on my burger is revolting. Same with pickles. Therefore, when I order out, I request for the tomatoes and pickles to be left off. I recently made this request at a local brew pub here in town when the server retorted, “But they are on the side.” My point is this: it is not an issue that those things are on the side, my point is that regardless, I WILL NOT EAT IT! It will be thrown away, hopefully, in a reputable establishment, anyway. Trust me, we don't eat the leftovers off your plate, or recycle your buns, or pickles, or tomatoes, or onions.
With rising food costs and starving people in our country, the amount of waste that is generated in restaurants is appalling. And you wonder why it is getting more and more expensive to dine out. Granted, our cost of two burger buns is less than fifty cents, but it adds up, quickly. And guess who we pass those costs onto. Yep, you, the consumer. Or non-consumer, if you, for some reason, can’t make your wishes known.
Seriously, folks, those of us in the industry would much rather have to push a few more buttons on our computer than to perpetually throw away hundreds of pounds of food every night, just because your diet or tastes restrict you from eating it. Gone are the days of hand written orders, thrown on a wheel for a line cook to decipher. You don’t want the bun; I push a button that says, “No Bun.” You are not a pain in the ass, unless, you are just being a pain in the ass, but otherwise, we are very happy to keep you happy. Our livelihood depends on it. Just don’t push it. I’m not picking the mushrooms out of a mushroom glaze for you. Deal with that and move them to the side. But Save The Condiments!
I am going to do this again, however, I will not ever be doing it in San Diego.
As the years and miles roll beneath my blistered feet, my reflections on "the first" will be bittersweet. If I was bucket-listing, I could put a BIG LINE through this accomplishment. Yes, I completed a marathon. However, I did not run a marathon. Hang on, this may be a long post, But since my marathon took me almost five fucking hours, there is a lot of time to cover.
Oh, look, three excited marathoners in the airport terminal. Yep, we are looking good.
And here is Chris, exuberant about our post marathon destination. Much to our dismay, it is really only a steakhouse, no strippers. And we never acutally ate there. Double click the pic to see the name of the joint.
We wandered over to the expo to get pitched from hundreds of vendors about the newest and greatest sports gear retrieve our bibs. After pausing momentarily at the Race-Change $20 table, my future was passing before my eyes. For 20 bucks, I could be a pussy and run the half. Fuck it. I don't have $20 in cash. I have never attended one of these things, but is it usual for there to be a beer vendor on premise? I should clairify, MGD 64 or whatever the hell it is, is not beer. It's slightly beer flavored water. But for a buck, why not? And since I didn't sucumb to the race change table, I could guzzle 15 of these things, and probably not catch even the slightest buzz. She who is thirteen found a booth to create Cheering Signs. That's right, I'm a Go Daddy! Danica Patrick and I will be featured in all future advertising.
Our hotel about a mile from the start line was filled with both local and out-of-town marathoners. We were sharing residence with some neighbors from as close as Denver, as local as La Jolla, and as far away as Atlanta. The mood in the lobby was focused. For a different occasion, what could have be a raucous crowd on a Saturday night, the air was filled with quiet anticipation. Those of us that were checking in had business to attend to. Bibs were to fastened and chips to be attached. Final, non-sleep deprived, over obessive organization will save the frustration of searching for the Glide while trying to take the first crap of the morning. Everything was it its right place. Now to concentrate on the final two primary tasks for the next 6 hours. Some sleep mixed the clearing of the colon.
Gun time: 6:15am. Wheels up: 5:00am. Alarm 4:00am.
I am going to tribute this portion of my post-marathon blogpost to Beth at Shutupandrun. BBQ'd Chicken and Tri-Tip, accompanied by au gratin potatoes, followed by two brownies, plus a few beers resulted in one fine display of human defication at about 4:30am. Other than my shoes, I was dressed, Looking Good, and ready to go. Two cups of coffee, a bagel and a powerbar and off we go.
As we briskly walked the 1 mile uphill to the starting line, I wondered if it was smart to keep drinking coffee. I had proudly deposited the remanats of yesterdays late afternoon feast 45 minutes ago, but I am known to need a second sit down, particulary when coffee enters the equation. Chris, a disciple of Hal Higdon and all that is running, was drinking a warm Coke that he had allowed to get flat. Yikkes! That would surely result in this:
I proceeded to ditch the coffee.
We reached the top of the hill and found ourselves almost overwhemed by the sheer number of people on the streets and neighboring park. Here's myself and She Who Knows Fashion, Looking Good, amist 40,000 runners.
After this momentary pause, we set out to find the bag check. After some wandering, we finally located our designated UPS truck, but not before strolling through several tents handing out water, cytomax, and bagels. Good touch, Rock and Roll. Scorecard goes to plus 1. However, all of this was leading to some of the nastist port-o-pottys within a hundred square miles. The olfactory hues emitting from the row of six crappers She Who Knows Fashion had to utilize was enough to send me retching and promply puckering up my asshole for the next few hours. In all honesty, other than some gasous explosions around mile 19, my bowels held steady, so not much else to say about that. Just for you Beth.
We made our way to our coral, #16 of 40, and began to survey the runners around us. She Who Knows Fashion decided at the last minute to buy a new shirt, so she was sporting pink. I opted for the orange, hopefully making me Look Good easy to spot. Any thought I had to wearing purple was quickly satiated due to the overwhelming number of Team in Training members all wearing the same purple shirts! There were thousands of them. While I am not dismissing the value of their program, fuck that if I am going to look like everyone else, just to represent. In addtion, their "coaches" were all over the course, who seemed to know just about every runner out there in a TIT Shirt, cheering them on by name. My name is Paul, you could offer me some encouragement too. Oh, I see, there is a spot on the shirt to write your name in magic marker. The whole thing got a little annoying by mile 20. Also, it is really not cool to wear the free shirt you got at the expo. Sorry, not my style.
Just for giggles, here's a quick video of the scene
After the gun went off at 6:15, each wave gradually began to move forward in eager anticipation. I strapped on my headphones, kissed She Who Knows Fashion, and pressed ahead, in the front row of our wave. Volunteers, bless their heart, they try hard at their non-paying jobs, but quickly we found the rope being held across the street by two clearly confused and uncordinated inlisted servants on the ground, merging our group with the one ahead. At the same time, their rope had hit the pavement and now we were a massive coral of 3000. This prompted a tongue lashing from the start official to us participants and security physically restraining runners from crossing the line. While necessary, it immediately prompted howls of boos from the now frusterated runners. It really only took about 30 seconds for security to put down their arms and allow us to march on. Rock and Roll scorecard goes back to even.
While Rock and Roll touted "bands at every mile" I could honestly care less. The twenty seconds I would spend troting by a stage with some unknown local band playing a dated cover tune wasn't going to get me through 26 miles. I had a playlist on my iPod. Probably making the most crucial of first marathoners mistakes, I came off the blocks hot. I knew this because the first Phish Jam on my iPod was 22 minutes. I crossed mile 2 at about 18 minutes. Way too fast, but I could not slow down. My left leg felt great and I was cruising! Through mile 8, I was keeping a 9:30 pace. All of this while weaving through more tentative joggers because Rock and Roll chose to coral us by registration order, not time. Minus 1. BTW, I had a woman in front of me wearing a tech-shirt and lacy panties with an ass not designed for her chosen attire. Very distracting, forcing me to run faster in front of her.
Never sucking wind over 8 miles, I was feeling great. The course wound us through a park, along the bay, past PetCo Park, home of the San Diego Padres and over the streets we had explored the day before. Then they put us on the freeway.
Highway 163 in San Diego is a four lane road, winding through the hills separating downtown from the inland community. On paper, this sounded like a great space to hold 40,000 runners.Not so much. According to my Garmin, over the span of three miles, Rock and Roll tortured us with a 400 ft change in elevation on a 13-16% grade, but that wasn't the worst of it. Because the road weaves and curves, it is not remotely flat. In fact, it gave us anywhere from a three to six inch difference in right to left impact. This just killed me. Short striding on my already injured left groin caused my time to begin to significantly fall off. I was able to regroup on the downhill and make up some ground heading into miles 12 and 13. Minus 1. Scorecard Rock and Roll: -2.
As I crossed the 13.1 mile mark, I really felt good. My pace was still intact and my body was responding well. She Who Knows Fashion passed me around this time. Damn! I knew better than to start fast. I made a point to stroll with purpose through the water stations, ensuring I stayed hydrated and the next 7 miles went by pretty easily. But with each passing mile, I could see my pace beginning to steadly slow down. After my average pace got to 10:30, somewhere around mile 20, I knew I was breaking down. My goal became keeping the time under 11:00. But now Rock and Roll put us on an island.
Mission Bay Park is a small patch of land jutting out into the bay. Again, on paper, it looked ideal. It was so lonely out there. Aside from three bands and water stations, there were no crowds cheering and providing encouragement for those last few miles. A strong breeze made trugging on even more difficult. Resigning to my bodys urge to shut down, I formulated a new strategy. Run 1/2 mile, walk 1/4 mile. Here I am, walking, but Looking Good. Surprisingly, I abandon the iPod for this stretch. My music had been blaring for four hours and I had enough. I needed to hear myself think and muster the stength to power on.
As I crossed the mile 25 marker, a new resolve washed over me. Fuck if I am going to be walking the last 1.2 miles. I was getting off the island and now the crowds of cheering spectators were lining the path leading to the finish. Their energy and exhuberance became mine, feeding my rubbery legs to stride one foot in front of the next. About 100 yards from the finish I heard some my family screaming, "GO PAUL! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!" Finally, some familier voices. I powered up and cruised over the finish line. The blur of the next 20 minutes is lost in my brain. I got a medal, had my picture taken, and found my family. I didn't feel an overwheming sense of accomplishment, just glad to not be running! Rock and Roll scorecard just earned a point. But it wouldn't last. But here I am Looking Good as I finish.
After searching for our UPS van with our bag, we aimless wandered searching for a shuttle, to take us back to downtown San Diego. We are now in a parking lot with no shade, in a line estimated to be over an hour long.....just to get on a bus which will transfer us to a trolly car. The defination of FUBAR. This was no way to treat thousands of weary marathoner. Rock and Roll loses 5 points. She Who Knows Fashion doesn't do well at the end of these things and was horizontal on a cot in a med tent, throwing back salt packets with fierce determination to restore some equilibrium. This turned out to be a blessing as the medic directed us to the cab depot. Fuck ya, I'm paying the $20 to get our asses back to our hotel directly! Here are the three proud and weary finishers.
Overall, Rock and Rolls scorecard is not good at minus four. The biggest debacle coming at the end. Between stranding us on an abandon island and the transportation catastrophe, Rock and Roll failed most of the participants. Word on the street was that they were scrupulously checking ID's for the post race concert, which was held in a fenced off area of the parking lot we didn't bother to check out, because there was no shade or place to sit.
I have accomplished something not many even attempt. For that I am proud. I know that barring injury, I would have performed better than I did. My chip time clocked in at 4:52:00 at a 11:09 pace. My Garmin says an 11:04 pace covering 26.42 miles. I like the Garmin. Therefore. next on the slate is Rock and Roll Phoenix in January. She Who Knows Fashion and I will run the Denver half and I am never running 5 days a week again. This summer will be spent remembering how to swim and ride a bike. Run Less, Run Faster is my next book to read and absorb. Thanks Hal Higdon, you got me this far. I got myself over the finish line.