Chariots of tired

Published 1:32 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recently my father, the esteemed C. Andrew Millard, has been training for a marathon.&bsp; This means every other day he runs a ridiculous distance and then calls me and tells me about it, which sends me into a red-hot Oedipal rage. Okay, I don&squo;t really feel white-hot anger whenever my dad tells me of his fitness exploits, but I do feel kind of bad that I never support him in his quest to run 26.2 miles and then be completely bedridden for several days afterwards. So last weekend, I thought I would show some support for Dad by running in a race with him.Now, it should be said that I am not a runner. Instead, I am a wimp. But last weekend, I was a runner in the Cliffs Zest Quest 5K, and boy was it interesting.Dad and I arrived about an hour early for the race so I could sign up as a runner and we could have time to warm up. Like any crack athlete knows, the best way to warm up for a race is to do aerobics before you run. At least that&squo;s what the organizers of this race thought. The lady leading the aerobics warm-up promised that after we were done aerobicizing, we&squo;d &dquo;Feel ten years younger!&dquo;&bsp; Seeing as ten years ago I was ten-years-old and even more of a wimp than I am now, I respectfully sat out of the aerobics session and stretched.Then, tragedy struck.&bsp; It turns out that dad and I wouldn&squo;t be able to run together because dad was running the 10K portion of the race while I was only doing the 5K, and the 10K people were starting out fifteen minutes before the 5K people were.So I was running this alone, a lone wolf, a solitary puppy, a singular canine if you will.&bsp; We lined up at the starting line and before I realized we were supposed to be running, we were running.The first mile was great. It was down a hill. We reached the end of the mile and I thought that I had finished the entire race. Sadly, this was not true. I began the second mile discouraged, but more importantly, I began the second mile running up a hill that, in my best estimation, was literally the steepest hill of all time. I made it to the top of the hill, where the rest of the runners and I were given water in four-ounce cups. The problem with the four-ounce cup system is this: when you&squo;re running, it&squo;s hard to aim what you&squo;re drinking into your mouth.I found this out the hard way by running up to the water table, grabbing one of their miniscule cups, trying to take a sip while still running, and spilling&bsp; roughly 98% of said cup&squo;s contents on my face. There was zero moisture captured by Drew Turner Millard on that day, folks.Mile two continued down a hill. I was feeling good again, mainly because when you&squo;re running down a hill you don&squo;t have to work as hard and you still get to go pretty fast. It had been about 17 minutes worth of running, and I was feeling great.&bsp; The only problem was that as mile two turned into mile three, the prospect of the hill again reared its ugly head.I hit the hill with the greatest of expectations. I was going to fight this hill, but let it live. And then I was going to run up it really fast. The first half of the hill breezed by. My legs were pumping steadily, my heart managing to not have a heart attack, and my lungs were in no danger of popping or something. And then it happened.You know how when you hear of someone running a marathon, you hear of them &dquo;hitting the wall&dquo; around their 20th mile?&bsp; This &dquo;wall-hitting&dquo; means that the marathon-runner&squo;s body just gives up and every molecule in the runner&squo;s body is telling them to stop running. It&squo;s at this moment in the marathon where a runner&squo;s true grit is shown ‐ if they can keep on and finish the race, they&squo;ve got it.Well, that happened to me, except on my second and a half mile. Because, as I have previously outlined in this column, I am a wimp.&bsp; I hit the wall. And I started walking up the rest of that hill. As I walked towards the finish line, being passed by scampering little child overachievers, who at age ten were running in the same race as me and beating me, I realized that while I may be a wimp, I certainly wasn&squo;t interested in showing my wimpiness to everybody (unless I was writing a column about it and exploiting my wimpiness for comic effect, which I would never do). So I picked up the pace and lumbered towards the finish line, finishing the race up in the not-so-distinguished time of 28:08. I ended up coming in second place in my age group, a shallow conciliation seeing as there were like two other people in my age group, but hey.&bsp; I&squo;ll take what I can get.At least I don&squo;t have to run a marathon.

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