OPINION COLUMNS

26 miles of random thoughts

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, December 20, 2014
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Confession: I’m one of those annoying people who drive around with the 26.2 sticker on their car advertising the fact that I’m certifiably crazy and find it fun to run that distance.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Last Sunday came the latest effort to cheat death and get to a finish line for the 20th time. It was also a chance to say “stick it” to Mother Nature, returning for a Dallas Marathon that was canceled the winter before by Icepocalyse 2013.

Well before getting to the Dallas city limits, I began getting the notion that a cancellation for a second straight year wouldn’t be a bad result. The week before Thanksgiving a game of pick-up basketball with co-workers turned into a rolled ankle, split open knee and a left big toe swollen to twice its size.

Luckily, instead of a broken toe it turned out to be turf toe (of which I was kinda proud because it was a legit-sounding sports injury). After a week, I was back on the road training with enough time to get in at least one more 20-mile run.

Four days before the race, my semi-annual sinus infection arrived two weeks later than usual. Luckily there was just enough time to get a cortisone shot to start the road to recovery and get to the starting line.

After a sleepless night, three saline sinus cleanses, a handful of Vitamin C, Halls and a peanut butter and banana bagel, I finally reached the starting line Sunday. Oh, I forgot to add in the 40-minute wait for a port-a-let.

With nose still dripping, the temperature hovering around 60 and humidity at 87 percent, I decided it was going to be a leisurely stroll instead of race. I chose to move out of my assigned Corral A to B to start with four ladies I’d trained with – two of whom were running their first marathon.

The run got off to an ominous start. I started my Garmin 56 seconds before reaching the actual starting line. I tried to stay within talking distance of my friends for the first two miles. Even as we trudged along barely under a 10-minute pace, beads of sweat started to appear – telling me this was truly going to be a long day.

By mile three, I lost contact with my friends and slowly began to speed up, bumping into other familiar faces for a brief hello. Then it was time for the first of 10 packs of Gu (I may have been the only person to run 26 miles and actually gain weight).

After winding through downtown past some familiar sights and a few new spots, we arrived in Highland Park. Surrounded by huge homes, I issued the first of a few wisecracks that fell on deaf ears when I realized everyone had in earbuds but me.

The cussing then started as we climbed the first of several hills that felt like mountains. Hills? Texas is supposed to be flat.

A little past Mile 7, we crossed U.S. 75 and encountered the sign of the day “I do my marathons on Netflix.” At this point, drenched in sweat, that sounded better. Luckily, I avoided the other funny sign: “Poop in your pants if you have to.”

A few miles later, I did have to make a quick stop at a water closet and my new Garmin paused without me knowing. The 56 seconds extra I thought I had disappeared during this time.

Nearing the halfway point, I saw I was on pace for a finish of four hours, 8 minutes. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good and thought “I can get to four hours.” Popping a few ibuprofen and more Gu, I started to speed up by mile 18. I started eclipsing a 9-minute pace and kept speeding up.

Part of speeding up was trying to get through four miles of all-Eminem music, feeling like the old man on the course.

After hitting Mile 22, it was time to go all in for breaking four hours. I began turning in my best splits of the day, passing people and going into full-Kenyan mode. Hitting the outskirts of downtown at Mile 24, the rain started.

At this point, I’m thankful to have a red shirt on in case I turn into bloody nipple man – which I’d been on more than one occasion.

Looking at my watch, I see the clock getting close to four hours as I come up to Mile 26. Just 0.2 miles left. A few hundred yards from the finish line, I see my rain-soaked wife and think “she must really like me to stand out here for this.”

Holding up a pair of fingers on one hand and a zero with the other to signal 20, I cross the finish line, hearing “Richard Greene of Justin, Texas” on the loud speaker.

Thinking my time was 3:59 and change, I soon find out my watch had paused. Final time: 4:00.26. What? I missed it by 26 seconds?

Getting my major reward – a medal – I soon beg a volunteer to open a water for me as my hand cramps up. I think to myself, “I’m never doing that again.”

That thought lasts about four hours before I start scouring the Internet looking for the next race.

There is no cure for crazy.

Richard Greene is sports editor of the Messenger.

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