The month of March was rough indeed. After a poor showing in February during my second marathon of my “12 in ‘12”, I decided that changes needed to be made. In my last blog entry, I noted that I gave up on chocolate and Diet Coke. While I stayed disciplined and stayed clear of that delicious carbonated elixir through the end of the month, my resolve folded like a cheap lawn chair when it came to chocolate. Hindsight being 20-20, the fact that I caved and resumed my love affair with all things dark chocolate probably saved lives. I’m just going to leave it at that – no more detail is necessary. Trust me.
In the weeks that built up to my third marathon of the year, The Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, New Jersey, I became more focused on my training and starting racking up more miles during the early mornings. Each time I laced up my sneakers and waddled around Central Park, my confidence grew. My pace became easier to maintain for longer periods of time. I began to hold a 9;15-9:20 pace for 3-4 miles…which, historically for me, was simply a pipe dream. I felt like I would erase all feelings of disappointment on March 25th. All of the growing frustration stemming from my self-imposed Diet Coke de-tox was going to be worth it. The constant, slight ache that was the result of a more spirited work ethic was going to be worth it. My constant overall crankiness which was taken out on the world in general (during this time frame, my cherub-like demeanor morphed into a mouthy grouch a la Dr. House…sans chemical enhancements) would be worth it. Right?
I took a New Jersey Transit bus from midtown New York City to Cape May, New Jersey on the morning of Saturday, March 24th in a real positive mood. (This is unusual for me, as I normally stomp around like a troll with a Bronx accent). I checked into a fantastic small hotel near the center of this quaint town, and realized that the starting line for the marathon the next morning was literally a 4 minute walk from my room. The expo was held in a small convention center on the boardwalk. The volunteers were very polite and efficient. Aside from a light rain, this marathon was shaping up just the way I had hoped.
I went to a local restaurant for an early carb-intense dinner, and sat alone in a small booth as I waited for my hefty serving of pasta to be trotted out. My Iphone was playing the audiobook of “Too Big To Fail” through my earbuds…when all of sudden I was no longer sitting alone.
Like a genie escaping from a bottle, The Tool appeared on the worn wooden table that my elbows currently rested on. He had that Cheshire Cat grin on his narrow face that immediately told me that my good vibes were about to become a thing of the past.
“As a matter of fact – yes I am. Go away”.
“Feeling really good? Like a personal best time is on its way tomorrow?”
“Yup. Now hit the bricks”.
“Feel like you’re going to surprise yourself – like you’re going to go sub 4:50?”
“Absolutely. Now GO. Leave. Go play in traffic. Go chase parked cars. Go annoy someone – anyone – else. I don’t care where you go or what you do – just do it somewhere else. Hasta la vista, numbnuts”.
The Tool stood up and began to walk his tiny 4-inch persona toward me. When he reached my large glass of ice water he paused, folded his pudgy arms and leaned his shoulder on the cold, sweaty glass.
“Look. Here’s the deal. All I wanted to do was stop by and let you know that I was here for you. I made the trip all the way down to Cape freakin’ May New freakin’ Jersey for you. Now I thought you’d appreciate the company. But instead of being polite, you got rude. You asked me to leave. That was not nice. Not nice at all. Something will need to be done about this disrespect.”
And with that, he instantly evaporated. The only thing left that signified his presence was a hint of Drakkar in the air. Once more, I sat alone in the booth. Alone with my thoughts. The seed of doubt had been planted – I just couldn’t let it take root.
The audiobook had lost its amusing flare. As I turned my Iphone off, the waitress arrived with my linguini.
“Let me guess – you’re running tomorrow?”
“How did you know?”
“Pasta. Call it an educated assumption.”
I tried to show my positive attitude… “Well I feel ready. I think tomorrow’s going to be a good day”.
“26 miles, right?”
“Yup – 26.2 miles”.
“….how – that’s a long way to run! Must be painful.”
There went my positive aura – “……yeah – it does for a bit. But….it’s worth it.”
“Well, good luck!” And the young waitress strolled back to her spot near the bar.
….and in the distance, I heard a faint chuckle.
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