deep within the crevasse of my soul
i feel a need to continue this adventure
life is good, every run a sorta gift
from above no doubt, this day no different
i ran hard as i could into the wind
through the flats and through the trees
finally a hill....across the bridge
reaching the other side some travelers complete
not for me or my fellow soldiers in the wind
who enjoyed a truly ferocious stuggle
the kind you lie about for years and years
sand invaded my eyes, my ears & my shoes
like life, this run was not about me
rather a chance to decide not to quit
and so we ran, new friends and old
finishing of course, smiling and sore.
Bright and early in the morning the Mudmeister and I got into the Florida I-95 Cruiser (Chevy Van) and headed South. Not that far south; rather just to Ocean City, MD for the Inaugural Ocean City Marathon. Now I've ran a lot of First Marathons and they tend to be a bit unorganized. In fact, being a True Slug, that is exactly why I like them. And this morning did not let me down. I'm not going into details, because any marathon is a good marathon, but if you're coming next year I advise you to get there early.
The race started with a nice little crowd, including grandstands, and the spectators seemed genuinely excited. This was a very good touch on a biting cold & windy early Spring morning. The crowd included the folks running the half; so indeed there was a large starting field. I don't know the exact number, but shoved onto a two-lane road the crowd allowed me to start way in the back. And, as normal, I assumed my position. Back with the Slugs. And this crowd was full of them. But remember, just being Slow doesn't make you a Slug. It takes a certain lost mentality to go along with it. Those who seem to wander away from the start. Like, "I know the gun is about to fire, but i forgot my Caramel Creme. Don't worry, I'll catch up." These are the few, the unconcerned, the happy folks I seek to join our bumbling band of true believers.
The first ten miles or so was on back country roads, winding through the pines past old horse farms, house-trailers, and people out in their yards mowing; wondering what the heck was going on. I remember one gentleman complaining to me that this was Ocean City, why can't we run by the beach? This was a big mistake to wish for. Just past 10 or so we crossed an intercoastal bridge. By the top of the arch I was being stood straight up by the strongest winds I'd felt in a marathon since the Atlantic City "Noreaster" Marathon in 1991. Then it got even better. The next several miles were run, out and back, along the coast with not only blowing, howling, and menacing wind; but SAND to go along with it. And, the sand was in my eyes and ears, and other orifaces i'd rather not describe. Even my toes were being chafed. This was good stuff! The race memories that lies are told about, and exaggerated about for years on end. I promise you in 10 years the Mudmeister will swear we ran right through a hurricaine.
Headed back at 15 or so I bumped into Our newest Slug. Karen Nicholson, from Kansas City, MO. I certified her immediately after the race, not because she's slow, or a certified 50-Stater, or an ultramarathoner; because she is all of those things; but rather because she stated, "I'm investigating getting into and running Barkley." That was all i needed to hear. It was much funnier than any lawyer joke i've heard this year; and i love to enjoy a good laugh while i'm running. Many of you know of my Barkley experience, it "weren't" good!" In fact i was squished like a bug. And, ANYONE that is clueless enough to think they can do Barkley is genuine, absolute Slug material for SURE. So we had the regular marathon/ultra/Barkley conversation for miles and miles. And despite the incredible gusting headwinds; the Weather Channel said gusts of up to 50 mph in OC (I'm not lying Slugs), we continued our pitiful plodding. We, as the proverbial saying goes, "were passing trees and rocks like they were standing still." In fact, a small child walking to the 7-11 passed us.
It wasn't my slowest marathon of all-time - not even close - but it was a True Slug Effort. The logistics were incredibly SCREWED UP, including the Mile Markers, but I can't lie; with Karen's help i had a great time. And, i will be back if i'm still alive and kickin'. The Mudmeister nearly ran himself out of Slugdom by popping a 3:56. And he paid for it. He bled in places he'd never bled before. Us Slugs can feel his pain. Though he ran way too fast, I still like him a lot, and let him keep his t-shirt. Don't worry Charlie, I'll get him at JFK.