So far, so good, this year. There have been several 5Ks, one 8K, and countless private runs. We've even started a Friday running and walking group at work. I had my doubts about running in a social group, because I usually run like I drink. Alone. Okay, so that's a joke if you didn't get it. Running is my opportunity for silence and solitude, my moving meditation, my opportunity to think things through or to not think at all. What can I say? It's an introverted thing. You might not understand. And don't worry because you really don't have to understand.
February's stress fracture, the one that apparently even showed up on an x-ray, healed a little faster than usual, and I was back in the saddle when Monday, I noticed a bit of tightness. Wednesday, the tightness was soreness. Of course, I'm always tight and sore somewhere, but this was different, and it didn't take long to determine that left Hip Adductor was strained. No, I have no idea. It just happened.
The problem was that in three days, the Spartan Sprint was scheduled in Charlotte. This motivated me to start an intense schedule of getting better. Yeah, like that's gonna work, but walking that Friday did seem to help, and it was with a wary mind that I set forth to Charlotte Friday afternoon.
Not to temp a deity or anything, but I was somehow going to run that course come hell or high water. Or in my case, Celebrex.
Following a quiet evening in a Hampton and a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, I'm dressed and off to the Spartan Sprint. Three miles or 5K with a bunch of obstacles. It might have been 45F degrees, but at least, the morning showers had passed. Yes, it was cold.
The check-in went like clockwork. It was obvious that the heats were leaving as scheduled in 15-minute intervals. Everything was running smoothly, and I strolled about to take in the sights without engaging too many people. That's me: The guy off to the side, maybe towards the back. In this case, the guy with five layers on top, two layers of tights, dry shoes, a skull cap, and leather fingerless gloves. Somewhere, there has to be an FBI profile for that. It's probably labeled as The Guy Who's Not Cold.
But not to worry, there were many hot-natured people there. Shirtless men in baggy shorts, though a few were in tights. The ubiquitous women from the magazine ads. You know the body type. Hard and skinny as a rail. Jog bra. Boy shorts. Running shoes. Now, let me be clear. If I could look like that, I'd be in boy shorts too, even if it meant that I'd next be on the medic's gurney receiving attention for hypothermia.
And so we ran exactly on schedule. I took it slow to favor my grumpy adductor, and the first mile was a pure delight as it passed through a pine forest. The soft and inviting silence of a piney wood punctuated by distant breathing. At the end of that first mile, we saw the first obstacle. Walls. Over, under, and through. Then we waded through the head of a pond where the muck was easily four feet deep. With hidden fallen trees. The fellow in front of me was running on a blade. He took it off, jumped one-legged into the mud, and howled in laughter as he sprawled and rolled from one point to the next, proceeding without hesitation to deny the fate that took his leg the opportunity to take his life.
I love that man.
And on it went. At the end of the fourth mile, we had to crawl a hundred yards in thick red mud under barbed wire. I used every technique to move except the belly crawl because I knew the lateral leg kicks would not sit well with Grumpy Hip Adductor, which so far had been only lightly vocal. Better living through chemistry, I suppose. One such technique is to roll, and that works well, at least until it's time to go uphill. Yes, they built this obstacle on motocross camel humps. Bastards. So I rolled over, flipped, and kicked into a belly crawl. It was instinctive. It was perfect technique. It was also a real attention getter as I heard the rip. Of course, that ripping sound was from the tape along my inner thigh, not the muscle directly under the tape, but at that moment and for the several that followed, it really didn't matter.
With that in mind, I stood to exit the mud, and did so concurrently with one of the hot chicks in jog bra and hot shorts. We were both coated in red mud, top to bottom. We appraised one another, both with complete sexual disinterest, agreed that we survived with honor, and then she trotted off down the path, leaving me to walk rapidly as I favored Grumpy Hip Adductor while wondering how she managed to be so completely coated in red mud with a single exception. Well, a pair of exceptions. Her nipples, cold under the thin fabric of the black jog bra, stood in stark relief, unmuddied relief, against her backdrop of thick red mud. Go figure.
Why am I so sure the photographer captured her image in abundance while leaving Grandpa to slog on down the road?