Altitude Sickness

The last steps I’ll run

Br Brady Crain

So, Dallas. I love Dallas. My family is in Dallas. Five uncles and aunts, 15 cousins, uncounted first cousins twice removed. All of these people migrated from the scene of the original crime in Newton and Wichita, Kansas (GO SHOCKERS), and they are now strung out between Norman, Okla. (GO SOONERS) and Austin, Texas (HOOKEM LONGHORNS). If any of you are Red Raider fans, I apologize. If any of you are Texas A&M fans, I’ll type slower. And for those of you that are Aggies, that was an insult that you probably didn’t get.

All football-related insults aside, this week did not go as I thought it would. After losing all motivation to train, I came into Dallas and did some two-a-day runs, 5K each, while mooning at the Killington snow conditions page like a kid in a violin lesson looking out at his friends playing baseball on a sunny day. In the course of doing this, I broke my foot. I didn’t have it X-rayed, but I have had enough broken bones in my feet that I know what it feels like. (When I was a fighter, there was no off season, so every time I kicked an elbow or a knee the bone that broke stayed broken until it healed in two pieces—it’s called an “open sesamoid”—giving me extra bones in each foot).

This injury occurred on my Tuesday evening run. On Wednesday, aside from the discomfort of the fractured ball of my foot, it was overly warm . . . it was, like, 70 degrees, and running at above the temperature of 63 degrees (which I detest) is uncomfortable. Clearly, I am not a fan of warm weather.

Listen to me whining about a sore foot and some sweat. You’d never imagine that I did the Spartan Ultra!

On the day of the race, I registered, waited a half hour in line for a Porta-potty, and then made my way to the starting pen for the timed racers (keep in mind that 10,000-20,000 people run or walk this race annually), the entry to which was closed.

However, the deadline for entering into the pen was not mentioned anywhere in the race materials. But there was a steady stream of racers sneaking in through a gap in the fence, so I joined them. I was then confronted bodily by a race volunteer, who put a bullhorn in my face, turned on the siren, tried to shove me (he didn’t succeed), and then tried to remove my race bib. Apparently there are significant security concerns regarding this race, and people who pay to enter this race need to be prevented at all costs from fulfilling their participation should they arrive a moment or so late.

I have relatively quick reflexes, and so I continued walking with the other unmolested sneaky racers and made it clear to the rather forceful volunteer that the further his hand got away from me with my bib in it, the further his pinkie would get away from him. He made a considered and intelligent decision to let go, and I surrendered control of his pinkie and made my way into the crowd.

There were enough people in the timed pen that I didn’t want to fuss with fighting my way to the front, so when I made it to the start line five minutes after the start of the race, I turned my tracker on and timed myself from there.

The first half mile of the race was very very slow, the people packed together like sausages in, well, in a box of sausages (they can’t all be diamonds, people). After a half mile or so it thinned out, and I was able to start cranking. The first mile was very slow, and my second mile was very fast, perhaps the fastest I have run in a very long time. I slowed down toward the end because my foot began to bother me and my legs weren’t quite up for the pace that I maintained.

I finished the race in exactly 24 minutes start to finish. I am relatively certain that if the beginning of the race had been clear I would have hit my target time of 21 minutes handily, but due to the crowded conditions I will never know.

As I now sit in a rather posh lounge at DFW eating complimentary food, I think about this place I love, with a whole bunch of football teams I hate (seriously . . . cowboys? Who roots for them?) leaving the land of unrealistically good-looking, super-fit tanned women with plastic body parts (seriously . . . every woman I met who was under 50 had fake breasts and talked about them endlessly, and I was ecstatic to participate in the conversation) and head back to the land of cold, pale, hairy, angry people… but I am thankful.

I am thankful for family, for my anger management and conflict resolution skills, for airplanes, for fancy lounges that my American Express card gets me into, but most of all I am thankful THAT I WILL NEVER EVER HAVE TO RUN ANOTHER STEP. I will not even run if someone is chasing me. I will not run to catch a bus. If I need to run to save someone’s life, that person is going to die . . . sorry! I will ignore the sage advice of Iron Maiden, and I will not run to the hills. I will not run for my life. Hell, I won’t even run for office. I will stop wearing panty-hose because they might run. NO MORE RUNNING!

Finally, I hope that you all had a good murder/disease spreading land-stealing day (otherwise known as Thanksgiving).

Now I just need to clean my gun and get ready for the war on Christmas.

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