My fellow bachelor partygoers and I left Progressive Field after the Cleveland Indians won in dramatic (i.e., awesome) fashion, with the recently returned Jim Thome hitting his 602nd home run, then all-star short stop Asdrubal Cabrera driving in the winning runs with a three-run bomb in the eighth inning, and finally Pure Rage Chris Perez earning another save after a gambit to throw out the lead runner at third base and then striking out the last two batters. But you didn't come here for a recap of the ballgame. And so we walked over to East 4th Street to finish off our revelry.
Four of us had started the day with a few hours of paintball, a surprisingly fun time where I eventually reenacted Willem Defoe's final scene in Platoon, after capturing the flag and attempting to run through no-man's land. Unbeknownst to me, my fellow teammates had already perished, and I had no cover from the barrage of paint that pelted me to my demise. I hoped this wasn't foreshadowing.
Our wargames worked up a powerful thirst, and so we picked up a few 12-packs of beer and a case of water on the way to the hotel to check in and wash the paint from our hair. After the rest of my "crew boys" arrived, we headed to Great Lakes Brewery for a tour and dinner at the brewpub. (N.B., you'll have to ask the Enthusiast for an explanation of "crew boys," which refers to a dream she had recently.)
I started to feel unwell partway through the tour. The hot brewery made me feel nauseous, and my head started to hurt. I had to sit down to finish my beer samples. Earlier, when we stopped for beers on the way to the hotel, I had realized I was hungry and possibly suffering the early effects of caffeine withdrawal, as I had neglected my morning coffee. At the gas station, I grabbed a hot dog, potato chips, and a bottled iced vanilla latte.
Thinking I needed more caffeine, I asked my best man to get me a cola before eating, which I downed quickly so I could move onto beer. For dinner, I had Great Lakes' delicious bratwurst and pierogi dinner, a Celler Dweller (i.e., German style lager), and finally a Big Black Smoke (i.e., my favorite pub exclusive brew). We also had a couple appetizers for the table: two orders of the pub's homemade pretzels and a crock of spinach and artichoke dip with pita bread and banana peppers.
I ate my three pierogis, but the two brats weren't sitting well. I barely ate half of one, feeling like I was about to prematurely cross the Puke Threshold with each bite. I downed a couple glasses of water as I sipped the Celler Dweller. With my stomach feeling iffy, the only other food that tasted good were the pretzels. This didn't bode well for proper fueling for my race.
I only started feeling better after the Martini ordered me the Big Black Smoke. The thick, smoky porter seemed to settle my stomach. And so I drank it quickly before we rode the Fatty Wagon over to the game.
The Fatty Wagon is a bus service run by Great Lakes to take customers to Cleveland's sporting complexes on game days. Its name derives from the fact that the bus runs on the used frying oil from the brewpub kitchen. Only a dollar for a ride.
Finally feeling better after not eating much and arriving at a more soothing beverage choice, we got to the ballpark where our only convenient choice for beverages was Miller Lite. And so we drank quite a bit of it.
A few innings into the game, Martini reminded that in less than 12 hours, we'd be running a half marathon. He of course was attempting to actually run well at the race and had abstained from all but a sampler of the Big Black Smoke.
After the game, our group pared down to four again, but a slightly different four from the morning. We went to Flannery's, an Irish pub that had a band and some very comfortable couches for us to shoot the proverbial shit and watch passersby on East 4th from the giant window.
After a Guinness and a cherry bomb (my brother's choice of shooter), we walked across the street to Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant and tequileria. I was hoping to get some food there, but the kitchen was closed. They had Modelo Especial on draft, and my brother asked to see their expansive tequila menu.
Zocola has a number of tequila tasting flights, and we got two of them to split between us. Do you want to know how they tasted? Go to the restaurant and order the Ambassador flight because that's about all I remember of them. The first one, I recall, was pretty decent. The second one slightly twisted my stomach. And the third twisted the rest of me.
Remember when I mentioned that moment of doubt? Here it was.
From there, we went to a douchebag infested dance club called Cadillac Ranch, which has a mechanical bull immediately upon entering the bar. I used the bathroom and rejoined my groomsmen, who had a bottle of Bud Light waiting for me. I had a couple sips as I repeatedly refused to ride said bull. Thankfully, the bar closed and forced us to leave before there was any attempt to strongarm me to my eight seconds of fame, or half second of shame.
Back at the hotel, we drank one final beer. Then I cracked one of my two bottles of Gatorade and downed that with a bottle of water and a tablet of Alka-Setzer. Before going to sleep, I managed to arrange a wake-up call and set my phone alarm for the race. In about three hours, I'd have to wake up again.
Note to Readers
This is already long, but I don't like making multipart blog posts. So if you need a break, take one now. The actual race report follows.
The wake-up call came at 5:50 a.m. My phone alarm went off 10 minutes later. Finally, Martini sent a text message and another and another before I finally engaged my brain and responded. This tiny bit of communication was what really woke me up.
I was in the elevator at 6:27 a.m., and the continental breakfast wasn't supposed to open for another three minutes. I stopped by anyway, hoping they'd let me snag something to eat. Nobody was around, but there were bagels and bananas out. I had wanted to hit the road by no later than 6:30, but it was more like 6:40.
The Enthusiast called me to say she was also on the road and hoped to make it there in time to see me start. She was dealing with her own Puke Threshold after her bachelorette party in Ohio's wine country.
Without much traffic and a fairly straight shot down the interstate, I managed to get to the race by 7:10 a.m., with 50 minutes before race start. I was diligent about drinking water and electrolytes and slowly eating an energy bar. I was not so diligent about my race gear preparations.
Yes, I had brought everything from my list. I just didn't use it all. I had on the basics: shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, and bib number. I pulled on my new favorite Buckeye hoodie to keep warm on this cool, late August morning and went to go find Martini. I finished my breakfast and jumped in line for the portable toilets.
|The 2011 Buckeye Half Marathon & Relay hoodie.|
Not sure if I was just tired, hungover, or still a little drunk, I slowly walked the half mile to the start, as everyone else was getting in their warm-up jogs, which I considered doing and then quickly dismissed of the idea. I needed this time to think and realize all I had forgotten.
Timing device? Well, at least that's one less reminder of how slow I'd be running. Medical tape? That's unfortunate for my nipples. Skin lubricant? I couldn't even find it while I was packing the day before.
I lined up almost at the very back of the pack. My combination Parrott-McMillan race prediction was a 2:14:38 finish, based on the previous two weeks of training. I only scooted up a few places trying to find anyone I knew, but still I was well back of the 2:10 pacer. And just like that we were off.
The first five miles or so was all about sweating out the toxins and catching up on sleep, as I ran with my eyes half closed, catching myself as I swerved off track. I caught up to Julie @ ROJ Running, and we ran a few miles together.
As I neared the completion of the first loop, I started to feel pretty good. If I had felt like this at the start of the race, I might have had a new personal best, but I was still on track for a solid personal worst. This good feeling lasted only a few miles before it gave way to exhaustion.
The sun came out and the humidity rose for the final five kilometers. My legs started to feel the effects of my undertraining. The only thing that propelled me forward was that I was still picking off runners. I was happy to repass two guys who had blown past me earlier at the relay exchange (a new race feature).
I continued to walk through each water stop. And at the last one, by Szalay's farm, I drank a sip and dumped the rest over my head to cool me off for the final push down Riverview Road and up the final hill to Howe Meadow.
Rounding the corner off Bolanz Road, I picked my mark to help motivate me to a strong finish: a man in a red shirt who passed me just before that last cup of water. He hadn't created much separation, despite my little walk break.
I didn't reel in my target until I reached the top of the last hill. I parked myself behind him as we approached the railroad crossing and entered Howe Meadow. The man in red slowed on the rocky terrain of the park's access road. I was nervous of passing him now with the approach of the sharp hairpin turn before the final tenth of a mile. But I did. I weaved around another runner and cut the last corner tight.
There was not much effort left to give, and so I ignored good form and expanded my stride for the final sprint. I had hoped to catch the 2:10 group, but finished with 2:11 and change, my new personal worst securely in the books. At least I beat my pre-race predicted time.
Post Race Revelry?
Despite the Martini wanting me to join him and extend my bachelor party after the race, I chose bed instead. I downed a small plate of pasta, and the Enthusiast and I headed home. My last race as a bachelor is over.
There is but a month until the Akron Marathon. Each remaining run prepares me for my first race as married man, and another personal record: my post-wedding PR.