I now know what running the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon a month and a half from now is going to feel like.
As I write this Sunday (and as I edit this Monday) my hips feel like hinges being forced open after years of unmovement. I get into and out of chairs using my arms. Random muscles in my back are sore. The arches of my feet have yet to forgive me. These are the physical aftershocks of my first 12-mile run, the closest I’ve got to a full simulation.
I must say, it feels fantastic.
I forced the discovery upon myself on a day I was most unfit for discovery. I began the day with a blissfully fattening truck-stop breakfast: Chicken-fried steak, gravy-soaked hashed browns, bacon, eggs, and Texas toast. The spread looked straight off a lineman’s Facebook page. I chased it with a Honey Weiss back home, and chased that with footsteps of varying intensities for a dozen miles.
There wasn’t much to be learned within the first six miles, aside from “If you’re going to run an MP3 player and a GPS-driven exercise app on your phone, make sure its battery is above 40 percent.” If not, it will stay alive for only the first 5.97 miles. I ran for what I guessed was another 0.03 miles (half a block okay?) and turned around.
The song playing at the time of its death? “Run” by Flock of Seagulls.
And I ruuun, I run so far away …
I didn’t just run six miles from home; I ran to a different city. I had never done that before. “I ran to Cottage Grove”: That sounds even better than mileage! Within Cottage Grove are a great family butcher shop and a liquor store steered by passionate management … that I haven’t shopped in over a year because I don’t want to drive so far. Saturday, I learned I’m kind of an idiot.
I know beer dehydrates a body, and that isn’t ideal for running, but it really sank in Saturday around mile eight. I spat saliva with an oddly wet-paper consistency. My palms felt like birch bark. My lips got so dry, I’d lick them incessantly — this made them stick shut, but achieved little else. The final miles were a delicate cycle of running until my calves threatened to knot up, and walking until I felt willing to try them again.
There will be water stops along the race track, right? I know it starts at 6:15 a.m., but I get nervous, and I feel like a Belgian strong would make a great pre-race beverage, but I don’t want this to happen again.
I got home and laid in the shower for a bit, let the water cascade off my torso like Tyrese used to do in his videos. The last mile won’t be a problem come race day; and, if this is how bad I’ll feel at the finish line, I can handle that. I’m fine walking funny for a few days. There’s a stark discrepancy between “knowing you can do it because it makes sense mathematically” and “knowing you can do it because you’re 12/13 experienced.”
The only tragedy of this experiment was the sandwich I never got to ask my wife to make at mile six. Charge those phones, guys. You don’t want to finish a half-marathon, then limp into the kitchen to make your own sandwich.
You can learn more about the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon here.