If you had any doubt about my life being a complete cluster-f*k at times, this morning should cement your opinion.
I was up early and ready for the Music City Thanksgiving 4 Miler and carrying my new “smile attitude” for good measure. I went through a short warm-up routine in the basement that includes running in place, some push ups, and foam rolling to one of my go-to albums, “F*k This Shit We’re Outta Here,” by The Pimps. My dog circled me with her squeaky toy and my legs felt good, even after a 3.8 mile run with the East Nasties last night.
I left home at 7:30 for the 8:00 race and found myself in the back of a huge line of traffic around 7:40 at LP Field. I couldn’t understand how a 500 person race could cause this much back up at an NFL football stadium with thousands of parking slots. I found out soon enough.
After ten minutes I finally pulled into the ONE section they opened for race parking and a lady walks up to me and asked if I paid yet.
“Um, paid for what?”
“Yeah, it’s 5 bucks?”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Don’t blame us, it’s the race organizer.”*
“I don’t have any cash.”
So, ten minutes to race time and I’m scrambling through the scrap yards and back alleys near LP Field looking for a parking spot, but there are cops everywhere screaming, “You can’t park there!”
I spin around the corner, and cut through the actual race course, loop all the way around the stadium and find a lot that takes credit cards. But, of course, the machine wasn’t working. I had to risk it and started running toward the start line. I turned the corner and saw the lead runners tearing off into the sunset. I missed the start!
Five hundred runners tore past me and I played Frogger to get through them and find the registration tent. The nice lady gave me my bib and ripped off my timing chip which I put on my shoe. I circled back around the start line, hit my watch, and raced after the racers.
I didn’t catch the first walker until point 3 miles into the race. Then it was navigation time as I slipped and slid through the massive throng of people in front of me. We curled through the “infamous parking area” and landed at the bottom of the imposing Shelby Street Bridge.
My hands and legs were cold, but my pace was blistering (for me). I hit the first mile mark around 7:15 and flew down the backside of the bridge with my goal of sub 30 minutes in tact. We weaved through the downtown construction, past the Rescue Mission, then up to the new roundabout near the spectacular Music City Center. It was a short steep hill that caught me off guard and hurt.
At the top of that hill we turned right onto Demonbreun and it was a four block downhill, so I trusted my ailing knee and pounded onward. I was cooking pretty good and passing people left and right. I used my new smiling technique coupled with parking anger to fuel my time, which was right on pace.
I staggered mid-way up the Shelby Bridge, but kept a steady 8 minute pace. Once on top, it was on again and I blasted down the backside feeling strong as we turned left toward the home stretch. I didn’t look at the race clock, but clicked stop on my watch as I crossed the finish line and it read 28:51. A solid minute under my goal and a 7:15 pace.
Like a turkey that escaped the kill, I proudly walked to the finish table where I saw fellow Fab Fiver, Daniel, who was time keeper for the race. I asked him to look up my number but he didn’t have a time for me. His buddy looked at my shoe and noticed I wasn’t wearing the right timing strip. It was still on my bib and didn’t register.
Okay, so lessons did we learn, kids?
1. Show up early to races flush with cash to grease unexpected parking officials.
2. Never trust nice old ladies to tie on your timing chips.
3. Listen to the Pimps to get you pumped up.
4. Smile in the face of it.
* Edit: I now see an email warning us about parking and evidently it is LP Field’s policy. Note to LP Field: Just because your football team sucks doesn’t mean you have to.