Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. Patrick's Run

Admittedly, the daily routine can become monotonous, a grind perhaps in its worst forms in the depths of the winter darkness. Today though, Amanda and I made a desperate step in the direction of spring by running the St. Louis St. Patrick's 5 mile run.

Over the past two and a half years I have done 3 'races' - the Chicago marathon in the fall of 2006, the St Louis half marathon in the spring of 2006, and the Louisville half marathon in the fall of 2007. Since then I have not done a 'race' until today.

Runners like so many other sub-cultures in America, have their own unique means of communication, terminology, acknowledgement of achievement and general behaviors. We arrived at the race about an hour before it began. It was quite cool so we had to engage in the endless debate of 'do I wear shorts and be freezing now or wear pants and sweat even more profusely later on.' I chose the latter. The crowd effectively embraced the 'spirit' of the occasion. Most people were dressed in green, some in kilts, and one man even had an Irish flag as a cape, face paint, and some kind of orange leprechaun shoes on. He also seemed to be having trouble making eye contact with other people. At one point, some drunk girls ran up behind the guys wearing kilts and heckled them by saying, "real Irishmen don't wear under ware, wooooo! (then some indiscernible phrases)." I wore my 'Schrute Farms Beets' shirt which was a huge hit among the fans lining the sides of the race. I got 3 "Go Schrute farms beets!" yells, and several other looks of approval. My beard also helped me fit in to the spirit as an indie leprechaun of sorts.

Race day has an energy and excitement that is hard to describe. I think its mostly due to the fact that all of the people there are highly motivated and in a happy state of mood. Everyone gets all fired up because this is the culmination of weeks, even months of training. Interestingly enough, its really easy to make friends with people along the way too. In Louisville, I ran with a couple people for a few miles, talked about ourselves and how our training went for this race and then split up only to chat with some other people.

Another hilarious aspect of the running world is how runners have absolutely no shame at all. After the race starts the world is your public restroom, as long as you can out run the cops that is. Also, you'll never hear so much complaining about chafing as you will from a group of runners mid-race. Dave Doyle esq. told me of how in one race someone had a bunch of vaseline on a cardboard box and people were just grabbing some as they ran by and 'applying' it to the 'problem areas.' Gross I know, but it illustrates the point perfectly.

After the race is over there is a general air of congratulations. Even if you don't do as well as you would have liked, hey, you just ran [X] miles, lets go get a beer. Unfortunately I gave up alcohol for Lent. I also gave up complaining so even if I was upset about my lack of a post race beer, you'd never hear it from me.


quote of the day:

His harp was carved and cunning,
As the Celtic craftsman makes,
Graven all over with twisting shapes
Like many headless snakes.

His harp was carved and cunning,
His sword prompt and sharp,
And he was gay when he held the sword,
Sad when he held the harp.

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.

-G.K. Chesterton from "The Ballad of the White Horse"


Anonymous said...

I always assumed they wore no underwear under those kilts, but have always been too timid to ask.

Maybe that is why they need to partake of such good amounts of good old Irish whiskey.

Strictly medicinal, to keep warm.

John said...

I'd like to make one correction. The St. Louis half marathon that we won together was ran in the spring of 2007.

That is all.