With approximately six kilos of meat making its way through twenty-five feet of intestines, I slept pretty well until the alarm blared at 4:30 am. Resuming the role of Delta-sponsored travel zombie, I shuffled onto the overstuffed hotel shuttle and arrived in Findlay about lunch time. After an afternoon of catching up, I punched www.ohiorunner.com into the web browser. Given decent hotel treadmill slogs and outdoor clumps, it would be good to see what I had at a pre-Saturday-morning-basketball practice 5k.
Scanning listings, I found this.
Held in memory of Jodie Stearns, a Bowling Green lawyer, avid runner and pickle farmer, Bloomdale's event began at 8:30 am. Stearns died in a hit and run accident while jogging country roads. Her coward murderer -- and I don't feel that's too strong a word to describe someone who runs over another human and leaves the scene -- has never been found. Hitting the martini shaker that evening, I toasted her memory and decided to chase the Pickle.
To offset the infernal cucumber's awesome dill power, I tugged on the gray LOSER Pride t-shirt Saturday morning. That didn't seem to provide quite enough jogging mo-jo given today's super high stakes (sloggers beating the Pickle received a special prize). Needing an additional boost, I yanked on the Green Lantern boxer shorts: attire both kids forbade me from ever wearing anywhere near them. With luck, the combination of LOSER-Green Lantern might just be enough to defeat Pickle power.
Actual shorts on display at Meijer. Get some while they're on closeout sale.
Arriving at beautiful Elmwood High School at 8:15 am, I registered, received yet another event t-shirt and encountered a vexing problem: the shirt was yellow. A terrible development given this morning's beat the Pickle challenge. For, as you well know, Green Lantern's stupendous power ring -- while able to conjure untold miracles (basically anything the wearer can imagine) -- has absolutely no power over anything yellow. Dern it all!
Unable to fight comic-book logic, I tucked the nemesis shirt into the car and joined 255 participants on the two-lane country road in front of the school. In the middle of the pack twenty yards ahead: the dreaded female Pickle outfit in a green t-shirt with black pickle designs, green shorts, green socks and a green baseball cap. Post national anthem, Pickle Chasing began. Stuck among the dilly-dallying masses on the narrow country road, I attempted to dodge bodies as the Pickle raced ahead, increasing the distance between us with vinegar-laden power. Fifty yards into the event, I felt the patella knee brace slipping. Three dozen strides later, it fell off the knee and down to my ankle, useless.
With three miles left to rumble, I faced a critical decision:
1) Stop to reattach the brace
2) Keep clumping
Clearly, a right and a wrong choice existed. The right: stopping for thirty seconds to reattach the black brace and protect the wounded knee from further damage. The wrong: continue clumping in a stupid, short-sighted effort to finish faster than at the Docs and Socks 5k and maybe beat the Pickle too. Being a reasonable, responsible adult, I trust you understand the choice I made.
Loose brace straps bouncing around my calf, I caught the clumping cucumber halfway into mile one and strode beside her for the remainder of it. Thanks to adrenaline, the unprotected knee felt fine as the Pickle and I strode across mile one at 7:15. A time slightly quicker than the Docs and Socks pace and on track to finish under twenty-three minute. Either I sped up or the Pickle slowed because she disappeared as I jogged the country road loop and crossed mile two at 14:50. Slower than mile one, but, if I picked it up a little, twenty-three minutes remained within reach. Even better, the lungs and the knee felt fine.
Heading into the last turn before the final half mile dash to the finish line on the track within Elmwood High School's football stadium, a commotion arose behind me. The cause: a late-race reappearance of the indefatigable cucumber. Propelled by the yellowish tint of pure vinegar, the Pickle passed my hapless form. With the patella brace bouncing every which way, I faced another "important" choice: to continue clumping the current pace and finish behind the Pickle or to attempt to pick it up one more time to catch, and maybe even defeat, Ms. Dill herself.
Being a practical, mature adult, you know what I did.
Stomping past the pickle-covered menace, size fourteens stormed across the gravel path and onto the track inside Elmwood High School's stadium. With my green-clothed adversary somewhere not-so-far behind, I bumbled a quarter of the way around the track before hearing the booth announcer bellow.
"The Pickle has entered the stadium."
Tepid cheers rose from the scattered crowd. Working to ignore rising Pickle pressure, I pushed the tired form forward, reminding myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. LOSER/Green Lantern power, although clearly weakened by the abundance of yellow race shirts, might still be enough to beat the evil cucumber.
With two hundred yards remaining, the speakers re-bellowed.
"The Pickle's kicking it in, she's passing runners."
Don't look back, I mumbled to myself. Keep those size fourteens moving. You can do it; you can overcome the sea of yellow to beat the Pickle. A hundred feet from the finish, the announcer yelled.
"Here comes the Pickle!"
Refusing to glance backward and succumb to her overwhelming dill power, I pushed toward the finish. Only a few more steps and I'd defeat the galloping cucumber. Rumbling, bumbling and stumbling, I crossed the line at 23:16. The Pickle's official finish time: also 23:16. But -- and this was critical -- I crossed first.
33 Badu, Jim M 46 23:16
34 Ashton, Diana PICKLE F 44 23:16
The official race results spell VICTORY for Badu!
Snagging the awesome bonus for besting the dreaded cucumber -- a snack size bag of pickle-flavored chips -- I handed them to the concession stand folks to resell and strolled into the finishers' tent. Icing the knee, I thought about today's pseudo triumph. The awesome combination of LOSER-Green Lantern power enabled me to beat both the Pickle and the Docs and Socks' 5k finishing time.
In retrospect, stopping to tug the patella brace into place would have prevented either of those. Of course, if I'd stopped, neither the back nor the knee would still hurt. And maybe more importantly, if I acted my age, I wouldn't be wearing Green Lantern boxers to races or would I?
Given their Pickle Chasing success, should Green Lantern shorts become the new travel attire too? Can LOSER-Green Lantern power challenge mighty Delta? You make the call, lol.