Monday, October 28, 2013

24 Hour (or 13) National Championship Report!

You know that thing when you're gliding along at mile 82, just smiling and joking with the folks you're passing, and then suddenly you're declared all but legally dead at mile 83 for no apparent reason?

Yeah, that's basically my race report for this past weekend's 24 Hour National Championship out in lovely Oklahoma City.  The Handsome Cowboy of Race Directing, Chisholm Deupree, hosted this year's 24 hour family reunion in a nicely wooded park on the north side of OKC. Sure, it was a little rainy and windy and cold, but we've all signed up for races that intentionally boast extreme weather in all of those categories, so all of the sky's activity basically amounted to a nothing more than a bonus distraction for us to talk about as we looped the park all day and night.

Oh, and I also earned the right to check the box marked "Ran a race during which a city's tornado warning siren sounded for 5 minutes" on my lifetime bucket list. So that was convenient.

Lots of hugs and handshakes were shared with with friends I only get to see every couple of years. Physically catching up with them on the course in order to conversationally catch up with them was the weekend's highlight. There are some genuine, good people in this sport.

Having to stop, rather suddenly, after 83ish miles and only 13+ hours of running has me lacking any useful info to relay in terms of the race report, but I did kill some time with a bic while flying out to OKC for the race, so I'll conclude this unorthodox race report by transcribing the following in-flight thoughts, which no doubt would have served as the opening to my real race know, if I actually ran the whole race.

I'm currently flying somewhere over the clouds in between DC and OKC. It's the penultimate eve before this great country's 24 hour national championship, and I'm finding it quite enjoyable to be sitting on United Airlines finest 1970's era flying air machine.

The Airline Downside: After decades of use, all that remains of my seat is nothing more than a thin cut of leather tautly stretched over what I can only assume is the world's largest diamond. I say that not to claim my bottom is presently perched upon untold riches, but rather to recall my high school chemistry lesson in which I learned, on the hardness scale, that talc and diamond represent the extreme ends.

The Up, Up, and Away Upside: When the electrical engineers designed this plane immediately upon returning from their brave service in the Korean War, they didn't need to worry about equipping the passenger cabin with fancy technological advances like, well, anything other than an overhead light. This means, quite delightfully, that I am sitting here without access to any video or audio entertainment. Pen is hitting paper right now and I couldn't be happier - I need a few hours to start sloooooowing things down in my head right now. Uncle Danno is tired.

Sometimes races fall perfectly in step with the rest of your real life schedule. Sometimes they fall this week:

1) Work is moving at a billion mile per hour pace these days, and I know this because I find myself saying things like, "I really need to get up and hit the bathroom, but..." multiple times daily.  

2) At home, Sammy, who I couldn't love more, apparently couldn't love sleeping past 5:30am any less this past week. He's the only person in the world right now who would actually look forward to those obscenely early 100 mile start times.

3) The stupid Red Sox are in the World Series again. I mean really, it's great and all, but these baseball playoff games are so long that they just finished playing the 2007 Series last week. ...and yes, you can ask "Why don't you just not watch these games and go to sleep?". Well, I, and everyone else in Boston, will happily give you 86 years worth of reasons why you don't take something like this for granted!

The bottom line: Brain cells aren't just being fried this week, they're permanently wedged at the bottom of a wire cooking basket at a State Fair concession stand. The faint, muffled echoes of REO Speedwagon - or at least their former bassist and three other guys claiming to be REO Speedwagon - could be heard in the distance when I closed my eyes to pass out for a small handful of hours each night this week.

Despite (or perhaps in step with) all of the above evidence of my imminent mental collapse, I'm pretty darn happy to have the chance to run around a paved circle for 24 hours on Saturday.  Yes, I may collapse with fatigue or death at some point, but along the way there will be no cell phones or emails or meetings or...anything, really, other than left-right-left, left-right-left. I can definitely smile and relax while doing that!

Funny how it played out pretty much exactly as I predicted. I would have loved to run the whole time and continued to finish that report, but it wasn't in the cards this time around. Running these races is usually a pretty miserable experience at one point or another, but the company we keep out there keeps us all coming back. I'm looking forward to being miserable among friends again soon!