Saturday, April 14, 2012

Martian Marathon, My Inner Stooge, and The Stages of Grief

I ran the Martian Marathon Half-marathon this morning, and now I'm trying to find all the sore spots on my body.  I have a pack of frozen peas that have been in my freezer for probably 4 years, no joke, which I take out quite often to ice my calves, knees, feet, and today, my arse (well, my hip). The day I stop running, or the day they bust open, I will have to actually eat them in some sort of ceremonial gesture.

The Martian Marathon is Michigan's answer to a spring marathon for all of those who can't make it to Boston.  And as any Little Engine that could, it's got everything the Big Engine does not.

For one, unlike the big city marathons expos where I feel swamped and trapped, the expo is not so claustrophobic, but is plenty full of goodies and good cheer. If you've seen the Chicago or Boston expo once, you've seen enough, and I never really feel too comfortable there. The Martian Marathon has a sense of humor and thematic swag all about.

A healthy sized expo

The mile markers in waiting

If you went to the bathroom you saw this

The course itself is hillier than described, in this wimp-man's opinion, and with a couple of bridges where I swear you are in some sort of time warp. Right in the middle of the bridge I am pretty darn sure there is a wormhole, and when you step on it, your foot goes temporarily into another dimension. If you ran today, you know what I mean.

What I like about these smaller events is you are much more likely to see runners you know, and you can cheer on friends and acquaintances rather than strangers. There are familiar faces everywhere, and the guy who hands you your medal is the same guy who sold you the shoes that you are wearing.. 

Have you ever been to a big city marathon and found no line at the port a potty? Well, there was No waiting at the Martian. Yes, you heard me right, there was no wait. Zero. In fact, I think the plastic pod I went in was there just for me.

(Okay, I realize some of the above may be just be one huge rationalization for not being at Boston this weekend, but I do mean all that I say.)

Now here's the bad part. My plan was to turn the half marathon into a 18-20 mile training run for the Ann Arbor marathon two months away, and I was supposed to meet fellow, and near legendary blogger, Jeff from DetroitRunner to do a few miles before the event. I left on time, called him on my cell to confirm I would be there, but that's when my inner stooge came out. I had misinterpreted the directions, went the wrong way on Michigan Avenue, and then once I back tracked, hit some traffic and was twenty minutes late.

AHhhh!!  You can mess with a man's beer and his dog and other things, but not with his final long run three weeks out before his main event (which for him is the Flying Pig in Cinci.)  Fortunately I tracked him down during the event, ran with him for a bit, and learned he didnt' curse me too harshly and was able to get in 6.5 of his 7 miles. I ran 5 beforehand, so it was an 18 miler..

That was only part of the tragedy.  At the start, I had on my Ipod as always with a brand new killer playlist, and as the chute moved and I walked to the start, I pressed play, only to have the 12 year old Ipod freeze up on me. 

AHHHH!!! part 2.
I went through all the stages of grief.
Denial - no, no way is this happening, as I press every button sixteen times.
Anger - Damn it damn it, why now?
Bargaining - okay, it will work in a few minutes, it's just resting (electronics rest?) it will work soon
Depression -its dead, my ipod's dead, and I'm surrounded by lucky runners who have their tunes.
Acceptance - I ended up talking it up with some wonderful runners which I otherwise would have missed.

(Perspective was gained, however, when I came upon a runner with "Running For A Free Syria" written on the back of her shirt.)

So, thanks to Running Fit for a great event.  I am a bit sad you aren't putting on the Ann Arbor Marathon.

And by the way, in honor of this big Boston Marathon Weekend, my novel The Jade Rabbit, about a miraculous marathon run, is free on Kindle for three days, Monday through Wednesday.  (pushed back a day due to Amazon's weird calendar)

Pick it up if you haven't. If not, the hard copy's available at the Running Fit stores.

"The Jade Rabbit" - $3.99 on Amazon

Reviews of The Jade Rabbit


Detroit Runner(Jeff) said...

As I said, no worries! Bummer on the ipod. I'm probably going to have to get a new one too. I have an older shuffle where the buttons are on the cord. It dies every 2-6 months from running outside. They keep replacing it but I'm on like the 8th one and getting tired of taking my time to go there and wait. Great weather today overall - I was a little worried when I got there. The expo does look nice. I would have gone if it weren't an hour away.

Mark Matthews said...

Yes, it's all good in the end, (because if it's not good, it's not the end.)

My ipod is now working, by the way, but it took 6 hours. I guess it did need rest.

Vaudiophile said...

I had my mp3 player go out during the Al Kayner last year, and I've actually almost totally abandoned running with music because it's much more fun to listen to people and spectators.

Mark Matthews said...

Yes, there is a small disconnect with the crowd, but I don't feel like it's much, and I think the music helps me 'connect' with myself. Actually have a post on this coming soon. Thanks for writing. On my way to your blog now.

Mary Ellen said...

Some wisecracks in our family might say MOWK - EAT YOUR PEAS, but not me-- I am rooting for that bag to live as long as Grandma! You runners always amaze me. And I was just at my doctors ofc carrying JADE RUNNER and the nurse asked me about it so I will have to tell her about your offer. But I know that like me, she prefers print media. Since I only get a few minutes each day to sit and read, I'm not far into it but am liking it. STRAY was just taken down to Florida to loan to the kids down there.

Mark Matthews said...

Hey Mary Ellen, thanks for reading and commenting. I didn't make the connection to the bag of peas and my "mark, eat your peas" trauma. Hmmm, maybe there is some sort of unresolved issue where I'm trying to use that which hurt me to heal me. Thanks for supporting the books! Free on Kindle starts tomorrow. Hope all is well.

One Little Jill said...

All the big expo's I have been to (Philly 3 times, Boston, Shamrock, Baltimore..etc) overwhelm me. All the people rushing to get their free items (usually not the racers) and pushing with their 234897 kids. I feel much better at smaller venues, or even better, working the expo!

Mark Matthews said...

Ah, so I am not alone in liking the smaller expos! yes, they are overwhelming and the last thing you need for pre-race nerves, so I get in and get out. And I was fortunate to work and sign copies of my book at one expo, I loved the experience. I wasn't running the event, so I could enjoy and relax.
Going to check out your blog now.

Vaudiophile said...

I'll be interested to read that one, because without music I seem to think I get more inside myself and pay more attention to my breathing and how my body feels. Even with the spectators and the other runners shaking me out of that here and there (but in a good way), sometimes during the long runs I'll wonder "What happened to miles _ through _?" because I'm so locked in.

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