Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Cowbell

I robbed you of a quality post (ha) and myself the outlet for communicating my crap by posting that BS blog this morning.  I caught a little bit of shit from a few people about my short post.  I sensed redemption would be in my future.  So here it goes.

I could tell the story of my week-long adventure in August rollin' solo with the kiddies while Mr. Roberts went to San Fran for a conference.  But I don't want to bore you with almost going postal in a local taco joint, or the lack of time in the evening to get a good buzz on.  No, that's not necessary.

'Orchata on the Rocks: Drink of Choice


I could give you a little insight into the book I started writing (slowly) that will, at some point, be a major best seller and give me the financial backing to quit my job, log 100+ mile weeks on the trails, and support me in a part time yoga teaching gig.  Nope, there's no need to share that information.

It was a dark and stormy night...

I could dedicate an entire post to my record breaking birthday celebration.  My regular birthday negativity was turned upside down with the presentation of love and balloons prior to a 7 mile run with the Rainbow Runners, followed by a delightful day and a lovely evening with my family.  But, I will refrain from sharing in my joyous day of birth.

Decorated Runner at 4:45 am on 9/3/14
My time would be best spent talking about the shenanigans of the Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon for Via Relay.

As always, the relay weekend was packed with activities: old neighborhood get together Friday night (late night) and an OBX family get together in Harrisburg on Saturday (lots of eating and swimming; also a late night).  Before hitting the road for Harrisburg, I needed to swing by Tractor Supply to pick up a cowbell.  In years past, a fellow teammate brought his cowbell; I fired him from the team after last year's shenanigans, so I also lost the cowbell.  This obnoxiously loud noisemaker was a necessity for success in the relay.  I counted on the cowbell to keep me going through the relay exchanges.  This year would be no different.  My drive to pick one up resulted in a love bird's quarrel early Saturday morning.  Ants in my pants pushed me to sacrifice familial harmony for this stupid piece of metal.  I had to have more cowbell.  For $7.99 I walked out of the store with the biggest cowbell they sold, oh and I also got a bag of bird food.  I couldn't wait to use it (the cowbell, that is).

I got up before my alarm Sunday morning at 4:48 am.  Most of my items were already packed and ready-to-go, but I still needed to tidy up the Commander, prep the cooler and get gas.  With Powerade, water and snacks in hand, I waited in an unusually long line at WaWa.  I noticed a runner, all dressed and ready to go, trip over her own shoes making her way to the rest room.  I chuckled to myself...ahhh, the nervous runner belly; it can be deadly.  I checked out and carried everything to the car as the runner approached hers.  Finding this as an opportunity to ring that bell, I rolled down my window and hung my torso out the door while ringing the bell furiously.  The sheer sound of the bell tore through the silence of the morning startling all within ear shot.  The resulting surprise shocked my soul into a state of bliss.  Yea, babe.  This was going to be an awesome day.  In order to avoid the runner traffic, I took the back roads to my team's meeting location.  The speed limit is 25 mph and the opposing lane was at a standstill.  I rung that bell as if I was calling the ranchers to chow time.

I took the right yield into the parking lot like a boss all the while ringing the bell.  I.Just.Did.Not.Stop.  Glorious.

Within moments, the rest of my team arrived and I oriented them to all the amenities in the Commander: cooler stocked with drinks, snacks, electrolyte tabs, body glide, ibuprofen (only taken post run) and race packets.  I pulled out a blue plastic folder that contained the printed athlete packet and directions to all the exchanges.  I would be running the first two legs back-to-back, so someone needed to take responsibility for driving and navigating.  I handed over my keys and the precious cowbell just before jogging across the street to the starting line.

I bumped into a few good people before we began.  I loved seeing so many familiar faces.  I must have hopped in an out of position at the start.  I would be treating the relay as a training run, not a race.  I needed to log at least 15 miles, so making good time wasn't in the cards.  I had to run smart or I would bonk; I would be running the last leg to wrap up the day — energy conservation would be detrimental to my success.  Just like that we were off.  I started the timer on my new Garmin (yay birthday) as my feet crossed the mat.  I passed my team, off to the left, who were yelling through the sweet rings of the cowbell.  Ahhh.  I loved it!

In my opinion, I loved running the first leg.  From what I heard (and knew of the route), that first stretch is a fast one.  About 1 mile into the leg, there's an extreme downhill that acts like a launch pad for the flat strip of road leading to the Lehigh Parkway.  I couldn't focus well enough to take my mind off of needing to stop and pee, but I fought the urge.  I wondered if my team would even show up to the first exchange.  After all, I'd be running through, not handing off to anyone.  Maybe they'd just go to the second exchange.  I became obsessed with the possibility of them being there to cheer me on up that hill.  I was all too with the second leg, that I knew a little cheering would help keep me moving.  I pounded the pavement with authority while rounding the corner of Martin Luther King on the approach to the 1st exchange.  Following directions, I stayed to the left in the chute designated for the relay runners.  And just then I heard my team's yells and the supporting sound of the cowbell.  Yes.  As fast as I came upon the exchange, it was in the distance.  The crowd's energy faded with each footfall and once again, we runners were alone.  I maintained a decent pace through the second leg while hold a two mile conversation with a marathoner from Jersey (I think he said he was 58).  I'd like to call him Mike, but I don't even think we properly introduced ourselves.  He was impressed with his ability to keep pace with me, even commenting on the fact that if he stayed with me, we'd come in around 3:30.  I kindly informed him that I was not running the marathon.  Poor Mike.  Not long after that statement, Mike said, 'now is where you need to bury me.'  I wished him a great race and kicked it into high gear.

Based on my Garmin's calculations, the end of the second leg was close.  We were re-directed off the trail to pavement where I made the exchange with the two runners on deck for my team.  I clearly overshot the exchange point, immediately walking to the hydration tables to grab three cups of water and one cup of Gatorade.  I'm not sure how much liquid I actually consumed, as my arms got soaked by my inability to hold the cup steady.  Two of my teammates walked over to help me steady the cups while we crossed the exchange path to a secure viewing area.  I noticed on my approach that I didn't hear any cowbell, nor did I see it in anyone's hands.  C'mon people.  I made such a stink about the importance of the cowbell.  What's the deal?  I tabled my questions until we made it back to the Commander.

Both 'mates (one driver, one navigator) began to collaborate on the strategy to get to the next exchange.  Interestingly enough, the detailed directions didn't offer enough direction to make our way there.  After a few legally questionable U-turns, we were back on track.  I then decided to ask my question: 'Where is the cowbell?'  No response from the front seat.  The uncomfortable silence led me to believe that my question was purposely going unanswered.  I asked again: 'where is the cowbell?'  After a few nervous chuckles, one person responded: 'well, we know the general area of where it is.'  Huh?  So somewhere, during the first exchange, the cowbell was placed in the grass by our parked car, only to be forgotten.  Excuse me?  I had no choice but to laugh at the situation, but I was disappointed that losing a 'stupid piece of metal' had an affect on me.  I gotta have more cowbell, but I moved on.  I missed being able to obnoxiously toll that bell at the next exchange.  The navigator was prepped to take off with only my voice to send her off.  Hrumph.  The women coming off their leg were ready to drive to the final exchange, one that three of us would be running.  I would have like to cradle the bell's handle in my hand, only to flail it in the air as runners passed our location.  In no time, the navigator came in and the three of us were off for the final leg.   Before I realized the passage of time and miles, we were all finishers, sitting in the sun drenched grass drinking water.

The unofficial sitter of the cowbell vowed that he'd find it and return it to me.

A few hours later I received this picture via text:



Clearly, my stupid piece of metal looked as if it was destroyed by a monster truck and mauled by a tiger.  A follow-up text noted that it would be fixed as good as new.  Ha.  Yea, right.




Not too shabby.  I'll have to take it for a spin soon.