Do you know what’s even more awesome than one giant ass cramp? That’s right! TWO giant ass cramps, a matching set to be precise. Gluteus Maximi sans blood or oxygen equals Gluteus Graniti. Imagine, if you will, the feeling of a tiny sadist hanging onto your thighs and hammering a red hot icepick directly into your lateral ass cheeks with every step. Sounds fun, right?
This is the experience I often have when running on roads, especially if it’s more than five miles. Naturally, because I know it’s going to happen, I never hesitate to sign up for a “fun” run when time permits. This weekend I happened to be staying at the swankest resort in Colorado Spring, Casa de la Parents, and heard there was a 10 mile race happening in Garden of the Gods. “Self,” I said to myself, because that’s what I call me. “You haven’t run more than a few miles a week in a month or so. This is the perfect opportunity to take in some stellar scenery and give yourself the chance to recall exactly what it feels like to have your legs feel like they’re about to be ripped from their sockets. Sweet!”
So up I rose at 5:30am to the rolling feeling of nausea that happens when one is out of bed before their body has given them permission, downed a GU (which added an interesting twist to the nausea, but I’ll spare you those details), and off my race supporters and I went. It was a perfect day. Perfect. High-40s, sun up, light breeze. Maybe 1500 runners were gathered at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs creating what satellite imagery might first mistake for an explosion at a rainbow-colored spandex factory. One thing that can be said about runners, we are a stylish bunch, and we love our synth fabs (doesn’t that sound like a Rotersand song?).
Manitou Springs is another one of Colorado’s hidden gems. It’s like a Deadwood, South Dakota but with happy people (sorry Deadwood, the series HBO made of you has forever tainted my impression). It also seems to be the place people with tattoos gather when the homogeneity of straight-laced Colorado Springs has become too oppressive. Needless to say, I’m right at home there. The race itself turned out to be somewhat of an art run due to this inked population, and instead of chasing jerseys, I spent the morning chasing blobs of blue and black to try and discern whether a particular image was a tiger, a Dead Kennedys album cover, or a rose. This type of event gives the term “chasing the dragon” a whole new meaning.
The race was actually going quite wonderfully until a long downhill on mile 8. Pushing down the hill at a 6:20 pace was apparently more than my less-than-enthusiastic glutes were going to tolerate. First the right one seized, and like any good runner, instead of slowing I began the mantra “relax, don’t do it, when you wanna clench to it” in my head, hoping it would give up and realize that it’s complaints were no match for my indomitable willpower to catch that guy who passed me on the uphill. I was indeed winning this battle, until cheek number two went on red alert. In many ways, this balanced misery is better. You can more easily attain systematic lurching when both your ass cheeks have turned into flesh bombs of agony.
|Hill of Doom|
Still, there’s only so far you can stagger before your legs threaten to spill you senselessly to the ground in protest. I veered over for a 30-second stretching session that alleviated the worst of the booty inferno and allowed me to almostsprint into the finish. At one hour and thirty-one minutes, my time wasn’t quite what I was hoping, but the whole escapade served to reinforce what I believe has become my most firmly held belief: Roads suck. Trails rule.
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