Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Running Story (Pt II)

Welcome back!

We will now continue with my saga of (not really) epic proportions, concerning all things related to running and my life. (For Part I, click here.) When we left off in Part I, I had just dropped out of Air Force ROTC at the very beginning of 2010. Now, for the next over-a-year, I did NOTHING sports-related. Nothing athletic, nothing nothing nothing at all. Well, actually, there was one moment in early December of 2010, when I received one of UNL's "N-nounce" email updates. (In related news, I will never lose my affinity for clever marketing/naming ploys.) This one in particular was notifying students of the Rec Center's spring semester Marathon/Half-Marathon Training Class. There was a (literal) split-second where my brain had enough time to think "Hey, maybe I cou--" before reality leapt shrieking into the void, laughing hysterically at my folly.

It wasn't until March of 2011 that I had a certain amount of lucidity. This eye-opening moment, when I finally realized running might be something I could possible enjoy, came about as a result of a queer ("queer" as in "weird," not "gay." Although mostly gay too. See: K. Delker, A. Barrier) activity called "hashing."

This was the "Stillwater Hash House
Harriers Halloween Homecoming Hash,"
or the "SHHHHHH"

Pictured: A. Barrier; gay.
Hashing, for those of you unacquainted with the sport, is most easily described as "drinkers with a running problem." (This is also the unofficial slogan for pretty much any hashing club in existence.) A hash constitutes of four major ingredients: the lead runner, or "hare"; the group who follows him, known as the "hounds"; flour; and booze. How do these all come together? Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. (Get it?! Get it?!?!)

More gay; a cute bumblebee (who now happens to be his wife,
I guess).

The hare plans out a trail--usually cross-country, and usually absolutely terrible (especially if my dad is the hare). This may very well include poison ivy, barbed wire, thorns, nettles, and pretty much anything else that could hurt you. The hare takes off ahead of the hounds, carrying a bag of flour. He then uses the flour to leave a trail of poofs of flour on the ground, known as "hashes" (Ah! The lightbulbs are starting to flicker on, I see!), which the hounds then follow. The objective is to catch the hare before the run is over. If this happens, the hare gets his leftover flour dumped all over him and is ridiculed for years to come.

The "chalk talk," where the various markings are explained.
The "unfortunate looking woman" in red is my dad.
This is a symbol meaning "true trail," which is
one of the few things on a hash which you can
actually trust.
 At various intervals throughout the run, the hounds may encounter refreshments: Schnapps Stops, or Tequila Stops, or [any type of alcohol] Stops, or "Beer Nears" (meaning, of course, that beer is nearby). The hounds must then partake of the beverages before continuing in their pursuit of the hare. The hare may try to lure the hounds off the trail by leaving false trails, or intersections that might not lead anywhere, or by hiding hashes behind posts or dirt piles or driveway curb-cuts (so as to be invisible when approached from one direction). The end result is something akin to a drunken treasure hunt in Sauconies, followed by many lewd and bawdy songs, and more drinking. And usually a firepit, and hot dogs and chili and other cook-out food, provided by the lovely wench of the manor (my mom). I say "wench" in the kindest of possible ways, Mom!

I'm not sure about the sanity of letting lots of drunken Air Force
officers (and idiot pilots) around fire, but hey, it's nice and warm.
You also get flour dumped on you when you get named, which
happens after you've run five hashes. The names are also usually
rude, lewd, and crude. Some goodies: Boy Scouter, Cornholio.
Back to the story: around St Patrick's Day of 2011, I took part in my very first hash. Over the years, I'd attended many of the "on after"s (the afterparty), since they took place in my family's backyard, literally directly outside of my bedroom window--but as hashing is a sport where drinking (while not required) is definitely encouraged, I'd opted to wait until I was at least no longer 14 and eating queso with college seniors, most of whom did not treat me any differently despite the age gap (so many repressed memories. See again: K. Delker. He is a life-ruiner). Anyway, I ran that hash in March of 2011, and my thought process went something like this: "Man, running sucks. Boy, am I out of breath. Ewww, Guinness Stop. [gulp] Yay booze! Running is maybe not so bad! I'm chatting with some friends! I'm following a treasure trail! GodDAMN it's cold. GREEN BEER? NO WAI! [more gulps] Yay booze! Black Velvet Stop? What's Black Velvet? [answer: champagne mixed with Guinness] Ooh, I LOVE champagne! [further gulps] Yay running and booze! Mostly booze! Booze with running!" [trip, fall]

After the on-after. It was COLD! I'm front center; Mom is behind
me on my right; Dad is the orange hat in the background that's
started drinking again. 
All of a sudden, running maybe wasn't the worst thing in the world. One month later, I participated in a fun-run 5K put together by the Honey Badger Racing Team (a group of friends of mine, who mostly happen to be siblings and cousins of one another):

I'm second from the left; I'd ventured into the realm of
something-other-than-blonde hair for a few months.
My good friend Duff and I, doing a slow-
motion dramatic run-up to the finish line.
But then I didn't do anything else, again, until the subsequent autumn. I honestly cannot tell you what finally changed my mind, but I all of a sudden actually started going to the Rec. I'd paid my student fees for it for two years already and taken NO advantage of that investment. (Plus I found out that all of the treadmills had TVs attached, soooo...that helped.) When I started, I wasn't even able to run a mile without stopping to walk. Remember, I couldn't run! I would never run! Running was way beyond my physical capabilities!

This time, I was actually at the Rec when the first posters went up advertising the Marathon/Half-Marathon Training Class, and I was signed up before the N-nounce even went out to the student general population. (This was actually one of the first times I realized how much of an "adult," relatively speaking, I'd become: my parents offered to pay the $100 class fee, as well as buy me a new pair of running shoes, for my Christmas present that year--and I was overjoyed. When you finally start getting excited about receiving clothes and shoes and stuff for Christmas...congratulations, you're all grown up.)

That $100 was the best present I've ever gotten. The once-a-week class covered a wide array of topics, from what to eat, to how to stretch, to the physiology and psychology of running. The $100 included not only the class, but also a "run analysis" with a member of the Physical Therapy department, where they film you running and give you tips on how to better your form (usually $100 itself, I believe); access to the Rec's PT staff; a training plan special-tailored for you and your abilities (or lack thereof); a thrice-weekly Yoga for Athletes class; and featured speakers to talk about nutrition, massage, and lots of other things. Probably the biggest way I benefited from the class was just that: it was a class. I had to go once a week. It wasn't for credit, but the over-achiever in me knew better: it helped me stay focused, even when the Lincoln National Guard Half-Marathon was months and months away.

I gradually increased my mileage, stamina, and speed over the spring semester of 2012. At the end of March, I ran my longest distance yet: the 10-mile State Farm Run. I finished with a time of 2:02:50, which was just over my hoped-for goal of 12:00 min/miles, and promptly collapsed on the grass just to the east of the finish line. When I finally got up the strength to make it inside for some orange slices and a cup of water, the lady in front of me in line turned around and said, "I saw you finish, and thought 'Boy, it looks like she really pushed herself!' Nice job!" That made it all worthwhile. (But sheesh, don't get me started on the lack of water stops on that run, or the fact that it was just 5 miles out, 5 miles back, or the fact that it didn't start til 9, so I didn't finish until past 11, and even though it was still March, it was quite warm by then. But yeah, worthwhile.)


Okay, I hate to prolong this to another post (kidding about the "hate this" part! This way, I still have something to write about!), but I'm going to prolong this to another post. Run, Tory, Run: the Spellbinding Conclusion will be appearing soon on a computer screen near you.

Bis dann! (That's pronounced exactly the way it sounds, although just to clarify, the 'a' in "dann" is a long 'a'. "Dann" sounds like "dahn," and the phrase "bis dann" simply means "until then"!)

1 comment:

  1. Damn straight that is the gay-seeming man's wife! Love me some hashes with Clowers :)