Sunday, July 26, 2009

My name is Cindy. And I have a drinking problem.

(everyone: "Hi Cindy ...")

It's not the drinking problem you think (nor expect, given the author). No, this is straight out of the Fuel Belt Chronicles. You see, just because you don the equipment doesn't mean you necessarily know how to use it.

Useful piece of advice #392 from my TNT training came just before my first race. Head Coach Ramon was giving us tips on how to stop at a water station during a race. Don't judge: it's harder than it sounds, especially for those of us who have a tough time walking and chewing gum. His instructions: slowly work your way over to the table, knowing that some people even stop to grab their water, which may cause a back-up. Grab two cups, one for each hand. Pinch the mouth of one cup with two fingers, creating a neat spout that will allow the water to smoothly trickle into your upturned mouth. Do the same with the second cup or just dump it over the back of your neck to cool off.

Sounds easy enough.

So on my first race, I used the first water station at mile 2 as a reconnaissance mission. As I passed, I eyeballed how many people were there and where they were positioned (more piled up in the middle than at the front or back ends of the table), if anyone was stopped (yes! even chatting with the volunteers! did you suddenly forget what you were doing there?) and ... as my slight OCD kicked in, what people were doing with their used cups (would I really be able to callously toss garbage onto a public path? I mean, when I run out of doggie poop bags when walking George, I'll scout for anything in my pockets to use (one time, a fully-charged Metrocard) just to avoid the "poop and run.")

I felt ready. The water station at Mile 3 was up ahead. I was all the way on the right side of the path and the table was on the left, so I downshifted and did a slight trot to the end of the table. Oh yeah, I was already money. Looking like a total pro. Grabbed two cups and kept going, clutching one in each hand.

I ran that way for what seemed like 5 minutes, trying to psyche myself up to the whole "pinch, pour, toss" thing. As I inched closer to where most runners had already thrown their cups onto the side of the path and were resuming the race, I knew I had to just, well, suck it up.

I pinched. Success! A nice little spout. I opened my mouth, tipped the cup down ... and proceeded to miss my face completely, dumping most of it down my chest, over my right shoulder and getting about three droplets into my throat. I remember blinking wildly and sticking my tongue out like a complete spaz as it dumped over my back.

I looked at the lonely cup now in my left hand, glorious and seemingly unreachable water sloshing around in it. Taunting me. Challenging me. Tempting me. "Cindy ... you're parched. Cindy ... you're dehydrated."

Screw it. I dumped it on the back of my neck, crushed the cup with my fist, threw it on the ground and moved on.

Second race I ran? Just avoided the water stations all together. So as I packed up for my 12-mile run yesterday, I knew I had to start getting used to the Fuel Belt. (See: What wine would you pair with Gu?) I filled two bottles with water and two with Gatorade. Thought I was a smarty pants by freezing two of them (Note to self: yes, they were the perfect temperature when I used them toward the end of my run but at the beginning of it? Two heavy blocks of ice propped above my ass.) But I strapped it on and felt ready to go. Check out how good we all look with our Fuel Belts:

Our run went really well, especially given the heat and a little slower pace. Elkin came prepared with two types of Gu, which he loved and said he might even start making meals out of (quote: "It's like a circus in my mouth!"). Joanne had her belt on as well and said it was much better than having to stop at a water fountain. I even munched a few Sport Beans that I stashed into my belt with my single Kleenex (See: You may think it's funny but it's snot). Perhaps now we all started looking like marathoners. At one point, I ripped off the top of one of my plastic bottles and dumped what was left in it over the back of my neck, to which Elkin responded: "Damn! You look like such a pro now!"

Of course, what no one saw was I did this after not being able to get the remaining water into my mouth.

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