Sunday, September 20, 2009

Walk a mile in Mike's shoes.

Or as one random dude did ... run 13.1 of them.

In Mike's shoes.

This might be my best story yet. And it far eclipses the news of the day, which was my first half-marathon that I ran seemingly in another country (A very far-reaching part of Queens. I don't like to leave the island of Manhattan, let alone another borough that has far-reaching parts.) But being that I want you to read my entire blog, I am going to make you hear all about the race first before I get to Mike's Great Shoe Giveaway.

First of all ... Queens? Really? And not just Astoria or Flushing or other parts of Queens that I know can be reached by my old friend the MTA subway. No ... this is College Point. Miles and miles from the last stop on the 7 line. I looked on the map when we were all trying to figure out our transportation options and it may as well have been Buffalo. But Jenn, Barb, Mike and I dutifully boarded the New York Road Runner's bus at - choke - 4:30am Sunday to ensure we'd make it to the starting line on time. Mike was debating just taking the 7a flight out there but decided that in an unknown borough, there's safety in numbers.

It was cold. And dark. And we may have looked a tad homeless, being that we were all bundled in sweats sitting on park benches waiting for the sun to rise and for other TNTers to arrive:

Hey, Queens is kinda picturesque in the dark. Especially when there is a body of water surrounding it.

Okay, so dark and cold. Regardless, we were excited. Coming off our big 20+-miler the weekend before, I think we were all anxious to hit the road and see what the course looked like. We'd be racing this time, which meant a faster pace than we were doing on our long runs. But it was also significantly shorter than what we had been doing, so 13 miles seemed so beyond do-able. I was nervous; all the downhills from my Jersey run had wreaked havoc on my knees and I dialed back in the previous days, fearful that I would feel that twinge in my legs once again.

But as always, once I had all my best running buddies around me, I calmed down.

And I bid adieu to Mike, who had big plans for the morning. Once we headed over to check our bags, he was to plant himself back on one of the park benches until, the half-marathon gods willing, just before 9a to see my cheerful face and not-at-all-winded body come up on the finish.

Since I left the camera with Mike (1. I really couldn't fathom another run with not only an extra few ounces on my backside but a risk of a Gu-electronics conflict; 2. Duh! I need someone taking my picture!) I didn't take my requisite run photos. But I have something to say to our neighboring borough. Dear Queens: Widen. The. Streets. Nothing like you and 6,999 of your closest friends squeezing down a narrow avenue dodging sideview mirrors of cars that residents refused to move for one single Sunday morning.

The run was pretty residential the whole way. So while we had a few really great cheering sections as you ran through an intersection, mostly it was just Marge sluffing out in her bathrobe and fuzzy slippers holding a steaming cup of coffee to pick up the paper. Bed head and all. Looking at us like, "Did something happen? Why are all these people running in the same direction?"

Oh, and we totally saw chicks doing the Walk of Shame. Elkin thought they were girlfriends of runners, but I'm sorry. You don't wear black drapey rayon and 4-inch heels while carrying a glittery purse at 7:30 on Sunday morning. No, that would be just getting home.

Anyhoo, many many turns and lots of inclines equals a bit of a challenge. We all handled it really well though and Elkin, Barb and I came in in that order. Elkin about a minute before me, Barb about 30 seconds after him. I brought up the rear but was just happy to be bringing it in at all:

And there I go:

I was so excited to look up at the clock as I crossed the finish, knowing I had done my first half-marathon in less than 2 hours; 1:55:10 to be exact. Click below for my full stats. For all of you who thought I was really 27, consider me outed now.

Last Name

First Name












AG %
GALLI CINDY F38 4230 LEUK NEW YORK NY 2011 444 60 1:55:10 8:47 1:52:00 428 58.7 %

Although we still have to solve the mystery of why Babs' D-chip didn't register. Especially since she did such a great job of attaching it to her shoe:

So at the finish? We were pretty stoked. TNT made a great showing and Ramon told us later he was impressed with our times. Lots of PR's and even more smiling faces.

And this is when we had the biggest laugh of the day. So I call Mike and have him meet us back at bag check. He was hesitant at first, said he needed to wait for something. But I see him a few minutes later, shuffling over to us slowly. I look down at his feet and notice his shoes are untied and he looks a little skeeved out.

And he tells us his story.

Apparently after leaving us at bag check earlier, he was approached by a guy frantically asking everyone sitting on the benches what shoe size they wore. Now, being a New Yorker and not finding this terribly off-putting, Mike listened to his plight calmly while patting himself down to make sure the stranger hadn't somehow lifted his wallet. Turns out, the guy had registered for the race but in his dash out the door in the morning, had managed to leave both pairs of his running shoes behind. There he stood, flip-flop clad, desperate for a willing size-13 to get him out a jam.

The last person I would have ever expected to agree is my husband.

For those of you who know Mike, you can skip this next paragraph since you know why I write this. But for Mike newbies, here's a primer. My husband is the most generous man on the face on the planet and as long as he doesn't think you're scamming him, will rip the shirt off his back (or shoes off his feet) should you need it. But he's conflicted with the whole "I think you're scamming me" thing, which will cause an inner struggle for him from time to time.

That and he is easily icked out. If he's on the bus home and someone sneezes on the bus behind that bus, he will evacuate and walk the rest of the way. So needless to say, I was in a state of total disbelief that he responded to "Sam" ... "Sure. Have my shoes. See you when you finish." Note my disbelief:

Not only did "Sam" (if that's your real name), finish and immediately come back to a now flip-flop-clad Mike waiting at the end of the race ... the dude ran it in 1:39.

So next race? I will be wearing Mike's size-13s.

But it led us to have an interesting discussion over many beers at the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria. (Oh, and note to my thousands of readers who plan on being in Queens at 11a on a Sunday ... you cannot drink until noon. Sucks when you finish a race at 10a and all you want is a bloody mary. Good luck with that.)

As I officially become a "runner," I realize what an odd bunch we are. Not only will we have candid discussions with one another about bodily functions and bathroom issues, but runners like Sam (and probably many others) have no qualms asking someone to lend their shoes for a couple of hours. It's a pure sport, running. And I have no doubt that those who feel great love and passion for it will do anything to ensure they don't pass up an opportunity to hit the road before them. Heart and soul don't come easy, but running shoes are a dime a dozen.

So we drank well into the day, celebrated our great run, and being that we were at a Czech beer garden, um, had Klibasa, thank you very much.

(Oh, and below? Nice sausage, Babs! Sorry, my girl is holding a ginormous hot dog in her hand. Must acknowledge.)

Me? I really enjoyed introducing Mike to my running buddies. He had been worried he wouldn't have anything in common with them or that we might digress into some secret runner's language he wouldn't be able to speak. (Once he got past our secret handshake, we were all good).

As it happens, Mike has more in common with runners than he thinks. He appreciates the challenges they take on and has great respect for anyone who is willing to ask a random stranger to strip his shoes so he can get a quick 13 miles in. Anyone else would have checked his pockets to make sure he wasn't missing anything and then promptly said no. Mike wished the guy luck when he started, congratulated him when he finished.

(He also tried to air out his Nikes before putting them back on his feet but cut the guy some slack. That's gross-ville!)

I'd like to think I would do the same. Regardless, I'm pretty convinced I could learn something from Mike's funny experience.

And if that's the case, I have big shoes to fill.

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