Thursday, August 08, 2013

Iowa/South Dakota Marathon Double, a belated report.

Dear Diary,

During June I got two new marathon states. We did a marathon double: Marathon to Marathon in Iowa on Saturday, and then South Dakota on Sunday. This is my belated race report for those races.

When we go to places like Iowa in June, that are green and moist and lush we are often struck with the notion of what it would be lie to live in a place like that. That lasts about a day, diminishing somewhat when I have to start propping myself up with a cocktail of antihistamines, sudoephedrine, and nasal spray. I'm incredibly allergic to many green things and some black things. I'm talking about grass and mold. These are the reasons I live in New Mexico.

In any case the Marathon to Marathon is a lovely run. It's a nice course. The weather was lovely, and given that I live and train at an altitude of 6000 feet, I felt like I was swimming in oxygen. I made record time in the fist quarter of the race. But that's when things took, literally, a turn for the worse. About mile 8 or so we turned north, and for the next 15 miles we were subjected to the smell of money that was so powerful it stayed in my nostrils until mile 23.

The "smell of money," for the uninformed, is the smell associated with a large-scale hog operation. The hogs are confined in large warehouses, and their waste flows out into "lagoons" next to the buildings. And these lagoons do not have palm trees and girls in hula skirts.

Hog shit smells a lot like people shit. So basically, a solid shit smell for 15 miles of slow running. The last three or four miles, thankfully, it began raining and rained continually. The wind blew the rain from a different direction so that I was thankfully upwind for the rest of race. I finished, in Marathon, Iowa, and went down into an old school basement to shower, and it was the Best. Shower. Ever.

We had a nice post race meal during which I was subjected to karaoke. I will tell you that you have never heard the musical embodiment of the white race until you've heard Macy Gray's "I Try" sung by a farmwife in Iowa.

We got into our rental and drove to Volin, South Dakota. This is where I lived while I was in college and the first of my many graduate schools, from 1991 to 1999. I have an old friend there, Nancy, who gave us a nice room to stay in, cooked for us, and We caught up.

An aside, which you can skip if you like:

The swan lake marathon had a special meaning for me. I lived not far away when my children were small and I was in college. There was a time in my life, pre-Baboo, when I found myself heartbroken and devastated. I had just gone through another divorce, quite unexpectedly, and my mother was dying. I was looking into checking myself into a hermitage owned by the church I attended at the time, but I needed someone to watch my kids. I asked a friend of mine, who said, "i've got a fishing shack up at Swan Lake. You can go any time you want."

So, every friday morning I would pack up the kids and a case of wine coolers and some trashy novels and head up there. No phone. No internet. No radios. no video games or TV. The kids were forbidden to take off their life jackets but could otherwise have as much fun as they wanted, within line of sight. I dragged an old aluminum chase lounge down into the water, eschewed sunblock, and read and drank wine coolers most of the day.After the kids went to bed each night, I sat out on the dock, thought about my mother, and end of yet another marriage, and grieved. I didn't eat. It was the best. diet. ever. i carefully scheduled this mini-breakdown to end when school started, and when I returned to my final semester of grad school, I was golden, thin, and at peace.

Eventually, I got better.

We all do.

But anyway.

I packed clothing for a warm run because, after all, this was the forecast: warm, sunny, dry. Turns out, not. So. Much.

The next day it was pouring. We ran through the rain in the dark to find packet pickup, and ran through the rain in the dark to the start line. I opted for the early start, and I ran through the rain, the dark, wearing a trashbag, for about an hour. On muddy dirt roads. The really fucked up part was that I had sunglasses on. So, I had a choice: run in the pre-dawn darkness without glasses and not see a thing, or run with dark, rain smeared glasses in the pre-dawn darkness and not see a thing. The rain let up, for a little while, and I ran down a well-traveled road, wondering why everyone was running on the other side until a semi loaded with hay blew by me and nearly blew me off the road. Around mile 10, and I was running down another muddy road, and it started raining again. At mile twelvish, I was miserable. I was tired, undertrained, and I had just run a marathon the day before.

I stopped at an intersection where i could run right, and finish a half marathon.


i'd be done.

Or, I coukd turn left, and do another thirteen miles. I stood there, in the rain, thinking...thinking. Then I decided: okay. I'm going to turn around and look back down the road behind me. If Sweet Baboo is right there, I will finish the marathon. If he's not, I'll take the coward's way out and we'll just have to come back to South Dakota another time.

I took a breath.

I turned around.

Mother. Fucker.

He was right there, running toward me. At first he didn't see me, because I was jacketed and hatted and standing in the rain, so I called out to him. He listened to me whine and complain about how tired I was, how wet I was, like he has patiently for the past thirteen years. Then he finished the marathon with me. As he has many times.

I just realized I forgot to fill in Nebraska. Damn.

Then we flew home.

The end.



  1. Ok, neither of those sound so wonderful, but that Swan Lake one is the kind of thing I'd think you'll look back on and remember finishing together. And what a place to come back to, in SUCH a different place in your life.

  2. If I had a Baboo who would listen to me whine and run with me, I might consider running races again.

  3. Didn't you do Flying Pig in Cincinnati? You should fill in Ohio too!

  4. Whidbey Island Marathon in WA, & Mount Desert Island Marathon in ME. Do those ones.


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