Upcoming events –

Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cheboksary... Thank You!

Four hours, five minutes and ten seconds. That's how long it took me today to walk from Cheboksary, Russia to Beijing, China. I MADE IT! I'm going to Beijing! Whoa-whooo!


Yes, 40th place and I was whooping it up at the finish as if I'd won the thing. No shame in making a fool of yourself when you make the U.S. Olympic Team.

I spent the first half of the race just talking to myself, convincing myself that I was feeling good and moving well. I spent the second half trying not to pinch myself: "Is this really happening? Am I really on pace and feeling great at 35km?" Of course, I had imagined this race a hundred times in my head and it was going exactly as I had imagined it... well, with a few exceptions at the personal aid station, but more on that later. It's just such a cool feeling to feel so good at the end of a 50km. The best races are like that. It's as though the faster you walk, the easier it feels, and not just because you are done a few minutes sooner! The other thing that happens is you have very selective memories from great races, almost as though you cross the finish line and come out of a coma – major amnesia.

But I do remember going through the aid station fairly early in the race and there being a mix-up with Dave McGovern and Steve Vaitones who were working the station for Team USA. I thought they had it corrected on the next lap, but no, we miscommunicated again. And then when it happened a third time... I lapsed into an extremely rare episode of Tourettes and told McGovern exactly what I thought of his anatomy, its relative size, and where he could place it. Or I imagine that's what I said. More amnesia. McGovern was kind enough to tell me after the race that he was the second happiest person in Russia that I had made the Olympic Team because if his screw-up had cost me the Team he would never forgive himself. I made the Team, so it's all water under the bridge. In fact, he can curse at me anytime he wants – free pass.

Two days ago, I got to Cheboksary and felt kinda yucky. Sore throat (probably had something to do with all the smokers in the Moscow hotel and airport) and some extra movement "downstairs," if you know what I mean (something I ate was not agreeing with me). And if you had asked how things were going to go in the race... well, I would have lied and said "Great, just great!" I think I owe my wife and brother an apology for unloading all my emotional baggage on them yesterday. Sorry! It's all better now. We can go to Beijing, it's all good.

Anyway, back to Cheboksary. The people here are awesome. They cheered for everyone in the race and if you happened to smile while they cheered for you, the volume doubled. Sometimes it was just a simple "U... S... A..." chant and other times it was more elaborate, depending on the level of English: "Let's go, you can do it!" or "Good good good!" And there were 60,000 people yesterday and today screaming "Russia! Russia!" at their incredibly speedy athletes. And on the way back to the hotel shuttle buses, we were all mobbed by locals asking for photos and autographs and a chance to practice their English. It's times like this when I don't understand why we all don't get along better in this world. All the people I meet are so nice. We haven't even left for the vodka-drinking banquet yet and we're all friends. Nice place. More later. Gotta go to the banquet. Celebrate, if I can find the energy.

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