Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ultimate Trouble - Story #2

Cow Town Marathon
            Every year, I participated in the Fort Worth Cow Town marathon 10K with a group from Bell Helicopter. I have always just been a recreational runner, so I had never tried the 26 mile marathon, but I liked to test my stamina every year in the 6.2 mile 10K race. This year my wife Mary decided to join me to see what the race was all about. Mary wasn’t a runner, and although a good athlete, she had never found pleasure in pounding out stress on the open road. We lived in Arlington, Texas, and made the short drive to the Fort Worth Stockyards for the beginning of the race. 
“Now let’s decide where we’re going to meet after the race,” I said to Mary as we got out of our car and entered the throng of runners with their numbers pinned to their backs, all heading from the parking lot to the starting line.
She followed nervously behind me as we came to the line of refreshment stands and buildings set up to promote health products and provide free samples to therunners.
“Do you see that big Lemon Chill sign?” I asked.
She nodded.
“Well, it will take me about 48 minutes to do the 6.2 mile 10K and it should take you a little over an hour, so I’ll be waiting for you there, okay?”
She nodded again.
We pushed our way through the crowd toward the starting line.
“How come this line is so long?” she asked. “It will take 10 minutes just to cross the actual place where the race begins.”
“Relax, you’re not worried about time, so just go with the flow. I’m going to weasel my way closer, because I’m competing. I don’t want to lose any time that I don’t have to.”
“I thought we would run together,” she pouted.
I looked down at her running shoes and saw her stylish white Keds.
“You don’t even have running shoes on! You should just walk at a brisk pace and enjoy the view and the people. I’ll see you in an hour.”
The starter’s gun fired and the 12,000 runners were off. Most were simply running in place, waiting for the glob of people in front of them to move. It was like a traffic jam that suddenly clears but takes several minutes for traffic to start moving. Once past the starting line the mass slowly thinned out to their respective paces. My pace was one of the more popular ones at about 7:45 minutes per mile. The thousands of feet thundered like a cattle stampede causing the asphalt to quake. There were all sorts of people around me: women, kids, old men, amputees, parents pushing children in special strollers, fat people and skinny people. We were all plodding ahead trying to pace ourselves, so that we wouldn’t have to stop and be among the shamed walking along the road. At the first mile, a timer called out the times: “7:35, 7:40, 7:45”, I was right on pace. The first test was when I crossed White Settlement Road and entered a long uphill climb at the 11Ž2 mile mark that squeezed my lungs and made my quads burn. I passed the second mile timer at 16:00 minutes. I was slowing down. There were volunteers everywhere handing out cups of water and electrolytes. I grabbed a cup of water and threw it on my face. The third mile was a beautiful path along the Trinity River. The timer screamed 25:15, I was beginning to fade. During the fourth mile I was passed by a 300 lb. man with a bright orange t-shirt with the word COACH written on the back. “How can he be faster than me?” I thought. I caught him and passed him; 32:30 the four miler timer called out. I was getting faster.
The fifth mile was a real drag and I thought I was going to have to stop until COACH plodded past me and I got my second wind, 41:45. We were now in the final mile, and COACH had decided to turn the event into a two man race. We were stride for stride as we headed down Harley Ave. There was a mariachi band playing, and the streets were lined with screaming and encouraging fans. I could see the finish line. The COACH and I were in a dead sprint. He was quite fast for a big man. I leaned at the wire, he leaned at the wire and he beat me by a belly. I finished at 49:42, COACH finished at 49:40, thankfully no one would ever know but me and him.
Winded and leg weary, I cooled down by continuing to walk toward the refreshment stands. I grabbed a banana and a cup of yogurt and limped to the Lemon Chill stand. There was a tap on my back. I turned and to my surprise saw my wife Mary standing there eating a power bar.
“How did you get here?” I asked puzzled and confused.
“The same way you did,” she answered.
But when?”
“About a couple of minutes ago, I finished in 47:32. Is that good?”
“No way, I didn’t even see you pass me.”
“It was on the bridge, but there were so many people between us I couldn’t get your attention. I ran with the nicest old lady. She was 74 and stayed with me the whole way.”
“You’re kidding me,” I said.
“Would I look this nasty if I hadn’t just run 6 miles?”
“But you’ve never run before, and those shoes?”
think I like running and I know I could go faster if you bought me a pair of nice running shoes like the ones you’re wearing.”
I hung my head in shame. I was thoroughly beaten: my wife in her white Keds, a 74 year old woman and a nameless man, known only as COACH. Fortunately, that was the end of Mary’s running career. Her body reminded her the next day that in order to run 6.2 miles, your legs need to be conditioned. She walked around like an old lady the next 2 weeks and vowed never to run another Cow Town 10K. I’m kind of glad, because each household is only big enough for one star athlete. 

Like what you read? The newest Trouble book, “How I Found Ultimate Trouble and Ultimate Trouble Found Me,” is scheduled to be published on July 31, 2012! But I will be adding another story soon, so be sure to check back! If you would like to purchase one of my other "Trouble" books, please check out my website: