Today, I participated in the Beaver Stadium Run sponsored by the Paterno family, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. I was able to raise $1,450 to benefit Special Olympians. Last year they raised over $400,000 but I do not know the total for this year. As a result of my fundraising efforts, I was invited to a reception with Sue Paterno, Jay Paterno, Franco Harris, and Pat Chambers, who is Penn State’s basketball coach. I know! I didn’t even know we had a basketball team! James Franklin wasn’t at the reception but he and his family were there for the race.
I’m in there somewhere! Maybe. It’s last year’s photo. I was there.
Anyway, after the Blue-White Game, a free football scrimmage that marks the end of Spring practice, and the private reception they had accommodations at a hotel in State College for runners that wanted to stay overnight before the race. I only live about 40-45 minutes away depending on how many cops are alongside the road, but the reception ran till 8:30, and the race was the following morning at 11:00. I could save gas by not driving back and forth. It seemed like a win-win situation for me and the environment to stay in the hotel.
Until one o’clock in the morning.
That’s when the smoke alarm in my room started to chirp every minute or so. After listening to this for a few minutes, and quietly hoping it would just STOP, I got up and removed the battery. Hey! It’s not like I’m in an airplane bathroom here. And it’s not because I wanted to smoke. I just wanted to sleep! I have a race to run the next day!
Finally, I called the front desk. They came relatively quickly, although my room is physically as far away from the front desk as you can get. They gave me a map to help me find where to park. I had to stop and ask directions. I was afraid I might need a passport, but fortunately, I did not cross any foreign borders on the way to my room.
They replaced the battery and . . . . silence. They apologized profusely, and excused themselves. I turned out the lights and tried to return to my racing dreams of crossing the finish line first to be congratulated by the entire Penn State cheerleading team . . . but I digress.
Within two minutes, the chirping resumes. WTF?!
I again call to the front desk, but there is no answer. I guess the two who made the Lewis and Clark journey to my room haven’t returned yet with Sacajawea. So I listened to the bird chirping and wondered if it was a finch or a blue jay? After finally contacting the front desk duo again, I waited for their arrival and let them in.
They played with the battery some more. He thinks perhaps he put it in wrong. (That’s what she said.) She just seemed distressed or perhaps she knew the entire hotel was at risk because there was no one at the front desk right now. She suggested cutting the electric wires to the unit–which makes you wonder why it needs any battery after all except as a backup for power outages and this seems like something that could wait until say, 10:00 the next day. He asked her if she wanted to electrocute him. She does not answer (but smiles.) I was sensing some tension between these two. Or I might just be TIRED! He pushed a button to test the unit. Long, loud chirp. Okay, I am fully awake now!
Finally, the chirping stops and the two apologetically removed themselves from my room again.
Sleep at last!
I have set my phone alarm to go off at 8am. I’m only 10 minutes from the race location, but I’m pretty sure I am gong to need to eat something, but I can’t run right after I eat something, so I figure three hours is a good compromise.
Unfortunately, the previous occupant of this fine hotel (“we’ve had no fire in 117,497 days!”) room set the alarm for 6 am. And it dutifully awoke me at 6 am.
I should have just gone back home!
Humor aside, I don’t think it affected my performance. Maybe the two beers I drank at the reception did. Or the two creme filled donuts I had on Friday. Or the double quarter-pounder with cheese and fries before the Blue White Game.
Whatever, I did not win. There were no cheerleaders. It was only a dream.
But I did place 64th out of 1900 runners, and fifth in my age group (old farts.) I beat my time from last year (22:43:82) with a new personal record of 20:59:01!
But I have to admit I was humbled a bit. As we lined up before the race, they attempted to group people by how fast they run. I moved to a point just ahead of the sign that read 7:00 to 8:00 pace (my official pace was 7:00!) NAILED IT! I stood near a young woman (and quite frankly, they all look young to me anymore except for my cataract patients.) I find it helpful to have something to focus on while running. She was wearing very short, very skin tight gray shorts, and a tank top. She was very focused. She would be the rabbit to my greyhound.
However, as the race started, she was more like a turbo charged super ninja rabbit on steroids, and was out of my sight before we reached the one mile mark. I never saw her again. I ate her dust.
Worse yet, the person in my age group that beat me out for third place and a possible medal (by 12 SECONDS) blew by me about 3/4 of a mile before the stadium. I know this because my first thought when he went by me was, “that guy is old.” He was. Gray hair (not tight gray shorts) and everything. He had on a gray T-shirt with words on the back. “Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.”
This is what losers see.
The shirt distracted me. Not the same way the gray pants did. I had to think about this–it had words and humor and everything. The shorts only had a Nike Swoosh. (And that’s what they did. Swoosh!) Meanwhile, he’s sprinting ahead of me like I’m standing still. I’m doing 8.57 miles per hour in a 7 mile per hour zone! He only beat me by twelve seconds, but I never recovered from that shirt.
It had to be that shirt!
Although it might have been the smoke alarm keeping me up all night.
Or the donuts and beer.
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