The Shoreline Marathon – A Return Running

“Kevin Hanna, 46, from Orlando, right?” The woman checking me in at the crack of dawn remembered me from previous events. Not a lot of us “snowbirds” from Florida making the trek to Emma Woods campground in Ventura on the semi-regular.

I remembered her as well – a lovely person who was caught in the chaos of the person in front of me a moment before, a borderline rude runner upset that she was only doing marathon bibs at the moment since we were starting before the other events. It wasn’t borderline, the guy was a jerk. And I opted not to say anything which makes me complicit I think.  Or so I was thinking as I took my bib from her.

I also was thinking how shocking it is to hear my age spoken aloud. It’s been six months and I still can’t wrap my head around the downhill stumble out of my 40s. I don’t know if that got into my head or the years and mileage have left me physically feeling the age.

It was a tough day. I used to be pretty fast and consistent at these events.  But these days I find my legs don’t want to go as far or as fast, my mental game crumbles, and the toll leaves me wobbly and creaking after the finish.  Oh, sure, I’ve had finishes before where it was a gingerly walk/slow crawl to the car/metro/hotel/home.  And yet, that rarity has become my norm.  I previously could finish a race, grab a shower, and then hit the town for a museum, a dinner, a spectacle, anything.  I might move a little slow but I could still function.

As I made my way through the first loop of the two loop course, I was doing… fine?  Okay?   It was a slower but respectably steady pace I was keeping.  And I knew the course from prior events.  I even knew the 2 mile segment running along the RVs parked for beach access, many of them long-term residents recognizable by their “F++K Biden” and “Trump 2020” flags that on previous runs and more now made me shake my head in disbelief.  If the cliched definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results and yet always coming back with the same painful result, then these far right Trump fans and me running past them share that one thing in common I suppose.

It should not have been a surprise, and indeed to expect otherwise should have meant I was subject to a 5150 72-hour psych hold, but the second loop was a painful struggle.  The closing 90 minutes proved devastating to the legs, to the mind, to the heart, and to the different spellings of soul/sole.  I felt old and decrepit.  I felt each footfall and it made me want to, as John C Waugh might have claimed Stonewall Jackson said at the end, “cross the water and rest awhile under the shade of the trees.”  I don’t think that’s the quote but you try googling a quote on the internet and it’ll be credited to twenty different people six ways to Sunday and back again.  I stole it, butchered it, paraphrased it, and that’s all there is to say on that.

In the end, I staggered like an extra in some cut-rate zombie movie (a z-movie, no?), and finished the race.  It wasn’t pretty.

But ya know what was pretty at the end?  Free tacos.  Nothing like grabbing an early dinner, to beat the rush.  Like I said, I’m an old man these days.  And thus I take what I can get.