So stupid was this mistake that it does not deserve the benefit of a correctly spelled adjective to qualify it. STOOOOPID. VERY STOOOOPID. But let me back up. Race morning dawned bright and beautiful. No wait, that's right, race morning bit the BIG one. I would describe it as windy but that would put in mind white caps on the Saint Lawrence River, umbrellas being blown inside out, babies being blown down the road in their strollers... this was Something Else Entirely. This was runners being blown off the course, not being able to run in a straight line.... the kind of wind that is ferocious that it is difficult to breathe because either the air is whipping by as a cross wind and it is difficult to sample air that is passing one's cake hole at 10,000 kph (yes, the wind was blowing at 10,000 kph, no post-race rationalization-induced exaggeration, I swear) or else when it was blowing straight in my face, I was afraid to open my mouth for fear of getting more than I could process into my cake hole. Yup, it was the kind of wind where you turn your head deliberately to the side and try to sip the air. It was the kind of wind that makes a runner hit their calf with their opposite heel on every step. Ok, it was windy, you get it.
So there I am at 10 km, feeling not too bad thank you very much for asking, a little off my target pace of 4:06/km, splitting the 10 km at 41:25 instead of 41:00 but really, whatever. At this point the course leaves the formula 1 race track (yes, as in the fast car Grand Prix racing thingy - cool eh?) and comes to the Olympic basin which is a long and skinny rectangle of water for rowing-type activities. When I say long, its sides are over 2 km long. In fact I once ran a 5 km race whose entire course was essentially to run around the basin. Somewhere in the back of my reptilian brain, I registered that the runners leading the race were directly across the basin from me, heading back in the other direction. I also definitely registered the VERY strong tailwind that had just pushed me to an effortless 3:52 km. And when I say effortless, I mean that wind basically picked me up at 10 km and tossed me to 11 km without my feet ever touching the ground. There was a little pack of runners about 20 m ahead of me, otherwise I am all alone. La la la la. We come to the end of the basin and turn the corner to run the short side of the basin, la la la la la la. Suddenly it all clicks in my little reptilian brain. Windy muchy, me aloney, much work. So I sprint desperately to catch the little pack but by this time we have turned face into the wind and I am so cannot catch them. Get even more exhausted trying. Now must run 2 km into headwind after fruitless 100 m sprint. Talk about one of THE CLASSIC blunders: "Never start a land war in Asia", "Never get involved with a Sicilian when death is on the line" but only slightly less known is "When it's windy put face in ass of runner in front of you and hold on like a dog with a bone".
So those 2 km totally broke me. Then these 6 tall & wide runners appeared, as if out of nowhere and said "hey, you looked pooped. Hows about we run 3 feet in front of you in a perfect line? Then, when we're done here maybe we can go to your place and do 5 loads of laundry, buy some groceries and cook some meals for the week." Fantasies are fun. I adjusted the effort and the pace obliging scaled linearly to 4:25 per km. I tried to be patient and calm but with about 500 m to go (500 m on this particular stretch that is, there were still another 7 kms of windy goodness to come afterwards), there was a huge gust of wind. The kind that feels like it is coming after me personally. Then I got frustrated and even angry. I think I actually said out loud: "This is f**cking ridiculous". I may have even shook my fist. And it hit me, as things do when travelling 14 kph on foot, that I was actually getting angry at the wind. I was angry... at the WIND. What a fabulous metaphor. There are so many things in all of our lives that cause us frustration. The way to stay sane and happy is to sort them into those which we can and cannot control. Though it is, admittedly, a bit of a trick to sort things into what is and is not in our sphere of influence - that's what I pay my therapist good money for. Getting angry at things truly out of our control is like getting mad at the wind. A useless, energy draining waste of time. It sounds so obvious now but I rode the crap out of the metaphor until I got to the 15 km marker and some shelter.
Even buoyed by this newfound, albeit totally hackneyed and obvious, bit of wisdom, I was pretty pooped for the last 6 km. In fact I was all kinds of tired. Seriously, I discovered a new way of being tired. It wasn't heaving out of breath tired or muscular fatigure... more of a tingly, I'm on drugs and no longer really inside my body tired. Actually it was not unpleasant. But it was really hard to care whether I ran 1:27 or 1:30 at this point. Hard... to.... care.
At 20 km, I passed the guy from last week who told me about using this race as a qualifier for NYC in the first place. I screamed at him: "Go! Go! Go! Think New York! New York! New York!" before realizing that he, being a he, would have to run the BOY time of 1:24 and it said 1:23:30 on my watch and we will had 1.1 km to go. Then I felt like an ass. So I ran faster. Then my feelings of asshole-ish-ness were drowned out by the unexpected and mostly unwelcome refrain of "Dinosaur Train!", "Dinosaur Train!". And then the race ended in 1 hour 28 minutes and 11 seconds.