On Saturday, February 4th, the final leg of the Polar Bear Grand Prix was held in Cherokee Park. The Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler presented a challenging conclusion to the racing series for the tens of billions of runners who traveled from the farthest reaches of the planet to participate (possible overstatement – I suck at counting). Shockingly enough, at no point did the race transform into a violent free-for-all of carnage and bloodshed, despite my best efforts.
Unlike the previous two races in the Grand Prix - the Reindeer Romp and the Frostbite 5k - my 11 year-old daughter chose not accompany me, as her training regimen had been thrown off by her volleyball schedule. On one hand, I no longer felt tethered to her pace or forced to act “parent-ly” in front of the Kentuckiana running elite, who seem to be a tad judgey toward some of my quirks (I have a tendency to curse loudly when I vomit, especially in publicly).
But on the other hand, I’d have to run alone, which considering I suffer from a general lack of focus, could have resulted in me veering off the path and getting lost in the park, forcing me to rely on pure instinct to survive, like a feral suburban man-child.
Additionally, I wouldn’t be able to project all of my failings as an athlete on to my daughter, showering her with such encouragement as “Quit being a baby and run faster!” or “If you don’t win this race, I will take everything you own, put it in a giant pile in the backyard, and light it on fire!”
But alas, I soldiered on. I am runner, hear me roar (actually it’s less of a roar and more like heavy panting).
8:30 p.m. (the night before) – Because I will be running this race solo, I decide to be more serious in my approach. Therefore, I begin an intense evening of stretching, geared at transforming my weak, baby-like muscles into lean and limber machines of running success.
3:55 a.m. – I have been stretching now for nearly 7 ½ hours. I am nothing more than pudding, cased in a bag of pasty skin. Further complicating matters, I am dangerously close to the flexibility point-of-no-return, which would result in me quitting my job, cutting off my family, and never leaving my bedroom.
7:30 a.m. – Having learned from previous races that punctuality might not be my strong suit, I decide to catch a ride with my reliable friend Katy. Race time isn’t for another ninety minutes, and I’m already out the door. Before I leave, I catch a final glimpse of my 11 year-old former running partner. She briefly opens her eyes and mutters, “Try not to have a stroke, dad.”