Sometimes in life a person has to live a little bit. When you “live a little bit”, it usually means that you are enjoying some short term reward which comes along with some long term down side. That was certainly the case with the doughnut, but I lived a little bit and ate it. About ten minutes later, I was walking to the start of the Peachtree Road Race, a 10k foot race that is held on the fourth of July every year in Atlanta, and I realized that the doughnut had a hidden down side along with being high in empty calories.
It felt in my belly as though I’d wadded up a rock inside piece of newspaper and swallowed it down.
It was a cool morning, and the sunlight was still orange where it shone between the blue shadows of the buildings. The race announcer was talking excitedly near the starting line, but I couldn’t hear a word over the roar of news helicopters, their cameras pointing down at the runners. “Man with obstinate doughnut in belly grimaces at race start” I’m sure the caption under my face would read.
I considered punching myself in the guts just to see if I could jostle the doughnut into some sort of comfortable alignment, but decided that doing so in a crowd of runners might get me some strange looks, and might even be un-American on the 4th of July. I decided to just live with it until such time as my body turned its molecules into ass fat.
It was my third year running the Peachtree, and I had a strategy. You see, the race profile is shaped pretty much like a wide “V”. Runners start at the top of a hill in Buckhead, run down toward Peachtree Creek, which is pretty much the middle of the race, then up hill for the last three miles to Piedmont Park. The fourth mile is pretty much all up hill, and is fairly steep. My strategy was to take it easy for the first three miles, rip up the big hill as fast as I could, then attempt to hold it together for the rest of the race. I didn’t realize that i was going to have an ill-tempered doughnut sitting heavily in my guts the whole time, but I managed to get to the bottom of the hill on time after a characteristically hectic start.
I prepared myself mentally for the trip upward, then said out loud “Time to go to the Bad Place!” so that my fellow runners, all certainly steeling themselves as well, could hear. It passed utterly without effect, and seemed to hang awkwardly in the air like a hastily eaten and ill-advised doughnut might hang in someone’s guts. The good news is that I made it up the hill without anything physically terrible happening to me, but I don’t mean to understate the difficulty of trying to simultaneously run a mile uphill and come to grips with sudden nihilism.
At the top of the hill, I consulted my watch and found that I was on pace, but the messages from the leg department of my body were beginning to take some urgent tones. I was forced to ignore them, and they fought back by being slower than I was asking them to be. The doughnut bobbed along in my squishy insides, probably trying its best to talk my stomach into going to Barfcon 1.
I crossed the finish line in 48 minutes and 49 seconds, which is four minutes faster than last year and 49 seconds slower than I told everyone I finished. It means I get to start in the 1A start wave again next year, which is great for my ego. I would have to run a sub-42 minute 10k in order to get into the sub-seeded bracket, which would mean I’d have to spend a lot of time working on my running, which is something I would only consider doing in a world absent of bicycles.
I was pleased with my effort, though, and left the park in good spirits and with high hopes of sending some cold beers down into my insides to investigate the doughnut situation. This plan was not without its potential issues, but I’m proud to say that it developed nicely.
After all, sometimes you have to live a little bit.