Confessions of a 10k Cheater

Well, we didn’t really cheat.

Not really.

Some of it wasn’t our fault.

My daughter Meghanne and I got up at ungodly-o’clock this morning to walk a 10k event, the “Pints to Pasta”.  This runs from SE Portland, near the Adidas corporate office, to SW Portland, ending at a restaurant called “The Old Spaghetti Factory”.  Brew and free pasta for all at the end.  Just what’s needed at 10 o’clock of a Sunday morning.  Well, if you don’t start drinking in the morning, you can’t say you’ve been drinking all day, I always say.  Whatever gets you to the finish line.

This was my third year doing this event, and Meghanne’s second.  So you would think I would know the ropes and there wouldn’t be any surprises.

Mm-hmm.  You don’t know me very well, do you…

Trouble started yesterday when I went to pick up the race packets at the above-named restaurant.  Zipped right past the exit, heading straight into downtown.  Not good–that place is nuts.  I think Sarah Winchester (of Winchester Mystery House fame–look it up, it’s fun) designed the street layout.

Fortunately I’ve done enough creative driving (read that”getting lost”) in Portland to be able to back out of any driving errors.  So I didn’t lose much time in getting what I had to get and returning home.  I had a garage sale going, and didn’t want to leave my friend and Meghanne there too long by themselves.

I have to emphasize at the get-go that neither of us are morning people.  Six a.m. does not exist for us if we can help it.  And heaven help anyone (except my husband) who is perky around us at that time.  We tolerate each other, but no one else may enter that world.  Not without losing a few fingers.

However, we kept it together long enough to actually get to the event on time.  Ish.

A rather lackluster volunteer sort of waved us into a parking lot a half-mile (!!!) from the restaurant, where we were to board a shuttle bus to take us to the start of the race.  This parking lot was new; usually everyone parked in a garage just a few minutes’ walk away.  Also what was different was that the volunteer just…left…once we’d pulled in.  Fortunately we followed her, or I may not even have found the place.

There weren’t a lot of people milling around, and I started wondering if the event had lost its following.  It didn’t occur to me that everyone had been bussed up to the Adidas complex already.  Someone pointed out that we’d better get on the bus that was just rounding the corner.

Which didn’t even stop.

This is where the joyfulness was just about completely over.  I let everyone know within earshot that, if we hadn’t been parked in the boonies, we’d have gotten to the bus staging area on time.  Fortunately (for the volunteers), another bus was coming through in a few minutes. 

We weren’t the only ones to be late in arrival.  I saw the woman we regulars have labeled “the cane lady”.  She is in her 70s, wears a knee brace, and carries a cane.  She’s in almost all of these events, and positively SMOKES the competition.  No, she does not use the cane–she carries it away from her body at about a 45-degree angle.  Not that she is threatening anyone–she has it in case she needs it. Psh–I should be so handicapped…I admire her, I really do.

I don’t know what happened to the gaggle of people she was with, but by the time the bus got there, they had disappeared, leaving Meghanne and me, plus a runner.  We were termed “stragglers”, which to me was equal to “unwashed”, “leper”, or “peasant”.  Yeah, all energized now…

As we arrived at the start, we could see a swarm of runners coming down the hill on the opposite side of the road.  It was an impressive sight; usually I see their backs, because the walkers start out after the runners.  We are not stupid–we do not want to be run over before we get a chance to kill ourselves with the exertion of the event.

So we jumped out of the bus, tagged the start line (so the timing chips in our race bibs would be activated), and started moving as fast as we could.  I was bogged down a bit; the coffee and other fluids I’d accrued that morning had taken the tour of the old plumbing, and wanted to go to the gift shop, if you get my drift.  Meg and I ran for a bit, walked for a bit, ran some more, walked, and gradually got caught up to the end of the walkers.  I was happy for that–the cop bringing up the end with his flashy-light vehicle was getting on my nerves.

About the two-mile mark, we finally saw…A BRIGHT LIGHT!  No, not really, but it was just about as beautiful–a portapotty. 

And of course I have to zip into the one that has the wettest seat in the world…ick.

A bit of delay whilst I adjusted my accoutrements, and we played catch-up again.  We were almost there when we crested a hill…

…and everyone was gone.  No walkers, no cops, no volunteers.  And three roads to choose from.  What to do…Yes, it was the same course we’d done before.  But it also crossed roads and areas Meg and I had walked for the Bridge Walk in July.  We had it fairly mixed up in our heads.

I saw some road-closure barriers on a side street down Road #1, so we took that route.  I could see walkers at a crossroads further up, so we figured we had it right.  Closer in, we passed a police officer on a motorcycle.  He asked us, “Did you get off-course?”

Um…yes?  Did we?

He was kind enough to point out that we could get back on by turning onto the road we were heading for anyway.  Thank you, sir, have a nice day.

So that’s where we cheated.  Sort of.  Not our fault.

We managed to not walk about a half-mile, from what I can judge.  The mile markers were unmistakable–big red flags beside the route.  It seemed to me that OUR route was mighty short between Miles 2 and 3.

The dragon boats were having their annual competition on the Willamette, so we walked through their jolly party.  They’re used to us–it seems both events are on the same weekend every year.  Interesting costumes and such.  Of course the denizens of the park–the usual ones–make things adventurous too.  Especially when they yell colorful things at us.  AAAAND we’re walking….,

About this time Meghanne and I launched into our litany of what hurt and what used to hurt, and why the hell were we doing this, and we shouldn’t be hurting like this.  A conversation that gave us momentum the rest of the race.

We finished 6.2 miles in about an hour and a half–hee hee.  Instead of availing ourselves of the freebies, however, we simply limped back the 35 miles or so to the car.  We had the idea of maybe being able to get to church at our regular time, but as we got closer to home,I could see that we’d never make it.

So we got donuts instead.  Church tonight.

Now that I am through with the tale, I am going to go take a bath.  I’m feeling funky and skunky.  It’s not fragrant here…

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