It doesn’t pay to be kind. Believe me. I tried it and it gave me an ulcer.
I trained for the Boilermaker—an elite race of 13,000 crazies who run the streets of
Morning came. The wake-up call beckoned me at 5:30 a.m. I arose, washed, drank coffee and had my devotion time and let Neil sleep. He’d have to stand around in the heat and try to find me in the running throngs and snap attractive pictures of me as I past—all sweaty and exhausted. At 6:45 I woke him. He showered. Chatted with the hotel personnel about a Corvette museum. I should have realized trouble brewed because the parking lot of our sold-out motel was empty.
The start line lay only five miles away, and I had fifteen minutes to get there. No sweat. I hit the Garmin GPS and settled back. We’d drive the backstreets because the course would be closing to vehicles for the race.
Little did I know, they closed ALL the roads. The implacable cops wouldn’t let us pass a major artery and drive down the road that cut across to the start line. We had to backtrack. Found Highway 5. Headed north.
On our way to the start at last, I couldn’t settle. Ms Garmin told me I’d arrive at 7:47. I was supposed to be there by 7:45. And by nature, if I’m not fifteen minutes early—I’m late.
We hit traffic backups because cars c navigate couldn’t get on to the closed streets. I contemplated hopping out and jogging—but still we were five miles away. I had barely trained for the nine mile course—fourteen would kill me.
At last we crawled to our exit. Ms Garmin tried to navigate us back onto roads closed to vehicles. We shut her off.
At last, with five minutes to race time, we arrived near the starting area. Of course, no cars could get closer. Before Neil stopped our Sebring, I hopped out, asked directions and jogged down the short street.
At last, I turned the corner and there stood 13,000 people—headed by scrawny, young African elite runners waiting for the starting gun.
I jogged on.
I made it!.
“You can’t go there.” A guard stopped me.
“But how do I get to my race start?”
She pointed down a side road. “Go that way, turn right.”
She minced no words.
Two minutes to go. And another detour.
I ran. As did other latecomers. I turned the corner. Ahead of me lay a field. Beyond the field a fence and a line-up of runners with numbered black bibs attached to their shirts. My corral.
Over hummocks, through weeds, I wended my way. I nudged into line. Wiggled my way that warm morning between hot bodies. Stood shoulder to shoulder (almost haunch to paunch as Tom Wolfe would say.)
Final instructions reverberated. Wave to Governor Patterson as you cross the start line.
Not only did he gridlock our government—but the start of the Boilermaker as well.
I thought all was well. But time would tell.
To be continued.