I awake with a start, muscles tense and jaw clenched.
“Good God,” I say to my ceiling, melting back into my bed with an exhale.
I’m 11 months and three weeks out from potentially-maybe-perhaps jogging a big-boy race, and I’m having anxiety-riddled nightmares. My subconscious is pissed.
If my body and mind hold out, and that’s a relatively large “if,” May 2017 will include a 26.2-mile jog in Fargo.
The thought of running a marathon probably passes through every serious runner’s mind. Thankfully, I’m a jocund jogger who had never been afflicted with such insanity.
Until last May’s Fargo Marathon.
I jogged the Half, and I jogged it well — too well, it turns out. I started that sunny Saturday with my pals Andy and Lard. We were jogging nine-minute miles, giving high-fives to passerbys and jamming to Jog Squad’s Spotify playlist.
Maybe we’d run a sub-two-hour race, but I hadn’t done the math on what the splits needed to be for that. It’d be cool, but it wasn’t a concern.
Then, on Mile Nine, we hit what felt like the 30th underpass, and on the way up we lost Lard. Fargo isn’t so pancake-y when the race goes under Main Avenue. Damn human-made inclines.
Andy and I zipped along, passing fellow joggers and walkers who started the 13.1-mile jaunt by sprinting. Every pair of soles passed seemed like a pat on the back and a dare to go faster. By Mile 11, our pace had sped up to an eight-minute-mile clip, and then Andy disappeared.
At that moment, I ran a race for the first time without a takkenjog partner. My first half was jogged with my main, Beef. The next was with a hobbled Turk.
But now I was alone, with hundreds of others of strange runners, two miles away from the Fargodome finale.
So I picked up the pace and went about finishing the race. To be honest, I swear this shirtless pre-teen jeered at me at Mile 12, so like a non-pedophile, I started chasing after him.
He crossed the finish line a few seconds before I hurled my body over it (I’m the lime-green on the far right).
I saw my time: 1:55:41, adjusted for start time. My time last year was 2:18:00. My final splits were low-sevens.
“Marathon,” I thought while drinking my complimentary Michelob after the race. “Marathon.”
The night after the race, I plugged in the hypothetical training miles I should put in to train for such a race, a regime that begins with a three-miler in January.
And I’ve been having nightmares ever since.