My training for the marathon- one training run of 13 miles and 3 months of lying in bed smoking pot. The morning of the event I woke up as late as possible. I hit the snooze button on my alarm several times. I ate nothing and drank one Red Bull. Used no nipple guards or anti-chafe. I put on my bathing suit and Bering Sea pirate teeshirt, and took a train downtown. Queued up in the 5:45 pace group. Still yawning, I spoke to no one and we were off. I listened to the noise of people until we reached the protests at the Federal Reserve Bank, and then I turned on the local npr internet stream on my iphone. Lucky for me it was Weekend Edition Sunday followed by Bob Edwards Weekend. Somewhere in the stream they spoke with the writer of the new film, The Ides of March, about what it was like to work on Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. They played the Dean Scream*: “Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico**, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York … And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”
*Says wikipedia, “This final ‘Yeah!’ with its unusual tone that Dean later said was due to the cracking of his hoarse voice, has become known in American political jargon as the ‘Dean Scream’ or the ‘I Have A Scream’ speech.”
**I myself am going to New Mexico in two days.
I was hungry. Running is a mental thing, with legs. I remembered eating a lot last year. My legs were tired from the twenty four mile bike ride to pick up my packet the day before. I craved White Castle jalapeno cheeseburgers. No one alongside the course had any food for miles. Sometimes I saw folks cheering and they had set up their own little table with drinks and snacks. I pictured myself running by and snatching a donut. The mental part of running can be hard. The course snaked up through River North and back down through the Loop and then turned straight up North. It was all white people, and they were not sharing their food. There was finally one white woman who rattled a bag of pretzels at me. I was so hungry I ran up and dug my hand in and grabbed as many pretzels as I could and then savored them two at a time for the next few minutes. Other than that I looked forward to the yellow Gatorade sweetness and pictured myself getting high and eating jalapeno cheeseburgers.
Maybe generosity has a racial element, because the only other white person I saw sharing food gave me a red twizzler, which I almost choked to death on*, in mile 17. Timed, intentionally or not, to coincide exactly with what running experts call, “Hitting the wall,” the course turned onto 18th Street. Don’t get me wrong, giving out mini pretzels is generous. A Mexican-American family setting up two banquet tables with ice, melon, a giant plastic bowl of Cocoa Puffs, and candy is generosity on a different level. Despite going it totally alone in this marathon, I think it was the food from Mexican citizens of Chicago and the free goo at mile 18 that ultimately fed the stoned sleeping tiger that I awakened and channeled to run this thing in my personal best time**. Ice cream bars, orange slices, bananas, Skittles, Starburst, sponges. I was hungry and they fed me. By the time I finished the race I was totally full. I did eat all the food in my goodie bag as well as a coconut ice cream treat and one liter of Diet Coke directly after I finished.
Mexican music, to me, is over the top. I’m talking about the traditional music, banda, ranchera. It’s like polka and carnival music in that orchestrated manic way. The trumpets and the keyboards and the voices are on a different level. Frequently, the singer cries out. Aaayyyeee! This is formally called the “Grito Mexicano“. When Americans heard Howard Dean scream, it contributed to his demise in the races. I presume that when many Mexicans first heard the cry, they thought it meant he was a contender.
*But in retrospect whose small energy I judged to be absolutely crucial to my finishing.