On Saturday, 16 July 2022, I attempted a half marathon. And it fucking sucked.
From January to beginning of April this year, I ran 4 - 5 times weekly, covering 8 to 10 kilometers per run. However, in April, I stopped because of Ramadan. I have not redisciplined my self to restart. This discipline bit is important because even when I ran regularly, I did it rather reluctantly. Every day, I would have to start psyching myself from like 6pm, so that by 9pm, I am ready to run. And if for any reason, I am unable to run, I feel elated, like I cheated at something and got away with it. However, I feel good whenever I run. I didn't feel too good after this run though.
The run was organized by Run Club Abuja. I learnt about it when a friend from a literary group invited me to participate. He has been inviting me to run and I'd never honored any of his invites. I decided I had to go for this one so I don't seem flakey. I got an email from the group with start times, the route and other instructions. The email said I should be at the starting point, the national stadium (a magnificent edifice that is slowly falling apart) by 6am. I got there on time only to have to wait because we are not a punctual culture. While waiting for the run to start, I met a few acquaintances. I didn't speak to one of them because he didn't recognize me. I didn't hold it against him because we'd met only once about 4 years ago. I remembered him because we were in a group and I felt like the rube among them.
One thing that really pisses me off is inappropriate behavior. There is a joke about a naval officer who was court martialed because he was seen naked chasing after a girl in a hotel. While defending himself, he quoted naval regulations which required that "...an officer should always be appropriately dressed for the activity in which he is engaged." He argued that he was appropriately dressed and the case was dismissed. I saw some women dressed in burqas. And I got really annoyed, privately of course. Because I didnt talk to them. I dont understand why anyone would think that such garb is appropriate or conducive for sports. I can understand wearing long sleeved shirts and trousers for the run. And even covering one's hair. But a burqa or niqab? That is just ostentatiously religious. And I think hypocritical.
My ire was however not reserved for only the muslim women. There were some people on rollerblades, wearing t-shirts blazoned "volunteer". They were the route guides. They were flitting around, feeling cool I imagine. And I was thinking "look at these idiots, as old as they are (I doubt any of them was younger than 25), they are feeling cool because they are doing what kids ought to be doing." In particular, there was an oldish looking young woman, probably late 20s, tattooed, pierced, shrieking with laughter who really annoyed me. I was annoyed because I was jealous at her lack of inhibition. I am too self conscious to abandon myself to the moment like that. So, I am resentful at people who can.
So it was with all these petty and unworthy thoughts in my mind that I began the race. I used to think I had stamina. That while I might not run fast, I can run for long. When I began running, I told myself that I would run the entire cause or die trying. I quickly revised my determination to running 15 kilometers, which is about the maximum I had run in the last 2 years. People were passing me but I was consoling myself that I would soon catch up to them as their initial enthusiasm flagged. In particular, there was a guy with a rather oddly shaped head (his head looks like that of a stubborn person) who kept trading places with me. He would pass me, then walk a bit and then I would pass him. However, I soon realized that I would not be able to run for long. In fact, I started walking at the 5 kilometer mark because there were some murderous stairs just before the marker. By the time I'd run up them, I was winded. And I began to stroll. I continued alternating between walking and running until I reached the end of the route. I got a rather nice medal for completion.
Other than the guy with the funny head, there was another man with huuuuuge calves. I have really skinny calves and so I notice them a lot. Seeing this man's endowments, I was reminded of qualia. Perhaps the way my legs feel is not how others feel theirs. It is possible that some people are aware that a part of their body is heavy. Or in my own case, probably light. There was also a grossly fat woman who took part in the 10 kilometer course that was happening the same time. Her arse seemed to be half her height.
There were some food vendors at the finish line (which was also the start line). While on the route, I'd gotten hungry and I was actively thinking of what to eat. The food on display looked good - shawarmas, roasted fish, burgers etc. My money, phone, and wallet were in the car. I decided to get them and join the party that seemed to be taking shape because I know my life is really boring. I rarely ever socialize. Most of the new people I meet are through work. The day prior to the run, I'd gone for a book club which I enjoyed. I should have stayed back after it finished to socialize. But I left immediately. So, I thought mingling after the run would make up for my behavior of the day before. Alas, on getting to my car, I changed my mind and just left. While I am sociable and can even be good company, I really don't like crowds where fun is the aim and thus obligatory. It all starts to feel unpleasant due to the enforced conversation, feigned interest and fake laughter.
I am resolved to start running regularly and build up my stamina. Hopefully, the next time I am invited for a half marathon, I will run the entire course.