HOW D.C. DOES IT
There we stood - about 30 helpless people who had just been deposited on the side of the road in what appeared to be Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. It was 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and my friend Jenn and I were just trying to make it to Washington, D.C. by Sunday morning. We had entered a 5k race that would put us one step closer to qualifying for the 2007 New York Marathon.
"Things have to get better," said Jenn. "The back of the bus says "Double Happiness."
Ironically enough, I was double tired, double cranky and double scared.
I was scared because without informing us, the driver of the "Dragon" bus had taken a detour through Brooklyn to change a flat tire. After screaming "Everyone off right now," he pulled into a mysterious garage, almost taking out the second bus already parked inside. We waited for over an hour until we were allowed back on the bus. All I could think of was that I had left my laptop inside and it was taking an awful long time for the supposed tire change. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.
We finally made it to D.C. with all of our belongings (surprisingly, since a few weeks earlier one of the Chinatown buses had flipped over). We were a little defeated, but still had enough time to grab some dinner in our nation's capital, run the race, and get back on the sweet Dragon bus home. Our night in Arlington consisted of faux tapas and a cocktail called the Suffering Bastard. It seemed fitting.
After mastering the D.C. Metro, Jenn and I were at the race on Sunday morning. We were a little baffled at the scene we encountered. Were we just really early?
I thought. More people had been in the bar the night before than had turned out for the race (although I may have had double vision caused by the Suffering Bastard). I registered onsite and was number 899. This was on the heels of my last NYC race, which attracted 10,351 runners.
So much for our plans to take it slow and finish somewhere in the middle of the heap. We looked around for out-of-shape runners that would surely trail us, but there were none. There weren't nearly as many participants as in a typical New York race, but those who did show meant business. The event kicked off with a group stretching session at the starting line. I was slightly intimidated, but did my squats nonetheless.
Never mind the lack of runners - the lack of spectators was disturbing. I think I counted 12. Add to that the fact that I was wearing all black on an 85-degree morning, and you can imagine my mood. I was questioning my sanity.
Then things took a turn (literally, around a rotary, but also for the better). There was something wonderful about running past national monuments in a group of people that remained almost silent. The city, for that half-hour, was all ours.
We also found out that the race, the Thomas G. Labrecque Classic, was to raise money for Lung Cancer. Jenn's mother was diagnosed earlier this year. Suddenly, it didn't seem so insane to trek all the way to D.C. for a 5k.
Jenn and I stayed afterward and talked to some amazing Cancer survivors. We later sat outside and had a glass of wine at a quaint Mediterranean restaurant. And when we boarded the Dragon bus, it didn't smell quite as bad as we remembered. And really, what could we expect for $20 roundtrip?