I wasn't sure I was going to blog about this experience because, quite frankly, it's a little embarrassing.
But, then again, that kind of thing never really stopped me before.
So, here goes.
On Saturday, my friend, Matt (also known as OBH-Orange Beacon of Hope, so named because he always wears a bright orange singlet/tank at races and is usually in front of all of us. So, we just fix our gaze on the "OBH" and we know we're having a good race), and I met up in Hampstead, NH for the 19th Annual St. Anne's Lakes Race. He and I did this race together back in 2005. I had run this course every year from 2003-2008, so I knew the course fairly well. The race started at 9 a.m., so we decided to meet up between 7:45-8:00 a.m. to pick up our race bag/bib # and shirt.
I arrived at 7:45 a.m. sharp. The race site is a mere 7.5 miles from my house, so it was easy to be on time. Had I been training for an ultra, I could have run there and back while running the race inbetween, but I'm not that ambitious (yet). Matt arrived about 15-20 minutes after me. Once we got our numbers pinned on and race ready, we hit the portables followed by the road for a 1.5 mile warm-up. As in previous years, we start at the finish line and jog the course in reverse, going .75/mi. out and .75/mi. back. It's a good psychological boost because you get to practice running along most of the last mile. This course features a fast, downhill start and a, well, "less fast" escalating uphill finish. After we got sufficiently sweaty, I headed back to my car for my Sour Patch Kids.
Sour Patch Kids, you say?
Yes. Sour Patch Kids. I like to put a couple in my mouth before I run or race, because it keeps it from getting dry. They're sour and sweet and chewy and I JUST REALLY LIKE THEM, OKAY????
After I got what I came for, I hit the lock button on my remote and tucked it, with the ignition key, into the handy dandy/built-in key pocket that most running shorts are designed with. I was sporting my new favorite Old Navy black and white shorts. This was not the first time I had worn these on a training run OR at a race, so I knew the key/remote would fit in there. Matt and I made our way to the starting line. After about 10 minutes of pre-race announcements and the singing of the national anthem, the gun went off.
I used to do short races with my iPod all the time. I thought I needed the loud, angry "Kill Your Mother/Kill Your Father" type music to motivate me to run my best and fastest. I have decided to run my past two races "sans tunes" because I would like to focus more on my footstrike, breathing and environment. That's not so easy to do when you have the likes of Anthrax and Slipknot blaring in your ears. So, I went "UNPLUGGED" for this race. I also didn't really have an "agenda" for this. I figured anything between 37-40 minutes for the 5 miler would be somewhat respectable, since I hadn't raced this distance in quite some time (my PR on this course was 37:01). Besides, I had a three hour run planned for the next day and I wanted to make sure I would be fresh enough for that.
I ended up seeing OBH before the Mile 3 Marker. His hamstring was locking up on him, so he was running when he could and walking when he needed to. I grabbed water after seeing him, contemplating the idea of hanging back with him. But, I knew he wouldn't want that. I also knew that, yes, it was part out of concern for him, but more out of avoiding the challenge of running fast. I am still learning how to channel my inner speed demon who shies away from nothing and is uber fearless (I know she's in there). After waffling back and forth about this from Mile 3 to about 3.5, I decided to stop looking at my watch and run at a hard pace, but one that I knew I could sustain for the remainder of the race.
And that's what I did.
It wasn't a PR, but it met my "respectable range" criteria: 39:10.
Here are the official race results:
Matt came in a minute or two after me. We chatted with my friend, Adam, after the race, who came in about a minute or so before me. I went on a cool-down run and headed back to the post-race area.
Now THIS is when the story gets interesting.
I'm standing there talking to Adam and Matt when something tells me to reach for my key which...wasn't...there.
Gone Daddy Gone. No key. No remote. The pocket was completely empty.
I attempted to keep the panic from rising in my voice as I shared this little tidbit with my two companions. We looked around the general area and started to brainstorm, hoping to come up with where and when it got misplaced. We even walked back part of the cool-down run I did, thinking maybe it popped out around there. None of us spotted it. We even asked the race director to announce the missing key before the awards ceremony just so people could be on the lookout for a black pontiac key w/remote.
Both Adam and I placed in the top 3 of our respective age groups, which meant we'd be receiving trophies. Since I couldn't get into my car anyway, we figured we'd hang around for a while. Thankfully, I wasn't alone and had friends...friends with CELL PHONES. These are the times I really love technology. I am also glad that I had taken the time to commit my husband's digits to memory so I could get myself some help. After swapping texts/calls with him and talking to my friends, it was decided that Matt would bring me home and my husband would meet us there with the spare key to my car.
After Adam and I got our awards, Matt and I said our goodbyes and headed out. He suggested we drive parts of the course to see if I could spot the key lying on the side of the road. Sounded like a good idea to me, and he didn't seem to mind carting my a$$ around, so that's what we did. No key anywhere in sight. Then, he says, "what if I drive you back to where your car is parked? We stopped there after the warm-up. Maybe you dropped your key there or left a door unlocked? You never know." At this point, I had no other options or ideas, so I agreed. We get to my car and I hopped out of his truck to walk over to the red car. First, I tried the passenger door which, I KNEW, was locked. Then, I bent down to peek underneath the car to see if the key fell under there.
It was at this point that I heard the "rattle".
The "rattle" is the sound made when the key and the remote sort of clang together.
Perplexed, I stopped and looked down. I put my hand underneath the elastic on the left hand side of my shorts and pulled it away from my skin.
My key, complete with remote, fell to the ground.
I stood there, dumbstruck, for what felt like five minutes, but it was probably only a second or two. I bent down to pick it up while simultaneously turning to look over my shoulder. Matt was peeking out of his truck to see how I was doing. I smiled sheepishly and held the key up in the air for him to see.
It was never lost.
It was in my shorts near my, ahem, "private parts".
Don't ask me how it got from the inside key pocket to the other side of the built-in running shorts underwear. Don't ask me how I couldn't tell or how I didn't get "poked".
Insert any blonde joke here that you'd like. They'd all be appropriate and I certainly deserve it.
But, at least I can laugh at myself. And believe me, I did. I think the best part of it was calling my husband back to tell him he didn't have to meet me at the house because I found my key. He says, "Really? That's great...where was it?" I just kept saying, "I just...found it."
So the moral of the story is this: the next time you put a key in your running shorts, just be aware that contents have a tendency to shift during flight. But, if you buy your shorts at Old Navy like me, fear not. They use REALLY good elastic.
“The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.” -- Douglas Engelbart