Friday, September 19, 2008

The Red Ants

It was almost The Perfect Run.

But as you can tell from my Vince Lombardi quote on the right, perfection is rarely attainable. But through its pursuit we can become excellent. Or something of the sort (can you tell I'm not looking while writing. Still pretty close, if you as me).

It (said run) began with my decision to sport my trusty heart rate monitor. And run in the afternoon. Before your jaw drops too much (I'm a morning running-person and will avoid the Florida afternoon heat at all costs unless training for Gulf Coast), it was a mere 80. Sorry for my friends up in New York - where the morning temperature was a brisk 24.

That is not fair.

Sorry guys!

So heart rate monitor strapped on, I set off from the water tower parking lot on the UWF campus and made my way around campus drive. Down a short hill, onto the grassy median and then up, down, and up up up again. Until I reached the Overlook Point. Yes - we DO have an overlook in Pensacola, Florida.

After the obligatory 20 minute warm-up as denoted by Coach Jen, I upped the pace and settled into zone 2. No, I realize I'm not training for anything in particular - merely just to get "in shape". But Man-Oh-Man, apparently I forgot what it feels like to hold zone 2. It was tougher than I remembered.

But I settled into a comfortable groove, and listened to the patter of my feet and Darth Vader-like breathing. The breathing was ME, in case you were wondering.

And I waited for the blow up. I figured it would come somewhere around 40 or 45 minutes. You know - the point where you body says "no more", but in your head, you have yourself convinced that you must run for at least an hour at x heart rate....

At least that's what it said on my schedule. Which was written by Jen. And I don't think she's trying to hurt me in any way - so I knew I should HTFU (yes, I said it!) and keep going. So I did. And it felt great.

Until I ran into the Red Ants.

You see, when I run, I try to pick up litter or trash. Just the big and annoying stuff. Like plastic bags or large wrappers. And at the next garbage can (which are conveniently placed every few blocks on campus), I'll toss it in the trash. Where it belongs. Anyway, this is the stuff that small animals could choke on. At least that's what I tell myself. Plus, who wants to run in the woods with constant litter all over the place?

Sheesh - I stop my car and bike to rescue turtles. I might as well do the same for the environment if I have a chance.

Apparently, someone decided that they wanted to eat something really sugary, full of fat, gooey-garbage that probably tasted really good, but had a shelf-life on 8 years. And then the same jerk decided to throw their sticky wrapper out the window. It wasn't so much the crap on the wrapper that got me going.

It was the red ants that were swarming all over it.

I guess I was too focused on my zone 2 heart rate, running along in my element. The effort was still "lighter" (I was only at 28 minutes), and I had yet to hit that wonderful 45-minute bonk point.

So I paused momentarily, stepped in a pile of sand, and picked up said wrapper and engulfed it in the Target plastic bag I was already carrying. The sand was a big mistake. Note to self: look down before stopping - lest there be snakes, alligators, or red ants.

About :45 or 1 minute later, I felt a slight stinging on my shoe. Thinking nothing of it, I continued on - oblivious for another half minute. It was becoming worse. No - there are some things that just can't be avoided.



And Red Ants.

I looked down, only to be horrified by the sight of (literally) my entire right foot engulfed in red ants. Okay, okay, slight exaggeration. But there were about 40 or 50. They were everywhere. And they were mad.

So I did a crazy chicken-like dance, trying to get the blasted ants off my foot, off my shins, and out of my socks. The little buggers were incessant. Eventually I managed to kill most of them - and those that remained died an awful death in my shoe. After they stung me, of course. Well if they're going to do that, they deserve to suffocate in my socks. Yuck.

Problem solved?

Not bloody likely.

Because there were still a lot of red ants on the sticky wrapper that I had within the Target plastic bag. And they found an escape route - on to my left hand.

So now my left hand was covered in red ants.

It's enough to make an animal lover hate, well - animals. Okay - I'll take that back. I love animals. Just not those that sting. Or have exoskeletons. You know - the crunchy kind. Yeah, I hate those. Ick!

After a second round of slapping and weird convulsions on my part, I disposed of the sticky wrapper - full of angry red ants still - and continued on my way. I did up the pace, in effort to throw the other pieces of plastic away, because they still had red ants all over them. Thank God the trash can was only a minute or two away.

So a near-perfect run was interrupted by a nasty bout (X2!) with red ants. Oh well - in the end they got it worse, I'm sure. As I'm still here, had a great run, and enjoyed a post-run dinner of sushi.

I earned it, after all.

So in my pursuit of perfection, I ended up with an excellent run. And next time, I'll be sure to look before I 1) step in sand and 2) pick up trash.


Damie said...

As if getting in shape isn't hard enough??? I am laughing with you- I was concentrating so much on my ride today that a yellow jacket flew into my mouth and stung me multiple times because I couldn't get it out. It hurt sooooo bad, and the left side of my face looked like someone punched it. Nature can't hold us down, though! Glad you are getting some good runs in!

Steve Stenzel said...

AAAAHHHH!!! That whole post made me squeamish!! I mean, trying to hold zone 2?!?!? Crazy!

Oh, and the ants made me squeamish too..


Kelly said...

OMG! fire ants are soo bad, i use to have nightmares about them growing up. hope you cam eout ok!