So guess what I did? No, really. Guess. You’ll never get it. Why? Because it’s ridiculous. I mean, it’s not Justin Bieber mug shot ridiculous. (Really, what is?) It’s not Rob Ford ridiculous. (Again, Canada.) It’s not even Pharrell Williams’s hat ridiculous, which is saying something since I’m a big fan of hats. (You keep rockin’, Daft Punk.) But still.
I signed up for a 5K. On an indoor track. A 200-meter, banked indoor track.
For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s twenty-five laps and fifty turns in three miles. More specifically, fifty left turns. In three miles.
Yeah. Did anyone’s IT band just snap?
My fellow Runna Babez teammate Lisa roped me into it. It’ll be fun! she said. You can run a PR! she said. You can scratch it off your bucket list! she said. She was smiling. She looked happy. She looked excited.
I said it without thinking. I must have been confused. I gave my consent before I realized what it was, exactly, I was agreeing to. Wait a second… I thought twenty minutes later. Racing on an indoor track isn’t on my bucket list…
Doh! Duped again.
And so, on Friday, I will be traveling to the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse at Indiana University to race a 5K, roller derby style. Since I know as much about indoor track and field as Taylor Swift knows about long-term relationships, the first thing I did when I got home was Google “indoor track Indiana University.” Actually, I did a Google image search first. I wanted to see what I was getting myself into before I read about it. After a quick visual inspection, I delved into Wikipedia, the beacon of encyclopedic integrity, for further information.
“Ooo… It’s a ‘Mondo-surfaced’ track,” I read aloud. “Mondo. Monnnndo.” Even though I had no idea what a “Mondo-surfaced track” was, I couldn’t stop repeating it for some reason. I was like Will Ferrell and “Francisco” in the movie Elf. “Mondo. Monndooooh.”
As it turns out, “Mondo surfacing” refers to an Italian company, Mondo, that makes a specific, trademarked track surface. While “Mondo” is often misused as a generic term for rubber tracks (a.k.a. “Kleenex” for tissue), a true Mondo track is designed like a rubber carpet with tight, linear seams for a superior, consistent feel. IU boasts a real Mondo track. So will the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
So, you know, I’ve got that goin’ for me.
After several minutes of internet research, I began to feel a little better about my impending foray into the world of indoor track, though weighty questions still remained:
How many people will be in the race?
How do they fit everyone on the track?
Will people try to trip me?
How banked is the track?
Am I going to feel like tipping over?
Will I be the oldest one there?
Will there be music?
How sharp are the turns?
Will I get dizzy?
Am I going to get really hot?
Do they have fans for air circulation like they do at the YMCA?
Who is going to count all the laps?
Do I have to count the laps?
What if I lose count?
How will I know when I’m done?
Will there be a lap counter?
Will he wave a checkered flag like they do in NASCAR?
The laps really tripped me up. I couldn’t get over it. I pictured myself going around in circles forever, having no idea how far I’d run, asking random passers-by, “Hey, do you happen to know what lap I’m on?” I also bounced back and forth between vivid imagery of Talladega Nights and short track speedskating. I mean, honestly, the only person I’ve ever seen running on foot on a banked track is Will Ferrell (again).
“You’re not on fire, Ricky Bobby!” I imagined myself saying the moment I stepped on the track.
Then, of course, there was the issue of the sharp left turns.
Am I going to have to do crossovers? I wondered. I could see myself tucking my left arm behind my back and swinging my right pendulum-style as I raced. I could be the Apolo Ohno of indoor track! Maybe I’m about to become the greatest left-turner of all time! Maybe I’ll be in a Subway commercial!
The possibilities in this race are endless.
Despite my initial sense of doom and misgiving, I am, quite frankly, excited to become acquainted with Mr. Harry Gladstein and his fieldhouse. In fact—dare I say it?—I think I’m more excited than I am terrified. The love affair that was kindled on Thanksgiving is now a roaring fire. I’m ready to race again, by golly. I’m ready to train. I’m ready to PR and waltz with new levels of pain and conquer ingrained fears of shorter distances. I’m ready to trample old limits into the Mondo track. Because—did I tell you?—I’ve got a half marathon this spring, and I’m ready for redemption. The last time I made a half marathon my goal race, I was body-slammed to the pavement in the last one hundred meters by a guy who was banditing the race. The tumble knocked me out of the top ten (quite literally) and left me bloodied and bruised.
This isn’t “The best revenge is living well” kinda redemption. This is vendetta redemption.
The Frostbite Series has been a great kickoff to training (there’s one more race left, if y’all wanna join), and while Forest Park and a 200-meter indoor track aren’t exactly two beans in the same burrito—namely because you occasionally turn right in Forest Park—they’re both part of a complete racing breakfast. Forest Park is the egg-whites-only omelet. The indoor track is the random bowl of Lucky Charms that leaves you questioning whether or not you would be better to omit that particular item from your morning nutrition routine. I’m pretty sure Lucky Charms are the ultimate photo bomb in the “complete breakfast” family portrait. I picture the eggs and toast and oatmeal gathering around the camera to make sure no one was blinking when all of a sudden the orange juice notices the bowl of dehydrated marshmallows wedged between the fruit and the milk carton. “Hey… wait a second…”
I guess you could say Lucky Charms are the Daft Punk of breakfast foods. Sure, they look a little quirky, but it works.
And that brings us back to the race. According to my calculations, an indoor 5K = Lucky Charms = Daft Punk = ridiculous but awesome. Therefore, an indoor 5K = ridiculous but awesome.
I’ll let you know how it goes.