Aaron's Real Opinions:

Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008 Day 37

A True Day of Rest…
Sunday, May 25, 2008
0 Days Until Bolder Boulder

No matter how long I may have wanted to sleep, it wasn’t easy for me to sleep past 5:00 am no matter what happened. I tried to get some extra rest but wasn’t surprised at my inability to stay in bed. The Sun was up and work beckoned me.

I was committed to not doing any physical exercise today and didn’t think that would be a problem. I weighed in at 204 so I knew I would be running the Race at almost 20 pounds more than I wanted but, at this point, short of emergency surgery, I knew that was simply the reality I had to accept. I decided I would still try to get to 185 this Summer but also appreciated how difficult that would be for someone who enjoyed eating as much as I did.

When I took out the dogs in the morning, I noticed it was warm outside. That wasn’t good news if today was a predictor of tomorrow’s weather. The good news was the weather forecast was changing and looked progressively better. The low was projected to be 45°F, which was slightly higher than I would have liked but certainly was much better than 55°F.

I was amazed at how much each additional degree slowed me down. Running at 35°F was twice as good for me compared to 45°F but I would be happy with 45°F simply because it was so much better than 55°F. Of course, by the time the Race started, it probably would be 50°F or higher but that was OK (and, again, better than 60°F).

Rain was in the forecast but there was no indication when that might occur. I checked to see there was a small chance of rain in the morning and hoped it would happen. Rain before the Race would guarantee the course was clean and the air would be fresh. Rain during the Race would be great, especially if it were a light drizzle, because it would keep me cool and avoid the necessity of taking detours through sprinklers which people had on for runners to use.

I worked on various television program-related tasks and corresponded with the White House about my request to interview the President. I got a quick response by phone and was told the President’s schedule was so jam-packed that he would not be able to join me this time. I responded by suggesting a time be found while he was at the White House. It would be interesting to see if they actually put something together.

The White House was unduly protective of the President. My perspective was, with just nine months left in his eight-year Administration, he had nothing to lose. Plus the President was quite good at one-on-one sessions and certainly had nothing to fear by doing an interview with me. I concluded I should get back in touch in a week or so. Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and, in this case, all I was venturing were e-mail electrons.

I also got a nice e-mail from the White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino. She had grown up in Colorado and had been appointed to the position when Tony Snow decided to leave. Snow had cancer and decided to leave the White House to make some money for his family. My guess was he would be lucky to make it through this year. It was sad to see anyone get cancer and reminded me how fragile life was.

Dana was a true Bush devotee. She thought the world of the President and did a great job representing him. I was sure he had to be pleased with her work and performance in what was one of the most demanding jobs in the world – shielding the President from the Press.

I had known White House Press Secretaries primarily from Democratic Administrations – DeeDee Myers, Mike McCurry, and Joe Lockhart – with David Gergen the one Republican I had met (but didn’t really know at all). They all always told me how exciting and difficult the position was. I don’t think any of them regretted leaving the position.

I spent a fair bit of time on the phone, including a longer-than-usual daily call to my Mother. I also spent a long time with Jim Dorsey, a good friend in Cleveland who also came up with some of the best research and questions for my television program. Jim knew more about Economics than some of the top economists and was top-notch at identifying critical issues. He was an invaluable asset to me because he often did the equivalent of the work of a team of researchers. It was always fun and a challenge to talk with Jim.

A good part of the day was spent helping my daughter organize her final attack on all the work she needed to complete before school ended this Thursday. We focused on Math, Science, and Spanish. She actually was on the border, grade-wise, in three of her courses and her teachers were giving her the opportunity to achieve at a higher level so we talked about how she could do it. We reviewed all of her work and what still needed to be done. She was unenthusiastic about it because she already was thinking about summer vacation. I couldn’t blame her but this was a great opportunity to experience how three or four days of hard work could pay off so immediately.

A good friend and one of my favorite musical artists, Nina Storey, called to wish me well. She wanted me to run in spirit for her because she had wanted to be in the Race but had to get back to Los Angeles, where she now lived, to get ready for a big performance. She suggested we look at running another race in June or July but I told her to first see how I survived the Bolder Boulder.

In between calls and work, I did household chores such as laundry and ate with reckless abandon. With the Race a matter of hours away, I had given up on running as a svelte entrant. I knew I wasn’t going to be near my weight target so I dined “freely.”

I made a version of huevos rancheros which could have served a family and also cooked sausage with garlic. I drank several glasses of milk, had seltzer water, consumed three ice cream bars, and also knocked off two multigrain waffles with butter. I justified all of this with the alleged need for “carbo-loading” before the Race. The truth was I had done all the carbo-loading I needed about four months ago.

The day also was spent getting my team organized for the Race. There would be between four and eight people trying to take photos of me. With 53,000 people running, it would be very difficult to get any good shots but it was worth a try. There were a number of logistical issues, especially with a full schedule already set for members of the Media.

Once the Race was over for me, I would visit with some people and then would head back home to get cleaned up and change my clothes. Next I would go back to the Race and see the Memorial Day celebration, the finish of the Men’s International Race, the finish of the Women’s International Race, and visit with attendees. I also would attend the luncheon for the Press where the results were announced. That was a nice opportunity to visit with many of the world-class athletes after they had competed.

This year I would be realistic about my actual Race goals as a runner. With 20 extra pounds, I knew I would be lucky to break 70 minutes. My first goal was to finish the Race. Period. If I didn’t have a heart attack, I would be pleased. My second goal was to finish at 75 minutes or less (“75 minutes” sounds so much faster than “1 hour and 15 minutes,” doesn’t it?)

If I could break 70 minutes, that would be great because I had never finished the Race in more than about 66¼ minutes or so. It would be nice to stay under 70 but I knew it probably was unrealistic given my lack of real training and the fact I weighed more than I should. Yes, I started my weight-loss effort at 226 pounds and would be down to no more than 206 on Race Day but the reality was the 226 was a result of a period of having not worked out at all. I really should be at +/-185 so I knew I was headed for a tough run.

My running partner would make certain I finished the Race, come hell or high water, but I also knew that, as one tired and became delirious, it was easy to convince oneself of anything – including, “Hey, I’m going to walk a while.”

This actually was a major issue for me because some of my better running times came when I actually stopped running for a couple of minutes and then resumed my run. I didn’t know if that would work anymore, however, because nowadays, when I stopped running and walked, I found it difficult to start running again. Instead, I would start looking for a place to curl up and sleep!

Another decision point was whether or not to eat something before the Race. Normally, I never ate before exercising. It almost always made me uncomfortable as soon as I began exercising. Plus, with the extra weight I had, it wasn’t as if I didn’t have energy reserves to utilize.

Yet another “big” decision was to wear a hat. I did not like wearing hats but, even at 7:15 am (and certainly by 8:15 am), the Sun would be beating down on my generally unprotected head. I needed to find a hat. I wanted white hat but had not found one. I had run once with a black hat and found that was really dumb because it absorbed all the Sun’s rays and heated me up even more. Talk about forgetting basic physics!

The best I could do were two old white hats. One had “Romer” emblazoned in blue across the front. I doubted many people would recognize it from one of Roy Romer’s campaigns for Governor. The other said, “Gary Hart” in big letters and “For President” in smaller letters underneath. My guess was this was from his 1984 campaign.

The Hart hat had a cross-crossed or net-like surface so the Sun would partially penetrate it so
I decided to go with the Romer hat because it offered more protection. My hope was it would be overcast and I would not even need to wear a hat.

Even without a hat I would be OK because I now had a headband. Until I purchased one a couple of weeks ago, I had never worn one. While I initially found it disconcerting – having a tight band around my head – I quickly adapted to it and liked the way it kept sweat from pouring into my eyes. It was about 80% effective and that made a big difference.

I already was putting items into the car for tomorrow and hoped to be well-prepared. I started to think about the Race and was looking more forward to the military jet flyover for the Memorial Day celebration than the run itself. In fact, for the first time I had ever run the Race, I actually was dreading what likely would happen tomorrow.

Oh well, it was too late to back out now… or was it? I didn’t feel well and noticed I was getting a bit dizzy every time I stood up. It made me think it might be a good idea to reconsider running the Race but, being a guy, I said, “No way – I’m running this Race no matter what.”

To get a good night’s sleep, I promised myself I would go to bed by 9:00 pm. In that manner, even if I arose at 2:00 am, I would have gotten at least five hours of sleep. What a great plan!

My Producer, Chuck Fiorella called to go over final details. He suggested I not run the Race because he knew I was out of shape and tired. I told him I would walk, if I didn’t feel I reassured him by reminding him that, after tomorrow’s Race, almost one million people will have entered the Bolder Boulder and in that 30-year span of almost 1,000,000 people, just one person had died during the Race. I laughed saying, “See, the odds are a million to one against my croaking.”

Of course, that wasn’t an accurate calculation of the odds. If one computed the odds of a runner dying based on age, physical condition, amount of rest, et cetera, I knew the odds probably were 100 times worse. That still made them 10,000 to 1 against anything fatal happening so I wasn’t worried. Plus the Race organizers had great medical care available along the entire course. I would be revived quickly, I assured him.

Angela called at 8:15 pm and suggested I pick her up rather than rendezvous here and I said I would do that. I would first pick up Bill Jones en route to her place and then head out to the University of Colorado, where we would park.

At 8:30 pm, I made dinner for Holly and then tried hard to start getting ready for by 9:30 pm. So much for my early to bed plan. Holly needed some help and then was hungry. Before I knew it, it was 10:30 pm and my plan to hit the hay was totally shot. I ended up getting to sleep as the clock approached 11:00 pm.

The good news was it was getting cloudy out. My last thought was that I might get lucky and have rain in the morning. That would make the air fresh and cool – perfect for a run.