I was supposed to do 20 miles, and ended up doing 22. Two friends were going to join me at different points along the run for support of a few miles. I almost killed one. God, I’m such an overachiever.
It all started in the pre-dawn hours of the Putnam County Trailway.
THE PLAN: Head north on the trail. Pick up friend Chris at mile 5, turnaround at mile 7 and head south. Drop of Chris at mile 9. Continue south, past my parking area, to mile 17, where I’d pickup Alison, turnaround, and head north back to my car for the last three miles. I run 20, Alison runs 3, and I drive her back to her car. Simple, right?
THE SCENE: It was raining (of course) and about 45 degrees. It was my first time on this part of the trail, so I had scouted the turnaround point via google maps. I ran in the dark at first, then dawn broke. I noticed how pretty this trail was. Like postcard-New-England-Fall pretty.
Pretty rusted-out car hoods…
Huh? The rest of the trail was practically pristine, and then I come across this car hood propped up on the fence next to the trail. It was about that time that I was overheating in my windbreaker, so I decided to stash it behind the hood, hoping no one would want to haul it off for scrap in the next 2 hours. And hoping that I wouldn’t zone out and pass it by on the way back.
THE ASIDE: Speaking of wardrobe, this is the run in which you test out all of the marathon-day gear and clothing, to make sure it will work on race day with no rubbing, blisters, etc. Here’s my proposed outfit:
I have been nothing short of obsessing over my wardrobe, specifically my bottom half, for the better part of two months now. I’ve got the top half covered. But my worry over the bottom half has to do with what I need to carry with me:
- Hotel card key
- 2 gels
- 1 clif bar
The NY marathon isn’t giving out gels until about mile 18. I need gels before then. However, I have discovered (through trial and horrific error) that if I eat JUST gels as my race fuel, I will have, ahem, tummy troubles of the worst kind. If I carry a Clif bar and take some nibbles every so often, it gives me energy with just enough “heft” that my stomach can handle it.
I decided to try out a SPI (Small Personal Items) Belt. It’s gnarly, dude:
As you can see, that thing was packed. Whereas I’m not planning on having my phone with me for the marathon, I needed to have it with me on this run for safety reasons and to communicate with Chris and Alison. Verdict: SPI belts do not well overloaded. 22 miles of flapping up and down no matter how I cinched it. It gave me a small bruise on my lower back. I’m torn.
SPI-belt aside, my running skirt is quite utilitarian. It was a splurge from Lululemon. Whereas most run skirts, shorts, or capris have one puny pocket, it has not one, not two, but three pockets. But…I’ve now decided, that I don’t like the way it looks on me. It’s too short, it doesn’t look right with my proportions, and the back is pleated so it looks like I’m ready to play field hockey and/or be a parochial school Bad Girl.
The compression sleeves are a “go” since I believe they are slightly alleviating my scrunched toe problem by reducing swelling in my feet. Socks and shoes are all set.
Anyway, I spy with my little eye…Chris, and Erica, and Judah!
Chris and Erica finished their first 5k just a few weeks ago, and Chris said he was game for four miles. (Erica and Judah were going to stroll behind for a bit while we ran.) Chris and I headed north – off we go.
THE FAIL: I can do math – except when I run. I got to Chris at about 4.85 miles. I my lame brain, I couldn’t calculate where the 2 mile marker point was, and while I was kind of keeping my eye out for our turnaround point, I missed it. Next thing I know, we are at the end of the trail, about one mile further than we had planned to go. Now we have to turn around and go back, adding another mile. I felt like the biggest dolt in the world. I didn’t want to make Chris run 6 miles, and he didn’t want to make me walk (we’re a little too nice to each other). Chris ended up pounding through the miles, though at one point I started to hear some heavy breathing and he declared to no one in particular, “I call the couch for the entire afternoon!” I was wondering if I should be remembering my first aid classes, but he kept saying he was ok.
And thank goodness he was…
…or Erica would’ve (deservedly) killed me. Total for Chris: 5.85 miles. After that effort, you can totally round that puppy to SIX. Thank you, friend. Sorry about almost killing you.
THE BURN: Next, I went loco. I really don’t mind running by myself, and I know I’m going to have to run the 26.2 solo, but MY GOD, THE TREES…THE ENDLESS TREES. Oh look, there’s another. And another. I’m going to count the trees to make the time pass. One, two, three…ah, screw counting the trees! Where are the squirrels and the deer when you need them? Foxes? Coyotes? Hello? C’mon, Nature, give me some distractions! For the love of Pete, make the scenery change…
Finally, a tunnel! Really, it’s an underpass, but for the sake of drama, it’s a tunnel.
The mind-numbingly straight-and-pretty run finally comes to a pause as I reach my car (by the way, I did remember to pick up my windbreaker from behind the rusted hood. Take that, boredom!). I do a brief stretch and hydrate, and continue south, 3 more miles to meet Alison.
This three miles was not necessarily more pretty, but it was less boring. Highlights included laundry on a line, the Mahopac Fire Department’s gleaming vehicles, and a woman smoking a joint on her back porch. (Sorry, no photos of any of it.)
Miraculously, I was doing a steady pace, and feeling okay. Keep it all in perspective: I was feeling okay for running 19 miles, but make no mistake, my dogs were a-barkin’.
THE COMEBACK: But look who perked me up! When I met up with Alison at the turnaround point, she had three different drinks for me to choose from (coconut water rocks!) and swiftly sent me a bolt of her own energy that made me think: Yes, I can do three more miles. THREE.
Luckily, Alison is psychological ninja when it comes to practicing The Art of Distraction. Not only did she push the pace, ever so slightly, so that I’d keep up but not keel over, but she was able to make the last three miles be over lickety-split. We talked about kids’ music lessons and invasive plant species. We probably talked about other things but it was over so fast that I don’t remember. Now that is a Master, Ladies and Gentlemen. I want her on my team, always!
When it was all said and done, I was tired and sore, but all essential parts were functioning, there was no chaffing, and I finished in a decent time. I earned some black(er) toenails and a blood blister on my big toe, but since it’s no longer sandal season, I don’t care, because…
…I did not twenty miles, but TWENTY-TWO, suckers! *drops microphone*
(And by “suckers” I mean the Doubts In My Head. Not you, dear readers. I luuurrrrrvvv you. XOXO)
Next week: The Atlantic City Half Marathon. (Preview: I turn 40 and it just about kicks my butt.)