Sunday, February 9, 2014

Awful and epic: 28 miles and 280 emotions

Well, here's a hilarious post.... I wrote this on Sunday night but never shared it on FB so it didn't get a lot of reads. I was thrilled to be done with my longest training run and so excited in the knowledge that I was going to do well with the 40. If you are an FB friend you already know the disaster that struck me last night. (Don't worry, there'll be a post)... But for now, read this and see how ready I was (WAS) for March 15.

Saturday morning was the Big One. Well, not THEE Big One. But as far as training for the 40 miler is concerned, it was the greatest challenge on my training plan.

Twenty eight miles.

That's 10 miles. And then 10 more miles. And then, for fun, another 8.

That's a whole marathon with 1.8 miles on top just for giggles.

That's 45.0616 Kilometers.

That's further than I drive to work in the morning. And it takes me more than 30 minutes to drive to work.

Okay. Okay okay okay okay. You know how far 28 miles is. And you knew how far it was before I gave you those oh-so-helpful explanations. But those little clarifications give you an example of what was going through my head as I was preparing for this training run. In so many ways, it just sounds ridiculous. And it is.

To add to the ridiculousness, the weather (as has been its habit this winter) added a big "oh, crap" factor to my efforts. The daytime temps were forecast for mid-20s (practically tropical) but since I refuse to be an absentee mom/wife on Saturdays, my 5AM start time was accompanied by 7 degree temps and -1 degree windchill. And my phone's forecast said it was actually going to get COLDER as the sun came up. Yippee kaye aye fother mucker.

Donning my quadruple layers + scarf  + hat + thick gloves + blaze orange vest + headlamp + hand warmers, (and looking AWESOME, though you'll have to trust me on that since I did not photograph any part of this run) I left the house (late) at 4:40AM. I arrived at the Moultonborough school parking lot and hit the road at about 5:10. The first mile was so cold that I was 100% certain that I would not be able to do the entire effort. I also noticed that my usually lonesome pre-dawn road was downright BUSY with pick ups towing trailers. Then I remembered that this was the annual fishing derby on Lake Winnipesaukee. Those ice fisherman must be NUTS to get up that early just to go fishing. I mean, who on earth would get up at that hour to freeze outside and...



Never mind....

So, my body temp dropping and my zen-like state disrupted by Tundras and F150s, I trotted on. Blessedly, my podcast pals did not let me down and I managed to maintain a mostly respectable pace. Anything to be done with the cold! I was NOT doing any 28 miles.

At mile 7, my first turn around point, I'm feeling like the cold is not as much of a factor the sun was starting to come up. On the surface of it this would seem to be a cause for celebration. "Ahhhh! The world awakes! I am human!" But until this weekend, I have been shrouded in darkness for more than 1/2 of the long weekend runs. It's crazy, but somehow running most of the run in the dark helps to make it feel like I'm not really running it. Like, if I can't see too far and the world is clearly not functioning, none of this is happening and I don't have to register that I'm actually in motion. All the benefits of training and preparing for the 40 miler without the pesky COMPREHENSION that it's happening. As I said: crazy.

(More pragmatically, the dark-dark of the morning allows a person - if she finds it necessary - to make a shorter detour from the main road in order to, errrr, attend to matters of a, let's say, biological nature. But mostly it's that first hing....)

By the time I stop at the car (mile 14) to swap water bottles, grab a protein bar, and swig half a bottle of nuun, I know that I am cold and not entirely thrilled with my lot in life. But I also know that I am going to complete the 28 miles. The steepest of the hills are behind me. There are two open-for-business convenience stores I will pass on the next leg and I have $2 in change in a Ziploc bag in my pocket. If I have to stop and buy a hot cup of tea, I can.

More than that, this 28 mile run is psychologically the most important piece of my training plan. If I did anything less, I would feel I needed to "make up" the miles on another weekend. And I SO don't want to have to edit a scheduled 20 or 24 miler in my future into a 28 miler. No way. No how. Not happening. PLUS... with 28 done on Saturday I was set up for a DELICIOUS rest day on Sunday. Something I haven't had since, like, November.

Had to do it.

I ran by temperature sign shortly after the break and all of that "this bad boy is MINE" attitude almost went down the toilet. The wind was blowing slightly and I could feel a decent chill going through my thick fleece sweatshirt + 3 other shirts. The temperature? 0 degrees. That would be ZERO DEGREES YEAR-OF-OUR-LORD FAHRENHEIT! I have no idea what the windchill must have made it but it was enough to get me down again. "Who DOES this? What is the point? No one would suggest I was a wuss if I bailed. Most people would think me an idiot if I DIDN'T bail...."

But, on I went. The flatter terrain helped. And the fellas and ladies out on their snowmobiles and big ass trucks kind of helped, too. I gave them each a thickly gloved wave of thanks as they passed me. I don't know what gesture, if any, they offered my way, but I like to imagine they found me to be more of an amusement than a annoyance.

One other tricky bit on this section of the run was the shoulders of the road. We had a pretty decent storm on Wednesday and though the roads were clear, in this area the shoulders were still snow covered and mushy. All the fishing derby traffic had me skippideedoodah-ing over the white line and onto the not-so-friendly shoulder a lot. No harm was done but I had a few "oh sh*t" moments where I could feel my footing was not terribly secure.

Wow. I DO go on, don't I?

Let's sum this up:

I finished the run.
I averaged about 10 minute miles.
My legs did not love me immediately after and especially trying to get out of the car after the drive home.
I am not sore at all today. (Angel choir here "AAAAHHHHHHH!")
My husband and kids were doing the dump run and grocery shopping trip when I returned so I had some time to shower and refuel before going back on Mom duty. (Props to Scott and additional angel choir here: "ALLELUIA!")

And things I know now for sure:

I know for sure I can do 40 miles.
I know for sure I canNOT do 40 miles solo!
I know for sure that winter had better ease up soon or I am going to write a strongly worded letter to my congresswoman. I mean it, winter. This is abusive and it will not be tolerated.
I know for sure that saving music for the final 7 miles was very good idea. (Who can NOT grin when it's 0 degrees and "This Girl is on Fire" comes on? And who can NOT dance and sing along to "You Can't Stop the Beat" when it comes on at mile 27?)
I know for sure that no one wants to read this much about four hours and forty-four minutes of anyone else's life. (But isn't kinda cool that it took me 4:44? Very 40-ward, I think!)

Thanks for reading. And thanks again for your kind support in this endeavor.

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