I Took Time Out

Where do I begin? Where did I leave off? So much to say there’s too much to say. Let’s try nutshells, shall we?

Running: January saw 24.25 miles. I’m okay with that number because I was insane at the end of 2016, running practically every single freaking day. January was my rest month. February was a little better: 40.6 miles, thanks to the St. Pat’s nemesis I always blather about. March kicked off with 13.7 miles in the first week. I have skipped a few runs to…wait for it…to weight lift with a certified bodybuilder trainer. I figure if I’m going to punch someone I need to be strong enough to knock them out! Just kidding. I called truce with the nemesis, by the way. I have yet to walk a single step…and, and. And! I find myself with a new PR: 1 hr 4 seconds. The cool thing is, I didn’t “race” this run. I spent the first four miles cruising, just looking for my friend. Once I found him and decided he wasn’t staying with me, I took off. It kills me that I spent only two miles of the run trying to race!
Next up: a NEW 10k for April. This one is a head scratcher. The race director emailed the runners and asked us to decide on the course: did we want to run laps (um. no) or go long. I voted long. Of course.

Books: I read 10 books in January, 9 in February & I’ve finished 7 already this month. That’s what I get for reading Truman Capote, Adimchinma Ibe, David Halberstam, Barbara Gowdy, Marianne Leone, and Laura Esquivel’s incredibly short books.

Music: I have already heard Trey Anastasio. On the horizon I have plans to see Natalie Merchant (of course), The Dead (of course), Phish (of course) and Sean Rowe (of course) before the summer is over.
Truth be told, the summer hasn’t even begun so who knows who will be added to the list.

Travel: Maine, California, Alaska, New York. Not necessarily in that order. More on that later.

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Closing In

I am still not confident I will complete this 1000k challenge. Everyday I mentally play with the numbers and wonder for how long I can keep this up. My targeted average is still 2.8 miles a day from now until December 31st. If I can keep that up I will succeed. Notice I said IF i can keep that up. There is the thought fear that I can’t. Last night I ran 3.23 at a ridiculously slow pace. Through the night my body grew progressively achy and by 2am my hips were on fire. Lying there in the predawn hours listening to my hips sing I couldn’t imagine running the same distance later that same day. My body has since stopped bitching but that doesn’t make it easier to picture even two little miles with New Guinea.

But! But. But, I am closing in on my goal. I have epic arguments with myself over methods to the madness. Do I run six every other day in order to give myself rest? Do I need that rest? Or! Do I run three every single day and hope that half the time means half the damage?

Silver lining: thanksgiving on Peaks. I love, love, love running Peaks. Maybe I can put in a solid nine and close the gap a little more? Wouldn’t that be cool?

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Tale of Two Sixes

I can’t call week #2/3 of the training an epic fail when I had two really good runs. It all started with missing the boat to Monhegan. Yes, this island girl missed her boat. That’s what happens when you think 5.5 hours is enough time for a 4 hour trip but you forget it’s a Saturday, it’s a holiday weekend and, and. And! One word: Wiscassett. Or, to be more precise, not Wiscassett. More like Red’s. We missed boarding by 20 minutes. And I missed my long run of Week #2.
Bombing up the coast of Maine at breakneck speed is never fun, especially when there is one last boat we could potentially make. I had flashbacks to the woman who careened down to that same wharf three summers ago and ended up injuring three and killing a nine year old boy. We made it without striking anyone down. The point of this story is that we were three hours late getting onto the island and unpacked. I was supposed to run six miles that same day but I was stressed, exhausted and completely out of time. There was no way I would get in even the smallest of runs.

Week #3 started a day early with an early Sunday run. How can I explain this to anyone who hasn’t been there before? I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was interested in seeing if I could run a trail to the end. I ended up running two trails from my childhood so I got the best of everything: dirt roads, pine needle deep forest, salt air seaside cliffs, mossy rock and root trails and of course, the silent graveyard. No run is complete with a small stop to see dad.
This was the route in its entirety: Lobster to Wyeth, passing a gaggle of bird watchers. Casey’s to the Trailing Yew, the smell of fresh donuts in the air. Main road to both beaches, super high tides. Wharf hill to the school. I could hear a lecture as I passed the open windows. NEW: behind the school to the Ice Pond. Down the boardwalk to Pratt’s. Back out to Dead Man’s Cove and out to Black Head (yes, I made it all the way).¬† Up to the lighthouse and halfway to White Head (turned around because of three unleashed dogs). Detour to dad. Left a daisy. Horn’s Hill to the new turnaround. Music going up HH? Straight To Hell by the Clash. How perfect. Halfway to Burnt Head (stopped because I was nearly at mile 5). Down to Mostel’s turnaround and back up past the Yew. Now bacon instead of donuts. A nod to the still-closed brewery and home. 6.12 total.
Two days later I did the exact same route only going a little further on White Head and Burnt Head trails. Camp Kawanhee was in the ball field. Weird to run by their whispering tents and think of all that hormonal boy stuff that must be going on inside. A small smile and a great run: 6.36 total. Good to be home.

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Rock the Rock

My fellow islanders call home “the rock.” They can do that because they really live on a ginormous rock. I call this rock home-home even though I don’t live there and with any luck in a little over 24 hours I will be there. Home-home on the rock.

I have two runs planned for 04852. Two 6 milers back to back. I’m hoping the trail running books I’ve read will come in handy when I attempt to leave the dirt road and find my way through Cathedral Woods up to White Head. Or Lobster Cove by way of Burnt Head. Or somewhere via something. Up until now, I’ve only trusted myself to the end of every possible road. Dead Man’s Cove, the Ice Pond, Lighthouse Hill, Wharf Hill, the turn-around, Horns Hill, & Wyeth’s. Don’t get me wrong. I love every one of those dead ends. The problem lies in the fact I’ll have stiff competition in the way of tourists, birders, kids, trucks, artists, and dogs (can’t forget the dogs).

So, tomorrow around dusk I’ll don the gregory, power up the spy and traverse rock and root to get where I’m going. I’m ready to rock the rock.

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Epic Silence

In the world of runners there are those who like to talk. Mileage braggarts, distance loggers, PRs set and reset, hardware won, toenails lost. In the world of bloggers there are those who are always talking…about anything and everything. Between the two groups you would think I, being in both worlds, would never shut up.
Not so.
This is for Bea, because she asked (and because she won’t run the Jingle Jam with me if I don’t).
After the unusual knee pain and the three weeks off from the run everything went downhill. I was burnt out from the training. Burnt out from the stress/anticipation of seeing family in such a heartbreak place. Burnt out from trying to recapture the rest of my life. The run wasn’t fun because I was too preoccupied with 26.2 miles to come. By the time the marathon was (finally, finally) a reality and I was listening to Kid Rock and readjusting my bib and retying my shoes I was more than done with it. That’s a bad place for me to be. Even watching Meb run fly past me wasn’t inspiring. Then the worst. The wind kicked up and I turned cold. Literally and metaphorically.
Standing in the corral, waiting for the countdown was a study in ignorance in that I tried to ignore the girls in tutus and eyeliner and blinking things take selfie after selfie after selfie. Blink. Blink. I tried to ignore the distorted techno music blaring over the loud speakers. I tried to ignore the ginormous Chewbacca belching¬† and hiccuping his way through a Coors. Yes, he even crushed it on his forehead. Most of all I tried to ignore the reports of gusts of driving rain further up the course. Then this: reports of mara mile markers being blown away – to the point of concern. Over the loudspeaker someone announced a suggestion: if you are running the full and you are new to Las Vegas you should switch to the half in order to avoid getting lost. Errr…umm…what? Lost? A guy next to me shrugged and said they announced the same thing right before Kid Rock got on the stage. Huh. Guess I wasn’t paying attention.
From the very beginning I knew this was not my run. Way too congested. Never mind the women chat chat chatting away while walking five across at the first mile. Wind in my face the entire way. Rain for the first six miles. Of course it was raining. It always rains during events that mean something to me. I couldn’t stop blowing my nose the entire way. My nose was running way more than my legs. Then came The Pain at mile 20. I was reduced to a walk/ run routine by mile 23.

This will sound like a giant whine, but I’ll say it again. This wasn’t my run. True, I accomplished what I set out to do. I remembered Duane with every step (especially his voice calling me a dumb azz for doing this in the first place). In the end my hips betrayed me but it’s my heart who let me down first.

For days after I saw people wearing their tech shirts, their finisher medals and even their timing chips still attached to their shoes. All announcing their accomplishment. To look at me, you would never know I was one of them. Dressed all in black, my silence was epic.

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Best Laid Plans

My last blathering was about Chicago and all the planning the Kisa and I were doing in preparation. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans?

Let me just talk about the 5k and get that out of the way. I have this runner friend who is constantly dissing his race times with disasters: I didn’t sleep the night before; I got lost on the course; I didn’t train AT ALL; my ankle has been giving me trouble…And yet, he would PR this particularly “terrible” race. Each and every time. I, my friends, am going to sound like that friend…minus the PR.

The night before we were to fly to Chicago; the night before the Terrapin 5k remember, I came down with a stomach bug. My first ever. I’ve had food poisoning and I’ve had the flu but I’ve never, ever, ever had this kind of gut-twisting, can’t-decide-if-I-should-kneel-or-sit (cuz I gotta do both at the same time) kind of stomach vileness. And. And! And, at the the same time as my period. I’ll be blunt. It was not pretty. I spent the entire night either in the bathroom or thinking about being in the bathroom; all the while praying this thing would clear up by morning…or at least in time to board the plane. No such luck. I’m a nervous flier but the flight down was a white-knuckler in more ways than one. Then the hour long taxi ride to the hotel was a study in bowel control. Lots of deep breathing and humming to myself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over the ridiculousness of it all.
Then it was time to run the Terrapin 5k. So there I was – I hadn’t slept. I hadn’t eaten in 36 hours. I wasn’t hydrated. I couldn’t keep anything in. My period was raging. To top it off, earlier in the week I had received an email from race officials stating there would be no race-day bib pickup. You would think it would be a no-brainer to give up this run, especially since it didn’t look I’d have a bib number to run with anyway. I think, all things considered, I could have logged a DNS just this once.

But. But! But, I have never DNF let alone DNS. Now was certainly not the time. Never mind that I was literally sick and tired and not just saying that. When I found out I could pick up my bib I didn’t want to pass up this run. I just couldn’t. Illness be damned.

So I ran. In truth I forgot about being sick. I forgot about being tired. I forgot about being in a corral (I was actually pleased to be in the way back in case I had an incident). But, the more I ran the better I felt. Soon I was cruising along the waterfront and watching the boats bob. I was enjoying the sun sparkling on the water. With runners behind me and ahead I was in my element. I love being in a pack. Soon I felt strong enough to pick out runners to quietly slide by. Each passing mile felt better and better. I finished in just under 30 minutes (without incident) with a smile on my face.

And the rest of Chicago? I’ll say this. It took me another two days to find an appetite but that didn’t slow me down. That’s a story for another time.

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Save Your Spot

“We noticed that you signed up for the Terrapin with a race pace that will allow you to be placed in a Preferred Corral. Nice!”

This was the email I got for the Terrapin 5k in Chicago. Later that same day I sent them the results from the Worcester 6k in the hopes of getting a timed corral, if only to not have to weave my way in and around slower runners from the back. Then came along another reason – the time of the race. I could have sworn start time was 6pm. Now I see it’s 6:30pm. That gives me less than 90 minutes to run the race, get something to eat (I’m always ravenous), get back to the hotel, shower, change, and make my way over to the House of Blues for Moe (doors – 8pm). Not impossible but less than ideal, for sure. Lucky for kisa, I don’t primp. Much.

Speaking of kisa, the Knight and moi spent some time saving other Chicago spots as well. Reminiscent of a 3rd grade school trip I took to Boston we mapped out the entire itinerary (minus my mother’s notes on what I would be wearing each day). This became an exercise in where to eat around the city. Kisa, armed with the city map, would tell me what friend-suggested restaurants were local to the activity we had planned and I would dutifully note them in a three-ringed binder. The thought process is we won’t be stuck hungry and not knowing what’s in the area, resort to eating at the first bad place we find. Yes, I know we could Yelp our way through meals but that’s really not my thing. I want friend-endorsed options not determined by strangers on my phone. I won’t give in to the hype of a celebrity restaurant (unless it’s Rick Bayless).

I can’t believe Chicago is less than a week away. Last night as we listened to the Dead in San Francisco I couldn’t help but think about all those happy people, just letting the music take them on a trip. And would my journey take me there as well? If so, save me a spot.

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