Or as it turns out, slightly over the distance. But we’ll get to that in a moment. It’s been a heck of a week of training, folks!
For starters, while we’ve already run half of the marathon distance, this week marks the end of the first half of training! We’re all very excited to get onto page two of our training calendars – it means the marathon is in sight!
Secondly, the weather this week was absolutely bananas, as those of you who are in New England know full well. We managed to ride the thermometer all the way from the high 50’s on Monday to the depths of the 20’s on Saturday. There was also just about every kind of precipitation you can think of, short of a rain of frogs, and as a result I actually ran for the first and last time of this training on a treadmill. Funnily, it was not sub-zero wind chills and sleet that did me in, but rather that 55° day and the buckets of rain that accompanied it. I had already had several slushy runs that filled my sneakers with water and couldn’t bear the idea of wet feet again. Since it was only a 3 mile run that day, I trotted off to the gym. Within 5 minutes of being there, I remembered why I’d been avoiding it so assiduously. The treadmill is hot, bouncy, and worst of all, hideously boring. I watched the miles tick away on the machine, which didn’t help the situation at all. The saddest thing was that the rain pretty much stopped completely not long after I arrived at the gym, meaning I could have just run outside after all. Lesson learned, I suppose.
Tuesday’s run was uneventful, but Thursday’s was a fine example of the need for mental toughness and fortitude when training in the winter. The day started off with light snow, but it wasn’t sticking and had abated by the time I left for my run with Nandi. So far, so good! Nandi had planned what turned out to be a really great and challenging 6 mile route with some decent hills, and despite some residual iciness from the morning’s snow all was going well. As we reached about mile 3, however, a few flakes began to float to the ground. No problem, thought we, we’ve certainly run in worse! And then, as we reached the bottom of a hill, it struck. A sudden, near-complete whiteout. We found ourselves running in a souvenir snowglobe, completely blinded. I suddenly gained appreciation for what the term snow squall truly means. Luckily it ended after about 10 minutes or so, and we finished the rest of the run uneventfully, but there was a definitive air of grueling about the entire experience. I’d like to try the route again sans nutty weather!
All of this, however, distracts from the main event – Saturday. The day we were due to run 14 miles, the farthest I’ve ever run in my life. And for the first time in quite a while, I needed to run it alone. The rest of the team was headed to a coalition run in the morning, but due to other commitments I couldn’t go out before the afternoon. In deference to this I decided to utilize the Minuteman bike path near my house – a straight shot with only occasional intersections to worry about. I plotted what seemed like a fool-proof route and headed on my way.
Since I was running the relatively safe bike path I decided to bring my i-pod – while not a replacement for my teammates it definitely helped prevent boredom and provided some extra energy when needed. I listened to some This American Life and what turned out to be the greatest running soundtrack ever (for me anyway) – the Ettes, Look at Life Again Soon. Here’s my appropriately named theme song for training:
The whole album is super-catchy and sets a good pace for how I run. Check it out!
Now, the bike path slopes up toward Lexington, where I was headed, and is a downhill slope back to Arlington, so I wasn’t too concerned about my time as I chugged along. I was pretty sure I could make it up on the way back. However, as I passed Lexington Center and started looking for the playground that was my indicator to turn around, I started getting a little concerned. My time was egregiously bad. Finally, I hit the highway at 1.5 hours and decided that had to be close enough. After all I wanted to be home before dark!
Well, you can probably guess what happened. The play area, as it turns out, is not as close to the bike path as it seems on the map. Add to that the fact that the last road before the turnaround is NOT marked as Bedford Road, and I overshot. Not by much, but enough that rather than 14, I have now run my greatest distance with 15 miles! So I guess I’m ready for next week. And my time, while not exactly on fire, wasn’t too bad.
I know I’ve been a bit long-winded, but I must also mention that I think I’ve found a really good on-the-run food! I brought some dried cherries on this adventure and they were perfect! Loads of sugar for energy, compact, not at all messy, and soft enough to feel like I’m not going to choke. I ate a few handfuls every 45 minutes or so and felt great!
Finally, today’s my big fundraiser. Wish me luck!