A Running Sweet Sixteen

I’m no college basketball fan.  I have no brackets, I don’t know who’s playing and, in fact, I couldn’t imagine a worse sport to watch.  But, this weekend called for 16 miles on my training plan.  That number loomed over my week as I struggled to figure out how I could fit in the long run with Easter and Phil’s work schedule.  Sunday was out (especially when I noticed the chance of rain on the weather report), so I started to piece together plans for Saturday morning.  My mom volunteered to take the kids for the morning since Phil would be at work.  Thank goodness she’s an early riser-otherwise dropping kiddos off at 7:15am would be a little rough.

Next up was planning a route.  I live near Lakeshore Boulevard, and for those of you non-Clevelanders, that’s a straight length of road that is well-lit, sidewalk-lined and easy to run on.  I figured my easiest plan would be an out and back, but 8 miles each way sounded more and more boring the closer I got to it.  I’m not good at boring.  I need some novelty to keep my mind from focusing too much on the numbers, especially when those numbers are starting to get big.  Here’s where having some running friends helps.  My co-worker Josh is training for the Cleveland half and had 6 miles on his plan.  I proposed a meet up that would consist of me running to his house (8.5 miles away) and him running back for 3 or 4 miles with me.  Josh’s house would be a chance for me to re-fill my water bottle and take in some fuel.  Another friend and co-worker, Matt, would join us for a portion of the run as well.  Suddenly, 16 miles didn’t seem as boring.

I packed up my bag Saturday morning with 3 Gu packets, charged my Garmin, loaded my Ipod with some new music (Mumford & Sons!) and headed out after dropping off the kids.  The first 8.5 miles of this run were beautiful.  The sun started to shine, the wind was non-existent and the temperature was perfect.  I got to Josh’s house right on time, filled my water bottle, did an emergency toe nail trimming (true friends do not judge you for such things) and we left to head over to Matt’s.  We picked up Matt, ran about a mile to Sim’s Park in Euclid and stopped to take in the view of the calm lake.  Calm lake = no wind, thank goodness.

Peaceful Lake Erie
Peaceful Lake Erie

Matt did an amazing job of pushing himself to run the entire time and Josh and I congratulated him before heading away from the park to finish the last of Josh’s 6.  This is where the run got challenging for me.  At one point, I dropped my water bottle and had a hard time bending down to pick it up.  My legs started to feel like lead and I could feel the salt crystals that had formed on my skin from 2.5 hours of sweating.  We wrapped things up at Josh’s house and my Garmin read a little under 15 miles.  I was happy to be done and was OK with not hitting the exact mark of 16.  Or so I thought.  Josh drove us to Dunkin’ Donuts where I inhaled a bagel and then dropped me back off at my mom’s house.  With a little more fuel in my system, I started to regret not finishing that last mile.  I knew it would only take me 10 minutes or so and a quick loop thru my mom’s neighborhood, so I did it.  I got back out the door and ran that last mile.  Some might say that I’m a little nutty for not being able to let it go, but that’s just me.  I couldn’t leave that mile undone.  I believe that my tenacity is what will get me across the finish line of this marathon, so I might as well practice using it as often as I can.