On Monday, 11/10/2014, I set out from home at about 8:30. I had on my Altra Torin shoes, my Camelbak “Marathoner,” a birthday present from the family, several protein bars and Gu packs, my MP3 player, loaded up with part III of SWANSONG by Robert McCammon, and my game face. One of the things that has characterized my running is the desire to get past the “I wonder if I can” stage of preparing for a race. My first marathon was supposed to have been in March – The Newport News One City Marathon, which I’m looking forward too. Still, that’s a winter away, and winter is the worst running time for me. Right now I’m coming off hundreds of miles of training over sprint, summer and fall, and I just could not wait for March.
I had a plan (If you’ve read my posts about running long distances on my own before, you know that was futile). I had a course set that should have brought me home just over 27 miles. It was a reasonably simple map, and I carried the instructions with me, but there was a point – no road signs – where it just says, left, right. left right, and then turn right. There were, of course, more options in that stretch than there should have been, and on that crucial final turn, I went…left. Somehow. I was supposed to run in to Elizabeth City, NC, and then loop back around toward home on familiar roads. Instead – when I finally poked my head back out onto Highway 17 about halfway into the run (a little over, maybe 14 miles) I was almost in HERTFORD, NC – the exact opposite direction from Elizabeth City.
By this point I had already nearly been blown off the road by a truck, chased by two packs of not-exactly friendly dogs, and gotten directions from people in two very “rural” yards. One couple informed me I was way off track, but still better off than they were. Their car woul dnot start, they were stranded, and they could not RUN all the way to the highway…made me smile.
So, anyway, there I was. What I did was start calculating in my head. I turned and ran back toward home, and just before hitting 16 miles, I turned left again, crossed back over the highway, and took the route I normally take on my 12 mile track (the one I got lost on LAST time).
I figured it like this. No way I was not running the full 26.2 after all the preparation, and after telling everyone I was going to. I planned to run half of what was left, turn around, and run back to that same point on the highway, then make it the last couple of miles to home and be well over my 26.2. Except, what happened was that before I had quite hit that halfway point, I hit the final turn on my 12 mile course…and I took it rather than getting lost (lol) So… on I traveled. More dogs … a caterpillar … By this point I was at about 20 miles and speed was no longer an option, but I was still moving. I stopped for a moment and called home at about 22 miles. Trish was kind enough to drive out and bring me a bottle of Gatorade at mile 23. I also gave her my camelback at that point, which helped.
The Gatorade was like magic. I’d had a lot of water, and I still had water left, but it was no longer really rejuvenating me at all. Of course, when I gave her the Camelbak, I forgot that my phone was in it – so I was then cut off, and had sent my “Mapmyrun.com” app home. I kept going. I had the Garmin watch, and it was going strong. When I hit the turn to home, I started thinking. I was going to be short. Not a lot, but it was going to be – like – 25.78 … no good. In the hardest running decision of my life, I turned AWAY from home and ran anouther 3/4 of a mile. That was the defining moment. After that I swung toward home, and I still felt okay…end in sight.
I walked / ran / stumbled the last mile … managed to remain upright through a shower … and plopped into my chair. Then I got UP and drank a root beer, and a pepsi, ate an “Outshine” fruit bar, and got back IN to the chair. Trish had gone to get Katie from school at this point. Then I got UP again, ate a baloney sandwich and took the dog for a short walk. The next time I got into the chair, I stayed until dinner…
So now I know. I can go the distance, and complete it. It feels good to be part of the 26.2 club…and today – after one day off – I’ll head out for my recovery run smiling. 25 miles from now, I will post again… that is when I will hit 1000 for the year, and I think I’ll take a look back at it for highlights. Feelin’ kind of #badass today.
I did this (without planning to) on the USMC birthday. To all my marine buddies, active and retired… Ooo freakin’ rah.