Saturday morning, you would’ve thought that it was 70 degrees and sunny. The amount of people that were out running at Stony Creek was probably a record for 2014, and yet, it was cloudy, windy, and cold. When I pulled into the parking lot at 7:45am (just barely light out), I asked myself, “Why do I do this?” I was dreading the first 6 mile loop, which I had to run on my own. Thankfully, I had Stephanie joining me for the second loop, and Leigh Ann, Sarah, and Lori joining in for the last 3-4 miles of my 15 mile run…(Oh, how I love marathon training! – insert sarcasm :/).
So, I started out a bit slow. That was actually my goal. I have a very bad habit of running too fast when I’m solo, and then I get completely out of breathe and worn out. I’m pretty sure it’s my mind’s way of saying, “Let’s get this over with! The faster you go, the sooner it’s over!” Not a good way to start a 15 mile run. “Slow and steady” was the name of this mission…
Right from the start, I had my eyes set on a man running up ahead of me. He was a ways off, and I was pretty sure that he was running right around the pace I wanted to keep. So, I hung back for a long time, but I was starting to get antsy. Right around the 2 mile mark, I made my move and started to pass him. As I was running by, I asked if he was running a 10 minute pace (which is what I had told myself I was supposed to be running…) and he said he was. Then I asked if he was training for something. He said he was running Boston next month. BOSTON!! An injury had left him running much slower than he planned, but he would be running in his first Boston marathon in April. Such an amazing accomplishment!
From there, I don’t know how it really happened, but I had myself a running buddy for the rest of my 6 mile loop. I have to admit that I didn’t do much talking, but the time sure did pass quickly as this man that I had never met opened up to me. He began telling me about some of the marathons that he had run (some 30+ !!) and then he told me about his 50K ultra where his running buddy had a complete meltdown during the race and spilled her deepest darkest secrets to him. We both agreed that running has the ability to strip you of all logic and reasoning and allow you to completely let your guard down. Once you hit a certain distance it’s kind of like being drunk. The filter is removed. Your feelings just spill out and those around you are left with the messy task of trying to put you back together. It can get pretty ugly.
And then, the conversation took a turn in a new direction. Once again, I’m not sure how it happened, but the next thing I know, my new friend is telling me all about his time served in the Vietnam War. Stories that take years to share were being spilled on the running path before us. This man had been through some extremely rough things in his past, and I was honored to be his listening ear. One of the last things that was said as we neared the parking lot was that he wished his generation had learned what my generation has, and that is that you can be against the war without being against the warrior. Amen to that.
And just like that, I was already done with my first 6 miles! I hadn’t even thought about the actual act of running for the last 4 miles. AMAZING! As I saw Stephanie pull into the drive, I said good bye to my 4 mile running buddy and wished him well.
The first few miles with Steph went by quickly. We got caught up on some Sparkle.Pounce. business talk, chatted a bit about the Grand Island Trail Marathon this summer (woot! woot!), and overall, just did what girls do best 🙂 TALKED. We saw a lot of familiar faces out there, which is always so much fun! Then, we met up with our running pal, Martha. She kept us company for another 3 miles and had some pretty funny stories to tell. One was about her 100 mile ultra attempt. She was at mile 67 after running ALL night, when a very fresh and spunky man ran by her and said, “Pick it up!” She told us how her mind had removed all filters and she very badly wanted to curse the man and tell him to go to hell. Luckily (and quite surprisingly, I might add!), she was able to hold back and bite her tongue.
And just like that, I was done with 12 miles! As we neared the parking lot, Leigh Ann, Lori, and Sarah met up with us for the last 3 miles, a short out and back. With 3 more girls to add to the conversation, the time once again flew by. Many of the faces we passed on the path were people that had been out all morning, and it was fun to wave “hello” for the second or third time. And of course, when we came up to Martha who was now walking up the hill that we were running down, I had to yell out, “Pick it up, Martha!” to which she promptly responded, “Go to hell!”
We jogged back to the parking lot until my Nike Plus app told me that I had run 15 miles. It took me 2 hours and 46 minutes, and it was awesome. Then we headed out to enjoy breakfast 🙂
It’s funny, a friend at work on Friday asked me how long it was going to take me to run 15 miles. I had to think about it, but guessed it would be close to 3 hours. She just didn’t understand how I could handle spending that much of my time running. But honestly, it is what I look forward to the most almost every weekend. It’s my therapy. It’s my time for me. And even though my body hurts a little when I’m done, my mind and my spirit feel refreshed and alive. There is nothing better than that!