What started as a way to reengage a PAX that hadn’t made it out in a while, turned into a whole lot of running.
The weather was anywhere from 85-90 degrees to as low as 30. We trained from the middle of July until the run on November 7. A few of us did “conditioning” runs starting in May, just to get a minimum level of running we felt the training would require.
The photo above is missing a few that had already left, or might have been still on the course. Not to mention a few that had to drop out along the way due to medical or relocation. But that photo brings out all the feel goods. It reminds me to surround yourself with great people, and great things will happen. Prior to this endeavor I had never completed a 5K without walking. On this day, I ran 13.1 miles without a single stride at walking pace. That is due to the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement of these men surrounding me.
Our training was typically 3 days a week, with day one being a short, easy run. Day two was tempo, hill, or interval style runs. Day 3 was long distance runs. We tried to move around, so the scenery was constantly changing.
The night before the run, I did all the right things. Laid out the clothes, filled a water bottle, set out the snacks, all the fun stuff.
The day of the run started early. Like why in the hell couldn’t I stay asleep? I woke up multiple times that night. We had planned to meet at the typical Posh meeting location. We were going to stretch and warmup there, and then head over to the start/finish line. Parking was pretty full already, but a few of us made it there, and waited until about 0715. Then we proceeded to the starting line.
There we were greeted by a couple of HIMs. Focker and Holy Roller made it out to support us as we started the race. We stood around together stretching, while “watching” Backflop on the app. Backflop, DeVitto, and Honey Do (later to learn Frosty) were already on the course. They were out to conquer a full marathon.
We made our way over to get in line for the actual start of the run. Here is where it gets difficult. There were pacers there. They held a little sign that allowed you to put yourself in a group of similar paced runners. We (the slower guys) had to say goodbye to Big Bird, Virginia Slims, and Dauber. Air Raid tried to hang back with the slow guys, but we kicked him out. He is too darn fast for our pace. Slowly the group started to inch out, and we were off. Starting the watch, and the RaceJoy app.
I slid my phone in my fancy fanny pack, and all was good. Except the zipper broke. But that was a far cry from having to put my phone in a small pocket on my tights, and it pulling my pants down, right Jolly?
I looked up after sliding my phone in, trying to see where my group was, and Gisele was out in front by about 20 feet. He was looking over his shoulder trying to find us too, I think. But the pack was still too tight to maneuver my way up to run along side him. Unfortunately that was the last I saw of Gisele until about mile 11. Well, except at the turn around. I have no clue where Meter Maid went. But he was in front of me too.
When we all settled in, I was side by side with my normal running partner, Cratchit. We trained at similar pace the entire time. I didn’t listen to my watch for the first few miles. I just let the the pace be, what the pace was.
The first “Holy Crap” moment. On our training runs we had ran on the trails that included a switch back to make the hill gradual, but long. For the race, we went straight up a mountain.
It is hard to grasp the elevation of this hill. By the numbers, it is 200 feet of elevation over about a 1/4 mile. On this hill we interacted with a couple of guys that I will simply refer to as The Music Man. His music was playing and I teased that I would just run along side him to be able to listen to his music. We ran past him on our way to the top.
Nestled into the trees and a gradual downhill back toward the trestle bridge. This was possibly the first time going down the hill in the daylight. There was nothing real exciting, although the path is slightly smaller in areas, which made it hard to pace slower runners. At this point we had 10K participants returning up the hill. This is where we saw Harry Caray. I’m pretty sure
Once you enter Pope Lick Park it is perfectly flat for a while. A perfect recovery from the hills. Cratchit and I had settle into a decent pace, conquered the big hill, and now it was time to just log some miles. I don’t really even remember the mummblechatter. I’m sure it was epic. It is about this point that I remember a few consistent runners that I either followed pace, or were constantly passing or being passed by them. The Music Man ran past us here I think.
This was starting into new terrain for me. When we had done the training runs, we would circle The Egg Lawn first, so we always had “extra” distance from the actual starting line. Not to mention the most we did in training was 12 miles. Here we ran along Floyd’s Fork for a while, and I can remember Cratchit and I talking about the perfect scenery, the perfect weather, and how bad it could have been. This is also when I first remember listening to my watch for pace times. We had just completed mile 4 with a pace of 8:51, and subsequently finished mile 5 at a 8:44 pace. Training runs we averaged a 9:30-9:45 pace. It was a comfortable run pace. I told Cratchit we were either going to pay for the fast pace later, or we were totally going to crush our previous times. This is also when a fellow runner burped, and basically apologized for this. We tried to explain that it wasn’t necessary, but I feel like she took offense that we even acknowledged that it happened.
During mile 6 my mind was blown. The lead marathoner was on his way back. Granted he had an hour head start, but he had ran 20ish miles in approximately an hour and forty minutes. I’m not sure the exact timing. But I had trouble wrapping my head around the pace he was setting. It was also here that the half marathon turn around approached. I got to see some of the faster guys, and gauge how far back we were to their pace. As we hit the turn around Cratchit made some comment about is was just as simple as getting back to where we started. And homeward bound we started.
The sun was up, the temperature was climbing. Gear started to get hot. I don’t regret wearing long sleeves, but I had to pull them up at this point. Most everyone ran with ear buds in. There were a handful of runner that just had music playing on their phone, but most used barely noticeable ear buds. After we noticed the pace on miles 4 and 5, we followed a guy for a couple miles. I think we used him to keep us in check basically. But then it was time to mosey past him. I thanked him for letting us follow him, and he didn’t flinch. Clearly his concentration was on running, and not talking. Which was the opposite of what I was trying to do.
This was probably the most boring part. We had ran this section before. Physically the the distance was fine, but mentally it is starting to creep in that there is still 5 miles to go. Then, BOOM. We enter Pope Lick Park again, and my M and 2.0’s have made it out to cheer me on. That little endorphin rush was perfect timing. I felt like I could pick up the pace again. The kids ran along side for moment, and in a flash, we were leaving the park again.
SECOND BOOM. More PAX made it out to encourage us. WILDflower and Lambeau. Now I’m just pumped. While the photo doesn’t do it justice, I was doing a little Frank the Tank impression here.
This rush also is what caused me problems. The return trip up that hill is looming.
The hill. I knew it was coming. I knew it would be a grind. But I’m riding the high of seeing family and friends. This is also where I become a bad running buddy. I left Cratchit. We were about 85 minutes into the run. I glanced at the watch, I had just over under 4 miles left, and about 35 minutes to accomplish it. I did my best. I put my head down, and I ran that hill. Leaving Cratchit. I thought if I could get to the top, and not splash Merlot at the top, I had an chance at the 2 hour mark. I made the final turn on the hill and I hollered back for Cratchit. During training runs, this is where I would holler back for Jolly Rancher. I never asked if he could hear me, but I like to think that me calling his name gave him a little extra push up that hill. I heard Cratchit respond. He was still back there, pushing along too. Coming out of the woods there was a race organizer riding a bike. I think he was just riding the course to ensure there weren’t injuries, or stranded runners. I asked if he was offering rides. He asked if I was OK. He clearly didn’t get the joke. I followed that up with that I was simply showing the hill who the boss was. This is also where I found Meter Maid. The hill was doing it’s best to beat him down. I hope seeing a friend gave him the encouragement he needed to push a little further.
The Summit. I had won. The hill didn’t beat me. Now, the second HOLY CRAP moment. I have to go down that mountain of a hill from mile 2. The mountain looked daunting going up. But coming down, one missed step and it was Heartbreak Hill. I decided to let gravity do the work. I simply threw my legs out as far as I could, and tried to hold on for the ride. Meter Maid gave a shout out from behind me. At this moment I don’t know what it was, but it again gave me a little push to thinking I could complete the run in under 2 hours. Somewhere along Mile 11, I came upon Gisele. He said he was struggling with cramping. Then I spotted The Music Man too. He was at a dead stop, stretching. This is the proverbial wall people talk about I think. I was there too.
My legs are heavy. Feels like coupons are strapped to my shoes. My hip flexors are tight. My stride is reduced to what feels like baby steps. But at this point, the eye is on the prize. Keep moving. Just another 10 minutes or so. You can do anything for a few minutes, right? BOOM. PAX spotting. Cochran is at the bridge running along side, giving encouragement like candy. There is also a little girl here. She is about 3 or 4 years old. She was bouncing, she was happy. She was likely there to cheer on her mom, as she was with whom I presume was her dad. I told her I needed her energy for just a few minutes. I asked for her to give me that energy. A fist bump ensued, and I was sprinting over the bridge, passing the runner who moments ago ran past me.
The Egg Lawn. As I made the turn for finish line, there was a lady who had ran up along side me. She looked over at me, and simply said “Let’s Go.” It was the equivalent to Le Pew leading the charge yelling “Giddy Up.” I ran as hard as I could, for as long as I could. Passing my family who was cheering me along. Within steps of the finish line, I had to let “Let’s Go” girl, go.
I finished. I crossed the finish line. Pelican was there too. Never once taking a walking step. Finish time was 2 hours 3 minutes and 45 seconds. (I guess I should be able to remember that… 2, 3, 4, 5.) It was a great feeling.
THE REST OF THE STORY:
Everyone was congregated at the finish line. It almost made it hard. You kind of felt obligate to stop there. I should have walked further away. I should have given a few moments just to cool down. But there were others coming in right behind me. We congratulated each other on the accomplishment.
The goal in the beginning was to run the entire course. During the training I felt that I could accomplish that goal easily. I debated on changing the goal to be finishing in under 2 hours. But I felt like that was leaving me with too much room for disappointment. I hadn’t trained at a pace capable of achieving that goal. But while on the course, we ran at a pace that gave me a shot at it. I’m glad I tried it, even though I wasn’t able to achieve that timing goal, I did accomplish the main goal I set.
We circled up for a photo or two. Beers were consumed. Pie was eaten. It was great. This has opened the door for me, and others I think. We are already in talks about who is interested in doing it again, and when.