sadistic torture training program I’m using to ramp up to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in two months has slowly been adding on the distance as I go along. It has me doing a couple of maintenance runs during the week, 30 minute jaunts that alternate two minutes of running with one minute of walking. Easy enough. But on the weekends, it brings out the big guns, nudging me up to quarter-mile intervals over longer distances. It had me at three miles for a while, but then came six, then nine, and yesterday, eleven.
Six I managed pretty well. I’d done a 10K before, so I knew what to expect. The nine got cut short by, well, poor timing on my part, but I still did a solid eight, without skipping any intervals. The plan took me back down to three miles last weekend — it takes you up and then eases you back so you’re not killing yourself before the actual event — but I knew that eleven-miler was waiting for me. I had more time on my hands Sunday morning than Saturday, so I planned that for the big day. Plus the calories I’d burn would come in handy at the Ale House later.
Sunday dawned cloudy and breezy, thankfully; my eight-mile run had gone from 76 to 85 and the air was like syrup. Headphones on, podcast started, run tracker going, and off I went. Now I wasn’t without a plan. The worst thing would be getting near home and realizing I still needed another two or three miles. So I’d mapped it out the day before. Down this street, down another, around this neighborhood, then out and back. Give or take a few yards, I should have been good to go.
I honestly don’t think I could have done this if it wasn’t for portable electronics. Without Tom Vasel and Linda Holmes distracting me, I’d be watching the minutes and miles crawl by and probably either give up or go crazy. With the headphones on though, the only reminder was the occasional ping of the run tracker telling me to run or walk. And that eventually just became habit. Oh I’m running now. Oh I’m walking now. Oh I’m running again. I was definitely feeling the effort, but it wasn’t killing me.
And then, around the six-mile mark, I hit the turnpike. There’s this part of the road I usually run/walk on that vaults up over the Florida Turnpike. And because the universe hates me, I always seem to hit this hill on a run interval. Which I did yesterday. Both out and back, It wasn’t so bad going out, but on the way back, oh boy was I feeling it. The good news was it was pretty much either downhill or flat from there on out, and I had a Publix with a water fountain not too far ahead that would give me the last little boost for home.
And then Thor decided to mock me. “Cloudy and breezy” turned into “dark and threatening rain.” Which then turned into “dark and actually raining.” Which, as I got close to home, became “dark and raining and yes that’s thunder and I bet you’re regretting this right now.” The good news was I was almost home, but the bad news was I had no idea what my distance was. My fingers were now too wet to make the swipe on my smartphone work properly, so I didn’t know if I was almost done or way short. But the rain was getting more steady, and my apartment was right there, so I chose discretion over valor.
Turns out I was at 10.89 miles. And seeing as I’d walked out to the main road before I actually started tracking, that was close enough to eleven for me. The pace wasn’t the best, thanks to a combination of traffic, weather and wardrobe (my shoes would just not stay tied), but it was under the 16:00 sweep time, and for my first time at that long a distance, I’ll certainly take it.
Now today, my quads are on fire and I have three toenails that have turned black and the clothes I was wearing are still wet. But I’m also two miles away from doing a half marathon when three years ago a half marathon would have been pausing halfway through The Two Towers to order some pizza. That’s worth some aches and pains and dampness.