Just Twenty Miles

Yesterday morning, on a sunny and cool day, Angela and I ran together for 20 miles.

I’ve held off writing much about running the past few weeks. Okay, so I’ve held off writing about much of anything the past few weeks (up until this weekend anyway). Well, that was mainly because I wanted to wait until after this morning to write about what we have accomplished so far.

Yesterday morning, on a sunny and cool day, Angela and I ran together for 20 miles. We finished in 4 hours and 45 minutes, which won’t exactly break any records. However, the point is that we finished and we did it together. It is really hard to write just how proud of her I am. Just a few years ago, not being a runner as a kid or in college, she ran her first 5k. Just this past Spring, she ran her the Monument Avenue 10k, another personal record for distance. Now, she has reached what is considered by most to be the longest training used in distance running. That is no small feat and it requires real dedication to achieve. Further, while it may seem counter-intuitive, running slower on those long runs means being out there for just that much longer. Nearly five hours of strenuous physical activity is tough on anyone, and she finished with her usual big smile, as if we’d just been walking around the block.

Because of the way our training was set up, Angela was on the novice team which would have one 20 mile run. My team, which was for somewhat more advanced runners (which I do not claim to be; it was decided for me), ran three 20 mile days, the last coinciding with the novice group. I ran the first one at a relatively slow pace, as it was a first for me. The second, I really wanted to see what I was capable of doing, so I ran faster. I had thought all along that running this last one with Angela might be fun, especially to keep her company. One of the coaches agreed that using the middle 20-miler as the more strenuous test run would be a good idea, so I went with that plan. I have to say, that although the company I had on the first two was great, the one yesterday with Angela was so much fun.

Way to go, Angela. You proved to the running group and everyone we know that you can do it. What’s more, you finished with a smile and then took me to lunch. Who could ask for a better partner to run with and hang out with for the rest of our lives? You’re awesome.

Cross-Crunchy Festival

This weekend is the 3rd Maymont X-Country Festival I’ve ran in; in as many years.

You Are About To Enter Maymont

Click on the Maymont sign above to see my Flickr photo set of the Friday portion of the X-Country Festival.

This weekend is the 3rd Maymont X-Country Festival I’ve ran in; in as many years. The previous two (results on my running page), Angela and I both ran the cross-country 5k. Maymont is an incredible park and it is so much fun to run a race there. However, there always seems to be something wrong each year. The first year, the 5k was divided up by sex/age groupings (which isn’t normal for a 5k, in my experience). Our groups were both on Friday night, with Angela’s starting last at 6:30. Of course, she finished in pitch black darkness, but she did finish. Last year, we ran on Saturday morning but the clock got messed up on the men’s 5k (I don’t think I set a PR by nearly three minutes on that course).

This year, I ran the new 8k course, which was on Friday at 5:30. Of course, I’m usually at work on Friday at 5:30, but I made an exception today. However, I was still running late to the park and was quite literally still getting my number pinned on as the starting gun sounded. This feeling of being rushed coupled with being badly dehydrated (I had been sweating it out on a job site earlier that day) led to a less than optimumly pleasant run in the heat of the setting sun. All the same, as I said, Maymont is a beautiful park and the race was lots of fun. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. There’s a half-marathon as well I’m hoping to try.

Also on the subject of running, today marked the last time I’m running in my current pair of sneakers. They are starting to both look and smell like all of the 400 miles on them, so they are being retired to gardening duty. I have a nice new shiny green & white pair waiting for me in the closet.

Half-Marathon Day(s)

This weekend is the half-marathon point in out training schedule.

This weekend is the half-marathon point in out training schedule. I’ll be running the Battlefield Half-Marathon in Eastern Henrico County. Angela is registered for this race as well, but unfortunately, she has to work all weekend long. So, we are starting the first-annual Angela’s Birthday Half-Marathon, scheduled for Monday at 7:00 am. This will be a 13.1 mile tour of Richmond’s West End (now referred to by some as mid-town Richmond, due to the Western Sprawl that is Henrico and Goochland Counties).

So, in the span of two days, I will now have run a marathon. I’m either a very foolish person with no regard for my legs or a very loving husband, willing to endure pain for my wife. I’m most likely a fair amount of both. At least I’ll have an extra day this weekend to recover from my foolishness.

My race on Sunday morning is a traditional half-marathon, with volunteers manning water stops, signs marking each passing mile, and a timer at the finish line to call out how I’ve done. Angela’s on the other hand, is the two of us running in a series of two-three mile loops centered around my truck parked at a nearby intersection.

Preparing For The Race

Stretching before the race.

Update 2005-9-4: I finished my race in 1:52:39, according to the RRRC website. My own numbers were about the same. That’s an average pace of 8:36 minutes per mile, which is really fast for me. I’m not as proud of the results as that may sound, though, because I really pushed myself harder than I should of, and to what end? I had never run a half-marathon before, so it’s not like I was trying to beat a previous time. There was no way I was going to place in anything (I was barely in the top half, 146 out of 215 runners, and number 6 of 8 in my age/gender group). Basically, rather than use the experience to learn how to run this distance, I learned exactly how not to. I’m going to have to work on pacing myself better if I have any hope to surviving the marathon.

Overheard while running the race at about mile 5-1/2:

Minnesota Guy: Yeah, the people who run with those huge fuel belts with like eight or ten bottles, or even those big heavy bags, they look like compete geeks. It’s like they’re running with a full water stop for the whole race.

J.R. (Girl From Training Team): Yeah.

Yes, Minnesota Guy (who sounds just like Garrick Van Buren), I am a geek. I run with a Camelbak with the exact amount of fluids I’ll need to finish the race. I’m also right behind you. I may not be that fast, but I also know that it is not the 2lb pack I’m carrying that is slowing me down. Especially since I’m sweating enough to loose about that much during the course of the race anyway.

Success! We both ran 13.1 miles today in the First Annual Angela Dyer Birthday Half-Marathon. It was great day to be out running, although since we got a late start, we didn’t finish until 1:00pm, when it was about 85°. I’m really proud of Angela, though, because she stuck it out and ran the entire time.

Half-Way Today

This morning I ran 13.1 miles with the marathon training team. That is, to date, the furthest I have ever run at one time.

This morning I ran 13.1 miles with the marathon training team. That is, to date, the furthest I have ever run at one time. I had previously, on my own, ran about 12 1/2 miles at one time. Nearly there, right? Well, not quite. That was about a year ago, and I ran that far without building up to the distance, without carrying any water, and with no real idea of what I was capable of. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about distance running as well as myself.

First of all, I was being not only harsh on myself for going over two hours that day without water, I was being downright foolish. That level of excretion results in a large amount of water loss. My body definitely felt the pain from dehydration afterwards. Further, jumping from roughly 9 miles to over 12 is a fairly dramatic leap in terms of training distance, and especially when I wasn’t sticking to any real schedule. I suppose it’s something to have accomplished that on my own, but going further without any guidance could have had me causing more harm than good.

Fast forward to today, after I’ve been building up on the average of a mile further each week and I’ve been educated a lot more in some of the schools of thought on distance running. I’ve learned more about the rate that my body needs fluids (on a much more finely tuned level than with my backpacking experiences), I’ve learned the kinds of techniques over the course of training that will condition me to be able to perform over hours of running. I’ve learned a lot more about how to push myself and when to let off.

I believe that each of us has a lot more inside than we realize. Attempting a marathon is my (and Angela’s) experiment in figuring out what I’m capable of. However, it isn’t a matter of taking off one day and forcing myself to do that kind of distance. It is about learning how to get more out of me. That takes time in training and time in learning. In the end, it just takes time. It’s time well spent, though.

Angela tells me it’s time to head off to Chipotle for our post-run burrito (it helps to have goals). Before I go, I just want to tip my hat to everyone I know who has also worked to find their capabilities: Dave in his running, my Dad in hiking Philmont, my Mom in writing a hiking guide, and Dallas Smith in just plain running further than any human should. You guys inspire Angela and myself and you make this seem so easy.

If Not Now, When?

I’ve decided to knock off a few things on my life-to-do-list. Number 1: run 26.2 miles.

This sort of ties in with yesterday evening’s post. I’ve decided to knock off a few things on my life-to-do-list. So, I’ve signed up to run the Richmond Marathon this November. Angela is going to do it as well, so we can encourage one another. I believe this has almost nothing to do about whether my body can handle the running of 26.2 miles (although my left knee scares the shit out of me). It is going to be about committing to doing something that I’ve wanted to do all my life. When I was a kid, I thought I would someday want to run the Boston Marathon. Well, come to find out, they don’t let just any joker like me sign up for that (something about qualifying). So, I’ll be okay just running a marathon, rather than what many consider to be the marathon. None-the-less, if I were to just wait to do this until I was absolutely sure that I was capable of taking the time and effort to finish, then I’d likely never do it. I’m taking a chance on myself, and this is something I have really wanted to do for a long time, now.

I suppose Angela’s reasons are similar, although it’s not really been something she’s talked about doing so much. I think she wants the challenge as well. To do something that most family and friends would think she’s not capable of doing. Again, this isn’t about competing with anyone, but ourselves. And that means one thing: running (or walking, for that matter) across the finish line.

Another thing is, Angela and I are both the kind of people who know people who have run marathons. However, we both don’t want that to be our experience: to be the friend of the people who do things. That’s no real way to know life. We’re going to have to do things like this for ourselves. Have an experience, not just some stories we’re heard.

For the record, I estimated my finishing time at 4 hours and 15 minutes. Is that being optimistic? Probably, but so isn’t the very idea of me finishing a marathon?