Isn’t it funny how the runs you dread the most are usually the best ones? And how, if you go into a run with zero expectations, you get the most out of it?
The last few days have been hard, between not sleeping enough and doing some serious, hard-core yoga that has wailed on my hips and glutes. Add a few hormone into the mix and you have a beautiful trifecta that’s called Tired Runner Girl.
I actually got close to 8 hours of sleep last night and felt like I wouldn’t die if I ran long today, which was a better attitude than the one I went to sleep with. So things were looking up.
Dave, Nico and I met at the Boulder Reservoir at 6:30am. After a little general morning chitchat we took off down 55th street in the pre-dawn light.
They planned on running 21 miles today; I was thinking more along the lines of 18. We’re all running the Colorado Marathon in May and are loosely on the same training cycle, except I’m running the Desert R.A.T.S. 25 mile trail race in Fruita in April and need to peak earlier than them in terms of trail endurance, a totally different beast than marathon endurance.
Yesterday I ran Rattlesnake Gulch with the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club, pulling in about 10 miles in close to 2 hours. Did I really need to run 21 miles today, considering that my longest run in this training cycle was 16 miles? “Need” is a relative term because at mile 9, the moment when I had to choose if I would turn back and run the last 9 miles ALL BY MYSELF or finish the run with the guys, it was a no-brainer to decide to tack on the last 3 measly miles so I would have company the entire way.
I don’t know what the best part of the run was today because there were so many good things that happened.
The weather was perfect and the sunrise was phenomenal… orange and strawberry swirled sherbert at the top with a treasure trove of lemon meringue at the bottom, all culminating in a glowing ball of fire that rose from the flat side of the earth.
The conversation was amazing as well. We covered topics ranging from teen fiction to Dave’s passionate disgust of certain root vegetables, to pop culture and parenting, with the requisite breath spent debating the merits of distance running and opining about our certain brand of crazy. During one conversation I spouted off about the difference between Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and used a short list of terms from some lyrics. Apparently Dave is getting to appreciate the variety of conversation I’m capable of and I’m waiting anxiously for the blog post in which he uses his new favorite word that until now, hasn’t been a part of his running vocabulary.
We cruised along at an 8 or 9 minute pace, stopping periodically to fuel, pee and take pictures next to the beautiful alpaca we found around mile 16.
We were a big pile of smiles and the miles continued to melt away as we casually, easily trotted along, engrossed in the moment.
Finally, around 9:45am, we saw the first signs of other runners. A big pack was headed our way. As they started to pass us Dave called out and greeted by name about six of the fastest guys you’re likely to see in Boulder, including James Carney, the guy who came in 7th in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Austin a few weeks ago. You know, because that’s who he hangs with. I mean really… what is this, BOULDER, the running mecca of the U.S.??? Yup.
Finally we turned onto 55th and headed into the homestretch. From somewhere behind us a group of runners that were doing an easy 90-minute run appeared out of nowhere. They magically split the three of us apart and with new pacing partners to reel us in, Dave, Nico and I ran our fastest three miles of the day. I talked with my new friends about social media, writing and One World Running, an organization they both volunteer for and one that’s been on my radar for a long time. We told stories and entertained each other until suddenly, we were done. 21.12 miles later, we were back at the cars.
There’s a certain magic that happens when you have no expectations. I didn’t know how far I was going to run today, how I would feel or what would happen anywhere along the way. I just knew that I was committed to showing up. In the process I got to run with two fabulously talented and interesting people and then met a few more along the way. That never would have happened if I had turned around at mile 9 for the crazy reason of “I shouldn’t push myself too hard”.
I’m stronger than I think, as a wise friend in Seattle keeps reminding me. And when I let my life be touched by other people, I gain so much more than strong quads.