Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gosh, is the race here yet?

Holy Crap, We Run A Lot
Saturday, June 2nd
The weekends are starting to run together.  My life can be summed up in a few simple words.  Work, sleep, eat, run, study, spend time with John and his kids (my favorite part)….then repeat!  This weekend was no different.  It feels like every trail run starts at the “butt crack of dawn” and my body is instantly tired at the thought of putting trail shoes on my feet at 6:00 a.m.  Of course, we start the runs early to avoid heat stroke, but sometimes I think a stroke would be worth the extra sleep.  Okay, I’m not serious but I am tired.  John and I knew we had a very early trail run scheduled with the Burning River 100 training group on Sunday.  We decided to sleep in a little and hit the trails at the “butt crack of whenever we felt like running” those dang bug invested trails. 
I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast.  I wake up and eat breakfast immediately.  I eat Mango Chobani yogurt, a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and cup of coffee almost every day.  I have never been a person impressed by expensive gifts, but I am the person that notices random acts of thoughtfulness.  For example, I told John I’d like some bagels, Chili Cheese Fritos, and Coke Zero while I’m at his house.  I substitute the Coke for coffee while at John’s because he doesn’t have a coffee maker (I also don’t know how to make coffee, but know how to stick that Keurig pod in the slot like a Starbuck’s barista).  I go downstairs for my pre-run breakfast.  I open the door to get my Coke Zero and what do I see inside the fridge?  Yes, Mango Chibani yogurt is waiting for me in his fridge.  I did not ask for this yogurt, but he saw it in my fridge a week earlier and made a point to get me some.  I noticed that you noticed, John!  You got some huge bonus points for that one, my dear!  I pounded down some food like a linebacker.  John probably ate some cereal and a tiny grape.  I am amazed how much food I eat before and during a run compared to John.  He knows what works for him.  I know what works for me.  Apparently, eating a side of beef and a pound of potatoes is what works well for me. 

Exhibit A- "Make My Butt Tight Enough To Crush Walnuts"

We parked at Boston Store and ran one of my least favorite sections of the course.  The truth is I have a lot of sections I dislike (pretty much because I don’t like trails all that much).  However, I do really like the Towpath sections.  I’m pretty certain most hardcore trail runners just threw up reading that last sentence since the Towpath is pretty much a road.  Anyway, we ran the section I’m calling the “Make My Butt Tight Enough to Crush Walnuts” which starts at Boston Store, goes towards Blue Hen Falls, goes through a hilly and cruel section that makes a good Christian want to curse or question why God created hills, towards Snowville Road, and back.  We added some more miles on the Towpath because I needed a break from anything that involved trees, mud, pine cones, chipmunks, bugs, or water.  John and I started down the Towpath.  I ran ahead towards Lock 29, saw John along the way, ran towards Boston Store, and then back towards Lock 29 to meet up with John and finish our run.  I logged about 22-24 miles. 

We had a really nice time on our run.  We don’t talk a lot which works for both of us, but there was one topic of discussion that proved both interesting and funny “Things you can say on the trails that would also be funny/suggestive in the bedroom with a partner.”  O.K., now let that topic marinate for a little bit.  Trust me; you can come up with some hilarious phrases.  John and I crave Coke during and after our runs.  As a result, we rarely make it home without making a pit stop at a convenience store or local drive-thru.  Today’s stop was McDonald’s where I added a healthy six piece McNugget to our order and John got French fries. 
I like being with a person that enjoys going out on dates.  Typically, we relax on Friday evenings or do something with his precious children.  On Saturdays we often run, get cleaned up, and go out on a date.  John is not a fan of chain restaurants.  He does a wonderful job finding fun locations that support the local community, give me a chance to dress up a bit (and not look like a sweating trail hog), and we get to reward ourselves with fabulous food.  Did I mention John likes to order dessert at restaurants?  Did I mention I’m pretty certain this makes him perfect?  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at http://www.100thbgrestaurant.com/100thbg/.  After dinner, we laid out the supplies we’d need for the Burning River 100 group run the next morning and got some much deserved sleep (after watching a Boston Celtics game, I’m sure). 
Holy Crap, We Need More Sleep
Sunday, June 3rd

We woke up at half past an elephant’s butt.  I mean, a little after 4:00 p.m.  Of course, I ate breakfast.  We got ready and were out the door by 5:00 a.m. to meet the group.  It was exciting to see many familiar faces from last year’s training runs, and thrilling to meet some new people training for the race this year.  We met up with the group a little before 6:00 a.m. at Station Road Bridge.  We carpooled to the start of our run, Harper Ridge.  We trotted along and the run went by quickly thanks to some great conversation with Bob K., David S., Charlie B., Kimberly D., Mark P., Joan C., John H., Matthew M., Radames C., Jim C., Mike S., Michele F., Jared (Mr. Lyme Disease), George T., and several more (that weren’t appropriately tagged in the Facebook photo).  It is pretty common knowledge that runners are often comfortable discussing farts and poop.  I’ve found trail runners are even more comfortable graphically discussing poop and thoughtfully demonstrating farting while running.  For the record-I have never and do not ever plan to fart while running with a group or a friend!  I think we were running for about fifteen minutes and the topic of pooping was on our radar.  Now, this group was clipping.  Typically, you run slower on trails than you run on roads.  I mean, the terrain slows you down.  Nope, this group was bouncing along doing 9:00-9:30 minute miles through sections.  Now, that may not sound fast.  However, it is fast on a hilly course when you are praying to sweet baby Jesus you don’t fall flat on your face in a pile of horse crap covered with flies! 

We would stop along the way to get water and make sure we still had everyone in our group.  I ran with the group for most of this run, but got the opportunity to run one-on-one with John for a nice section too.  Well, I guess we weren’t running one-on-one because we had another person running with us.  This guy was super nice.  I believe he knows more about Lyme Disease than any other person I’ve ever met.  Did you know Lyme Disease is very prominent in Delaware?  Did you know Pennsylvania has a lot of Lyme Disease around the Presque Isle area?  Did you know deer get most of the “bad reputation” for Lyme Disease, but white mice actually carry the disease too?  Did you know New Jersey has a lot of Lyme Disease?  See, we learned a lot.  Basically, I learned I don’t want a tick to hitch a ride on any part of my anatomy.  I don’t want to get Lyme Disease.  I don’t want to visit New Jersey.  Seriously, we got to run with some great people.  Thanks Jared for a fun run!  Also, thank you for keeping me company on that Towpath section when everybody took off like a white mouse (without Lyme Disease) on a motorcycle.  The last section of the run was on the Towpath.  Jim C. is such a strong runner.  He had that group bouncing down at 9:00 minute miles.  I was pretty much shot from the run yesterday and I didn’t have enough food in my system to plug along any faster.  I fell back a bit and just went to my “happy runner place” which really means, “leave me the heck alone and let me focus” and please for the Love of God don’t talk to me until I make eye contact with you or don’t look like I need to punch a gorilla with a phonebook. 

I need to brag on John once again this week.  As mentioned before, he had major back surgery about seven months ago.  Inevitably this has impacted his speed.  In the past, he was on target to complete Burning River 100 around 24 hours.  Currently, there are numb portions of his lower back and legs he still cannot feel.  However, that dude laces up his shoes almost every day and pounds that pavement and/or trails relentlessly in an effort to train for Burning River.  I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have your entire life change overnight.  One day you are perfectly healthy and running carefree.  You have a back surgery and BAM everything is changed - the next time you run your legs don’t feel the same, you can’t run as fast, and you cannot do one dang thing about it.  I am a control person.  I pride myself on being able to handle any situation through determination, hard work, grit, stubbornness, and shear meanness.  So when I’ve tried to imagine what I’d be like if my capacity to run was changed overnight, I’m not sure I’d be as determined and fearless as John has been.  I am so proud of him! Really, I don’t think I’d have the gonads to push like he pushes.  He has a lot to process on these runs just dealing with his body feeling differently.  It says a lot about a man when he won’t sit around feeling sorry for himself and complaining how life dealt him a bad hand.  John is forging ahead through his training.  He probably won’t have a 24 finish time (crap, who does…I sure won’t and I’ve never had a major surgery).  However, I have no doubt he will finish.  If shear desire, determination, hard work, and ambition can be put to the test…John will pass the test with flying colors.  The dude is more stubborn than me, which should put this into perspective.  I am more of the silent stubborn type.  I come off as carefree and fun.  I come off as the girl who just enjoys running and smiles all the time.  Trust me; there is a stubborn streak in me that runs deep.  I never give up.  I never give in.  My point-my stubborn streak looks like a stream compared to John’s stubborn ocean.  Again, I give him a lot of credit and I’m darn proud of what he is attempting.  Yes, most girlfriends would think he was nuts and discourage him from running.  Not me!  He needs this race and I get that loud and clear! 
On our way back to John’s house we stopped at some convenience store.  From the outside it looked like they would only sell lottery tickets and cigarettes.  Thank goodness they actually sold Coke, 100 Grand candy bars, and Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles (I was not in the mood for Chili Cheese Fritos and decided to branch out to another equally disgusting chip).  We quickly got cleaned up, picked up John’s kids, and headed to Akron for the Akron Children’s Hospital 5K race.  All four of us ran the race. John ran with his son, Andrew.  Andrew did an amazing job! I mean fantastic!  This was his first 5K race and he finished around 33 minutes.  I walked the race with Karina.  She was absolutely precious the entire race.  I have to admit John’s kids are two of the most even-tempered and loveable children on this planet.  Karina and I were dead last in the race. However, we had a lovely time playing 20 Questions while walking through Glendale Cemetery.  She also did some impressive cartwheels across the highway while the police car (sag wagon) was following right behind us.  She is a super trooper.  I was very proud of her.  The dog race was starting in the other direction as we were heading toward the finish so Karina and I dodged some dogs.  As we approached the finish John and Andrew came out to run across the line with us and all four of us were focused on crossing the line …HOWEVER, beautiful Karina’s ever keen eyes spied a man on the sidelines wearing a cowboy hat and she began yelling, “Hey cowboy!  Hey!  Hey cowboy!”  I looked at John and started cracking up.  We crossed the finish, got some food, relaxed a bit, and headed to Luigi’s for a nice celebratory dinner. 
Basically, this was the perfect weekend with wonderful people from start to finish!  I’m a lucky lady.  Happy trails….

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