On December 7th, 2010, I ran two miles at Fayetteville Lake and then puked in the grass. This Sunday I ran 22 miles at Hobbs, in 85-degree heat, and felt pretty much fine afterwards. Not too shabby!
I knew it would be my last long run before Hogeye so I wanted to have a really good one. I carried an extra water bottle so I could run the entire Little Clifty Loop and the entire War Eagle Valley Loop (15 miles) before returning to the car to refill. Then I ran the short spur to the bunny ears (an obvious name for the two 3-mile loops, if you see the map). I ran the Dutton Hollow Loop first because it's the hardest of the two and I wanted the opportunity to bail at the end. As it was, I felt great and never gave a thought to not also running the Bayshore Ridge Loop. The first mile of that was super easy, but during the descent to Beaver Lake I felt an unfamiliar pain in my left knee for several steps in a row. Nothing serious, but I saw no reason to push things with the Hogeye only two weeks away. I decided to walk the last few miles back to the car.
As I walked, it struck my just how long it had been since I actually hiked instead of ran. You can never take your eyes off the trail at Hobbs, but walking, you can pay a little bit more attention to the blooming dogwood trees, the bugs and critters scuttling into the leaves to get out of your way, the sounds and smells of spring. I found a perfect owl feather some distance off the trail which I would not have seen running. I collected it and gave it to Donald when I got home.
It also struck me that, with my last long training run out of the way, I was essentially standing at the eve of my first marathon. There's nothing transformational about that; I did not set out 16 months ago with the express purpose of running a marathon--I set out with the purpose of becoming more fit, which I have done. There's nothing final about this marathon, either. I have an even more difficult race coming up six weeks after it, and there will be more after that. Still, it's a cool feeling to be standing at the eve of your first marathon.
I got just a bit emotional, as I walked. I remembered how surprised I was several years ago to learn that my sister Jennifer, who I had almost nothing to do with at that time, was about to run a half marathon. I called to wish her luck. Next thing I knew, she had driven all the way from Houston to run my first half with me in Winslow. I remembered my friend David Dinan who finished the Fayetteville Half and then waited in the cold another 45 minutes just to see me finish. I sponsored David when he ran the St. Jude Children's Hospital Marathon in Memphis on December 6th, 2010, the day before my vomit run at Fayetteville Lake. I thought of my mom running her first 5k at age 65. I thought of Mrs. DMG who, with no prompting at all from me, came home from Dillard's with running tights, a synthetic T-shirt, a jog bra, and some Nike running shoes. She's been running about ten times since.
Running has been good to us!
Total for Mar 26 - Apr 1: 27 miles.