“What did we do?,” she said. “6.2”, I replied.

I’ve been quiet since my Santa Hustle on Nov 23rd. But I haven’t stopped running. My daughter, Lucy, got home from college and she’s training for a 1/2 marathon in Minnesota – in February – called the Hypothermic Half. (And I thought I was crazy…)  So, she was all about getting some mileage in and I was happy to NOT become a lump on the couch, though I was tempted.

We managed some nice 4, 5, 6 mile distances.

THEN, we got an invitation from Ms. Joanie Benoit Samuelson (friend and former neighbor) to go for a spin with her and her daughter, right before Christmas. Well, let me tell you, this was an EVENT.  I’ve gone running with Joanie once, more than a year ago, and was both humbled and inspired. And I was really slow but kept with group, mostly, because they slowed down for me.  Now, I’ve got 2 marathons behind me since then, plus the extra 1/2 marathon, plus the recent running company of my young, spirited, daughter. I felt energized and excited.

We met up in the morning, in a mix of snow/rain/freezing rain (yay, Maine).  Some warm greetings exchanged, then we were off, 2 and 2, around Joanie’s favorite roads and trails. It was amazing. I was running better than the last time, and the girls were paced well together.  I asked a lot of questions knowing that Joanie could talk and run with no problem. Lucy, in particular, had wings on her feet and was having a blast – after about 45 minutes, she looked over her shoulder to give me a “thumbs up” but saw me dropping off the pace, definitely way at the back. Just after that, Joanie (in the lead, natch) yelled back, “Do you want to loop again or finish up?” Fortunately for me, Lucy took mercy on me and chirped, “One loop is fine, thanks!” and I smiled at her for saving me.

Joanie looked over her shoulder, then, saw me dragging, and circled back to run next to me, the girls comfortably running ahead, side by side, chatting.  Joanie paced me up the hill, with my stomach burning from that last stretch of speed.  As we closed in on her driveway, the conversation went like this:

Joanie: “Do you have a watch on?”

Me: “Yep”

Joanie: “What did we do?”

Me: “6.2”

Joanie: “How far did we go?”

PAUSE. Do you see what just happened there? Joanie Benoit Samuelson is the ONLY person who could mistake “6.2” as the PACE rather than the MILEAGE.  (For the record, our pace was not anywhere near a 6.2 mile. We were much slower than that, thank God.)

But, on the upside, as we trotted into her driveway, she nodded and said, “You’re much faster than the last time we ran together.”  Best Christmas Present EVER. Really. I keep hearing her over and over in my head.

So, Lucy and I departed, grateful for Joanie and Abby to share their run with us.  It was such a great day, and we felt so good about it, that we set out for a solid 10 miler right after Christmas.

We took off together, but about 7 miles in, it was just so obvious that Lucy was holding back to stay with me. I told her to follow her feet and find her own pace. She smoked me. And as I arrived, there she was waiting, walking in circles, all cooled off. But, we both got the 10 done and were pretty happy about it.

Then, Janet was ready to run. Last Sat, we took off in single digit temperatures. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we had a lot to talk about, and we realized we were hauling. Really. We both had a serious undercurrent of energy that fed off the other person and we just moved. Fastest I’ve ever run 6 miles *and* we had negative splits with hills.

All of this has been so inspiring that I decided to buy some new kicks. I really do need them – the soles of my sneaks are showing wear with about 450 miles into them – so definitely time to go shopping. And… as you know… I’m a fan of Fleet Feet Maine Running Company (the store) and a huge  fan of the Hoka (the shoes.) One might even say I’m a bit evangelistic about the Hokas. I’ve been through several pairs of the Hoka Stinsons since training for the Philly marathon in ’13, but I got brave, and ordered the new, Hoka Bondi 4.  They have some cool features and I was anxious to try them.

Here, you can see my Hoka Stinson Lites (front), with the Hoki Bondi 4 (back) and my dog, Stella, photo bombing…

027

Today, I got in a good 6 miles (in 0 degrees, thankyouverymuch), and I liked the shoes. But a major blister was revealed when I took them off. Too soon to say whether they’re going to work, but it’s not looking good. Blisters are bad. I may have to go back to another pair of the trusty Stinsons. We’ll see.

Onward!

Running to Crazy Land

My former college roommate commented that I’m definitely a runner since I refer to my distances in the hundredth of a mile… as in “12.92” versus what most of the population would refer to as “13.” 

Truth is, I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, which is a bit strange, since I’ve been running on and off for the last 8-9 years.  Seven years ago, I ran my first 10k. Two years ago, I ran a 10 mile race. Last year, I ran two half marathons with one month in between them.  Yet, in spite of all of that, I still think of myself on the outside of the running population – an interloper – not actually a spectator – but  more of a  “don’t mind me, I’m just passing through” presence. 

Is it because I’m not fast? Is it because I am only dedicated when I have a race distance that scares me?   I tell myself that I’ve been coerced into the races, and that I can (and do) blame my running buds for getting me to register. Is it because they were a pair, and then they invited me in, and I always run behind? (They’re faster.)

I’m not sure why I haven’t given myself the credit that I apply to every other runner I see on the road… but today, I realized I *am* definitely “a runner.”

This is how I know:

1. I was up before the sun so that I could start the barn chores and still drive to Janet’s house by 6:30 a.m.

2. I put on shorts and a t-shirt even though it was only 48 degrees outside.

3. I rubbed silicone stick all over my skin in any place that I thought might rub against fabric.

4. I drank pickle juice to keep the cramps away. (I’ll come back to this one.)

5. I took 2 pit stops in the woods (this is Janet’s fault.) 

6. I ran 16 miles.

7. I got back to my house, filled the tub with cold water, poured in three bowls of ice, and then SAT in it.

(I’ve just paused, thinking, “I only have 7 items – 10 would make a more legit list.”  But then I just re-read my list of only 7 and I think those are enough highlights to prove the point. 😉 )

 

I’ve heard that runners, whether they know it or not, are part of what’s sometimes called “a closed community” – meaning that they bond strongly to one another through the shared experience of endurance and sacrifice, and are sometimes not in touch with how their extremism affects or impacts others.  I disagree. I don’t think it’s a “closed community.”  I think it’s Crazy Land.  And I’ve just moved in.

Crazy Land is not  a closed community at all – it’s wide open -everyone is invited, especially runners. And, what I realize now, is that anyone who puts on sneaks, puts one foot in front of the other, over and over again, despite the body’s readiness to stop, IS a runner, including me.  The distance doesn’t matter. The pace doesn’t either.  Stepping to the challenge makes a runner. And, the challenge is *always* self imposed. Sure, I freely point the finger at Janet and Margaret, but the truth is that I’ve always had the power to say “no”, but I never have.  Even this morning, Janet was planning on running 17 miles. My training plan suggested 14.  We agreed that I would shoot for 15 and Janet would keep going to get her 17.  But then, when we got to the 7.5 mile turnaround, Janet said, “Let’s go for a full 8 before we turn back – can  you do 16?” and I said, “Ok.” 

I’m pretty sure that’s proof that I’m a runner and that I did it to myself.  Janet just suggested the distance. I actually made myself do it.  I am a runner.

 

NOTE RE CRAMPS:  My 2 previous distance runs were really wrought with gut splitting cramps.  More than one person suggested drinking pickle juice, which sounded a bit out of bounds, even for Crazy Land, but I Googled it and it does seem popular.  This morning, I poured about 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice from the pickle jar into my 6 oz water container.  I have to say, I only drank a portion of that concoction and I just couldn’t do more.  At one of our water stops (shout out to Janet’s husband, Michael Griffin, for stashing water along the route for us), I poured out what I had and refilled with just plain water. Then I burped and sweated pickle juice for about the next 5 miles.  Just not my thing.

BUT – this was a CRAMP FREE RUN.  Maybe it *was* pickle juice, maybe it’s because I started taking probiotics, maybe it’s because my body has finally calmed down, OR, maybe it’s because I shared 16 miles with my friend, Janet, and in spirit with my friend, Margaret.

 

NOTE RE TEAMMATES:  Janet is in fine form. She’s ahead of me in mileage and polished off 17+ miles this morning after a particularly grueling, sleep deprived week of work related stresses.  Margaret is recovering from emergency surgery. She will be fine, but she needs some recovery time.  Of course, some people in her situation might just bail on the marathon, but I’m pretty sure Margaret will be back to her training without a doctor’s note.  Inspirational teammates for sure!