Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh, Danny Boy!

I'll take a hurricane over a hangover any day of the week.

That was the advice from a TnT alum in response to a Facebook post I made debating whether it's worse to run 18 miles in the remnants of a hurricane or the morning after a wedding.

The consensus, at least among my runner friends, was to take on Hurricane Danny, which was scheduled to send some significant rains our way on Saturday.

So I did.

And although it wasn
't as hurricane-like as I was expecting, I admit to questioning my sanity after hearing the rain pouring outside my window when my alarm went off a little after 5 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was pitch-black, a sure sign that summer's coming to an end.

And pouring. Did I mention that?

Almost instin
ctively, I picked up my cell phone -- a little part of me hoping that Shawnna, my running partner for the day, would have sent me a text calling off the run. Nothing.

I checked Facebook and saw Shawnna's post (for all to see): "Yes, it's pouring. Yes, I'm running 18 miles in it. Let's do it, T."

No backing out, I guess.

I packed up my GU, filled my fuel belt and prepared the items for our waterstops. (We were determined not to be under-prepared like we were for last week's 13 miles in the humidity. Lots of fluids this week!)

I sent a simple text to Shawnna: "Are we crazy?"

She replied that these types of runs are what marathon training is about. And pointed out to me that, if anyone, she was the crazy one -- she wasn't even signed up for the Manchester Marathon (yet!) and didn't have a wedding to go to that night.

Crazy, maybe. But a true running buddy, for sure.

I'm not sure that I really expressed to her that day -- although we spent the entire 18 miles music-free, just enjoying chatting with each other and catching up on life as the miles passed -- how grateful I was (and am) for having her by my side for another milestone in my running career.

While I'm sure I could have made it through, one way or another, without her, I'm not sure I would have wanted to.

We were soaked from the beginning, as Hurricane Danny pelted us with big raindrops during the first few miles of our run. We dodged puddles and laughed at times, noting the sogginess of our shorts and shoes and the challenges that wet runs can create. (Runners might know a few of the things I'm referring to here.)

Overall, we felt great. Much better than the 16 I did a few weeks ago in the scorching heat on the Seacoast. Even better than last week's 13 miles in the humidity.

I'd take a hurricane over the heat (or yes, a hangover, like Matt said) any day of the week.

The day's route consisted of the first 18 miles of the marathon course. As we passed the spray-painted marks along the pavement noting the marathon miles, I mentally checked them off in my head. Thirteen more to go, eight more to go, three more to go.

While winding our way through a neighborhood on the Westside, we stepped across the 17-mile marker. "Only one more to go until you've run farther than you ever have," Shawnna said. Too late, I reminded her. Before that moment, 16 miles was my farthest.

Soon enough, we passed the 18-mile mark, just as we turned the corner to make our way up the Daniel Plummer hill. Our cars were parked slightly passed the marker, so let's note that we actually ran more than 18 miles that day.

We finished feeling strong -- soaking wet and getting a little stiffer with every step, but feeling good. And smiling. I think both of us agreed we could have kept going (although I didn't mind stopping at the parking lot to take off my shoes, wring out my socks -- literally -- and try to dry off and warm up).

This week's schedule falls back a bit, with the longest run somewhere in the 10-mile range. Then it's on to 20 miles the following week. I was excited to see a message from Shawnna this morning saying she'd be around that day to run it with me.

Yes, 20 miles. That will take us to the other side of St. A's -- and only 6.2 miles from the official finish line.

I've now run every step of the marathon course. Not on the same day, of course. But that will come soon enough.


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