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September 20, 2009

Mary Tyler Moore

What an odd title, you may be saying to yourself. After a month and a half without an update, it wouldn't make much sense. Yet, when you're done, the title will come through in picture-perfect clarity.

Where can I start? There have been good points (I won a weight loss contest, and have continued to lose). There have been bad points (aches, pains, bad runs, awful runs).

I haven't put up an update, aside from my daily workouts, since August 1. There may actually be somebody out there who is still wondering how I did in the Brew Run. If that person exists, PLEASE, make yourself known, because it'd do wonders to know somebody else is reading this thing. For the record, I did about as good as I had hoped. I ran under 49 minutes for the 5.2 mile course (YES!) and was beat by at least 2 minutes by my mother-in-law (UGH! She's quick, that one!). The rest of the runs at the Cape were used to take it easy, recover a little, but stay in shape. I did pretty well.

When we got back, I started off with a little over 6 miles, seeing the center of town. Then the heat and humidity really came. In a summer that was ideal for training, the dog days had finally arrived. I was doomed to a week inside the gym, running over 30 miles on the treadmill. Talk about monotony. Don't even get me started on attempting to run a half-marathon on a treadmill that turns off ever 60 minutes. That week put me in a bit of a funk, but I persevered. Unfortunately, school began the following week. I spent many days waking up at 5, running a little bit, going to work, running a little more, and getting my miles in. That wasn't so bad, but I was pretty tired. That Saturday, the heat/humidity broke, and there was a nice light mist. In this, I reached a new milestone, running over 14 miles for the first time. I immediately felt like I could conquer the world.

Reality seemed to set in the following week. I'll call this the Laverne & Shirley week. Simply put, I felt like (what I imagine to be) a Sclemeel...or was it a schlemazel.* Whatever! You get the point. I got less than half my scheduled miles during the week. I had to skip a day, because my legs were dead. This was all before Saturday, on which I had to run 17-18 miles. I didn't know what to expect, but on the success of the previous week's run, I thought I was ready. The temperature was in the mid seventies, and the humidity was high, and I thought I should get ready for long stretches without water. I chose to repeatedly run a loop of around 4 1/3 miles. After mile 14 or 15, I hit a major wall. I had cotton mouth. My legs were tight. I was dehydrated. Each step took a gargantuan effort. I wanted to quit...then realized I didn't know how. So I began to trudge my way through the course. There is nothing better to describe this effort than the word trudge. Each step was a mini-struggle. It also gave me ample time to am I ever going to run 9 more miles. Hence, Laverne & Shirley. Don't even get me started on the Great Ragu.

Over the past two weeks, I've done a lot of thinking about that awful run. My paces are off. i'm not getting my mileage. Have I built up my base enough to get through 26 miles in one day, if I've only done one week with 36+ miles? Each run, I continued, but secretly wondered, as I hadn't run quite normally since that day. My wife even suggested it was okay to just run the half-marathon. But I'm determined to do this before I'm 30, now. I told her there was no way I could go through another summer like this past one. I had to do it, or I'd have to die trying...figuratively.

Worse than my self doubt, I've been getting a lot of emails lately from the ING-Hartford Marathon folks. 35 days until the race...30 days until...This week, I got the wake up call: 21 days. That was Friday morning, and I suddenly realized I only had a few more training runs to go. Things were looming ominously, like a book that begins "It was a dark and stormy night..." I was apprehensive to say the least, as I had my first ever 20 miler ahead of me the following morning.

There I was, waking up shortly after 7, ready to make the most of my day, with some last minute jitters. S was taking our daughter to swim practice with her to allow me to get my run in during the "cooler" morning hours. Little did I know it was in the mid-forties when I woke up. When I began, it was 47...8:31 am. I had driven to the local rail-trail for a flat run. My trunk had 55 oz of G2, some Gu packets, and a bottle of water. Despite some pre-run stomach discomfort, I was ready to run.

After 4 miles, the lack of facilities made me rethink the trail, and I rushed home. The two mile loop near home may have some hills, but at least I had a garage, so I could get a drink in the shade, people in the area knew me if I passed out on the curb, and at least my wife could findme if she needed me. By 10:30, I had only run 6 miles. This was not going to be my day. I was a schlimazel. My unfinished training miles, my nervousness, and everything else had finally caught up.

I won't get into any gory details, but let's say I was fighting off dehydration (despite drinking 30+ oz before even beginning, and a good 6+ oz every 2-3 miles). Still, I persevered. Finally, after finishing 15 miles, I was starting to feel better. My stomach hadn't bothered me in 5 miles. I completed another 2.5. I had broken my own personal best. Things were starting to look up, and my legs were still strong. I told S I only had 1 more time of 2.5 miles, and I was done. It was around 1:20 pm at that time (though I had only been running about 3:50 of those 5 hours, based on my calculations).

Starting the final loop, I made sure I was well hydrated. I drank about 6 oz of Gatorade, and another half bottle of water. Despite this, it was really surprising when, about a mile from the house, my left quad began to cramp. I hadn't had a muscle go into spasm like that since I had played football 12 years ago. Doing a quad stretch to loosen it, my hamstring seized up, as well. There I was, 1.5 miles from my goal, and I could no longer run physically. I did some calculations, realizing it had been only 10 minutes since I last drank. It would take a few minutes more before any of that hydration took effect. My right quad went into a knot, too. I was hunched over in front of the local elementary school, when the only cop I know in town drove by...he honked and waved (and really, it was good to see him back on duty. It meant he was doing well enough to be working after some serious personal health issues). I figured I must look okay, and dammit, if he could work, then I could at least walk.

I began to power walk: elbows high. After around a quarter of a mile, I decided to try running. I was okay. I WAS OKAY!!! I ran. I ran, happier than I've ever been running. It wasn't even torture. It was relief. I was going to make it. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!!

As I jogged onto my street, I caught sight of my driveway. There were S and the little girl, and the pup too. The little girl ran to meet me as I reached the end of the driveway. She said "Good job, Daddy" in her cute little way. I went into the house, chugged some chocolate milk, and began stretching.

All that went through my head was: You just ran 20 miles today, despite constant adversity. You ran 20 miles today. You're going to do it. You're gonna make it after all!

Forget Laverne, Shirley, or even Spartacus...I am Mary Tyler Moore.

*For the record "according to both the Kosher Nosh: Yiddish Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary, schlemiel is a habitual bungler and schlimazel is an unlucky person.
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S September 20, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

The person who wants to know is your sister, dork!

And now, I'm going to continue reading.

S September 20, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

Ok, so I thought the cop driving by was going to be the best part of that motivational story (and I'm also glad to see he's doing well), but I have to say, having the kiddo run up to you and say, "Good job, Daddy!"...yeah, you've seriously got the cutest toddler in the world!

marmie September 21, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

classic, I've never had a doubt in my mind that you're going to make it!!!!
so get out there on 10/10 and JUST DO IT. :)
you'll have lots of fans cheering you on, including one very cute little girl (me. haha.) that was a blog that got me seriously choked up. maybe because I'm a runner, or maybe just because I can only envision the struggle. or maybe, just because....
:) by the way, did they ever post the OFFICIAL brew run resultss? even BI got official results in within 24 hours. :)

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