Yesterday, while I was out and about at the grocery store, I received a call from Clyde and he let me know that in the anticipation of Hurricane Ike, we were switching Sunday's long to run Saturday. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to say, "No thanks" or "I'll wait until next week" because I was being a slacker and our friend Will is in town for the last time until he heads back to Michigan. But who was I kidding. I knew I'd be going to bed early and this was going to give me just the excuse to do so and I could achieve a milestone. I agreed and then the nervous anxiousness gave birth to rumblings emanating from my belly.
My alarm went off at 5:05 AM and I rolled out of bed to throw on my gear. All night, I'd had dreams of not waking up early enough, my alarm not going off, and forgetting my sneakers. But, none of that happened. I put on my clothes and lined the parts prone to chafing with Body Glide. (yes, that stuff works!) My friend Kelly gave me a tip about putting Vaseline on my feet to prevent blisters while running in the rain. I figured, I surely better grease up ahead of time. Better to be safe than sorry. I kissed everyone goodbye and this time I drove on over to Einstein's Bagel's to meet the group. We were set to leave at 5:30, so when I pulled in it was 5:27. I had enough time to be introduced to all of the other members. This was a much larger group than Thursday.
We set off on our normal pace, everything was really dark out and we were getting some incredible breezes along the way. We passed the library and kept on going. It was still pretty dark out and all I could do was just keep running and running. We passed a group of Luke's Locker runners, along with quite a few other walking and running groups. I continued to be amazed by how many people utilize this trail that I had no idea even existed until a few days ago.
It started to get lighter out and next thing I knew, we were on Legacy. For those of who are local and familiar enough with Plano, we went from 15th and 75 to Legacy just East of Coit. We ran down Legacy until we hit Coit, ran over to the Rec Center and cut through the parking log. We turned around and headed back. This time, it seemed quite a bit more daunting. I think I prefer running in the dark since I have no idea what is going on. On our way back up Legacy, Gaye (a veteran marathoner who Clyde told me would run her marathons in less than 3 hours!) took a spill. Earlier, she'd told me that she'd fallen last week and her ankle was feeling a little too loose, so she wasn't going to push it much. Well, she toppled over and I heard boom-crunch. I glanced over and immediately felt helpless. Even though I had my pack, it was full of things that couldn't help out with the cuts and scrapes. I offered her my Energy Vitamin water to rinse off the cuts, but she said no. I think she was probably more embarrassed and upset with herself than really hurt. She slowly got up, composed herself. We walked a bit and she just hollered out, "I'm ok, let's keep on!" What a trooper. Man, take a spill, dust yourself off and keep on going. True inspiration, which was much needed at that point. We were more than halfway finished with the first 14 mile loop, so we ventured forward. When we crossed over and took a quick break before breaking apart. Three of us decided to keep running, one of course was Clyde. We took off on our typical Tuesday/Thursday loop: to the library and back. After that first mile, a family of monkeys jumped on my back. I was really struggling and second guessed myself. I was COMPLETELY unsure if I could power on. I was gonna finish regardless, but it may not have been running. Then, Clyde said, it doesn't matter if you are jogging or walking. It is a matter of foot time. You need to be on your feet to know you can be on your feet for that long. I took a deep breath and asked him, "how much further to the next water fountain?" He said, not much further. We can walk there if you'd like. So we did. It was about 60 feet of a walk. And that's how it went until the library (about another 2 miles). I'd convinced the other guy, Matt, to stay on with us through to the end and to not stop at 18 miles. He agreed and boy was I grateful. I continued to struggle, but listening to Matt's story of how he became a runner, and then listening to Clyde's story about his daughter and how she discovered running, I kept running. We stuck to our routine: running to the water fountain, drinking water, walking for 20 - 30 feet, then continued to run some more. We kept talking and running and talking and running. There were some times where we slowed down. Each hill we came upon, I lovingly declared: The hills are my friend. I took my short steps and stopped attacking the hills like I used to do. I told Clyde that I needed about 1/2 - 1/4 mile to walk at the end so my legs wouldn't go into the shaky-shock like it normally does. He cryptically said, do you want to stop at 20 miles. I begrudingly responded, sure, that'll be fine. Just as long as it isn't steps away from the front door at Einstein's Bagels. He grinned and we powered through. I told him I needed to stop at that last water fountain because I was parched. We stopped and just a bit later, he stopped. I was puzzled and he raised his arms over his head and grinned from ear-to-ear. Woo-hoo! 20 miles!! A HUGE rush flooded my body and I exclaimed, "WHAT???" I gave him a high 5 (another thing I like about this group because they like to give high 5's) and I couldn't believe it. Matt happily took a deep breath too. This was his longest run this year and he said he was very happy to do the entire 20 instead of stopping at 18. We walked for a little bit and continued running until a quarter mile out. We did a pretty fast walk to the end and I even trotted across the street. I was exhilarated and overjoyed. Never before had I run 20 miles! But then Clyde showed me his watch and said, "You didn't run 20 miles, you ran 20.75!" I grinned and couldn't believe it. Running with short walk breaks is the way to go. Especially since I didn't have one single peeing accident either! Even better is listening to someone chatting along the way to take your mind off the mental pain. All the lulls were mental blocks. I kept trying to remember the words of inspiration. I prayed, then I thought of why I was running and why I was training. And somehow I found the energy to go through. AND...Clyde told me that I actually picked it up the pace for those last 3 miles. He said, "Look at you, you're ready for your 22 and 24, and even your marathon. Keep it up." I can't wait for the long run next Sunday, especially after the 20K Tour des Fleurs on Saturday. (I know, I must be nuts!)
I drove home to pick up Don, Will, and Mari so they could go to Einstein's Bagels and meet the crew. Will and Don later went to the track to run a timed mile and a half, then work on some sprints. They dropped Mari and I off at the nail salon, where I indulged in a well-deseved pedicure with my sister.
Afterwards, we ALL enjoyed the Indian food buffet at Chetinaad Palace. YUM! Now, it is off to take a nap before the Tech game.
oh, and it was only 3 weeks ago that Clyde ran his marathon in Iceland. WOW. And Gaye is ok. She actually picked up the pace at the end and hammered through. INCREDIBLE.
p.s. thanks to all of you who knew I was going to attempt this race and for your text messages along the way!