Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Insanity - 4. extreme folly; senselessness; foolhardiness

—Synonyms 1. dementia, lunacy, madness, craziness, mania, aberration.

It's amazing how busy life can get -- and then you try to cram in training for marathon and your life goes from crazy to flat out insane.

It's not a cliche to say that running is no longer a habit, but an addiction.

The marathon schedule called for a 19 mile run this weekend. Most of the group met Saturday at 6am to run. But I needed to coach a soccer game early that morning and had family plans the rest of the day.

At least one other person in our group wanted to run Sunday morning as well. Even on Sunday we had committments late morning so we agreed on a 4:30am start time.

The insanity begins.

I woke up 3:30am Sunday morning to heavy downpour and thunderstorms. I checked the forecast and noticed the severe weather moving out of our area so I continued to grab my stuff and head out the door. When my wife questions whether or not I'm running on any particular morning, my response is always they same (it's also the same response I use to motivate my self to get out the door each morning): they don't cancel the race because of a little ran.

Shortly after 4:30am I arrive at Waterfall Glen and my running partner is already there. Before long, we're off and running for two laps at WFG... at 4:45 in the morning, in the dark, and a steady down pour.

It's barely 5am, still dark outside, the rain continues and it begins lightning again yet neither of us hesitate passing mile 2. At this point we realize we have clearly crossed the line and begin to laugh at our obsessive behavior.

Most people would consider someone who chooses to run a marathon as insane, but if they knew what was involved in our training on a week-to-week basis throughout the program it would remove any doubt in their mind.

Around mile 7 we pass our first runner of the day.

We complete our first lap of 9.5 miles in around 1 hour and 50 minutes. We held a good pace as we knew we’d have to do it. We made a quick stop at the car to refill our water bottles and grab a quick bite. In less than 3 minutes we started our second lap.

We decided to run the second lap with a 1-2 minute walking break every 20 minutes. We also ran the second lap clockwise so we could count our miles down on the posted markers. I believe this is also the more difficult way to run the trail, but I know that is not universally accepted.

We came across at least 40 people other people on the trail, mostly runners but a few groups of bikers as well. As we catch the passing the glance of the oncoming runners we’d often break into bursts of laughter as realized how crazy we all must be and how crazy we’d appear to the rest of world—if they weren’t at home sleeping.

Somewhere on this lap we notice our legs are on autopilot, so we try to mix things up a bit. We try different things; running backwards, sideways, skipping, deep strides—anything we could find to loosen up a bit. Its hurts but it also feels good to stretch.

17 miles into the run and we hit the mile 2 marker. We feel so good at this point we agree to pick the pace up. We had always maintained a pace just quick enough were we could still talk. But the last two miles our conversation fell quiet and the pace quickened.

Before long we came to the trail-head and the finish line was in sight. It was difficult to stop running, but we made it.

Our last mile clocked in as our fastest of the set, and the second lap was a full four minutes faster than the first lap—to which we can only credit our run/walk strategy.

During our cooldown, Kitty (my running partner) asked something I didn’t expect: “Did you learn anything from the run today?” Hmmm…. What did I learn?

1) Walking can definitely make you go faster.
2) If you have a refuel and re-hydrate plan, stick with it. If you don’t, make one up!
3) My socks are too short.
4) You’re less likely to ‘cheat’ when running with a friend.
5) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
6) There’s no longer any doubt that I’m an addict.

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
-- T. S. Eliot

Here's my impression of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption:Free Image Hosting at


MJ said...

Nice! I love a good run in the rain, but I remember the day you're talking about. That was a downpour!!

Congrats for sticking with it. You'll do great on marathon day!

John from Grand Haven, MI said...

... and you didn't even have to crawl through a sewage drain pipe!

see you on 10/7.