I'm two weeks away from my first half marathon of the year, and I've been dodging the pre-requisite long training runs. Life gets in the way, races get in the way, heat... You name it, I can turn it into an excuse to shorten my route. But, since it's been a year since I've logged any 1+ hour runs on my feet, I knew I had to get my act together.
Kerri and I planned to run today, and when the forecast called for mid-90's and oppressive humidity, I insisted on running early. I mentioned it on Twitter, and somehow ended up talking Jeff into running with us. Jeff is training for the Chicago Marathon so he was looking to run long as well. Turns out he was several beers deep on the night, when everything sounds fun.
We picked up Kerri and headed to the RI bike path, which has become a favorite of mine on the long run. It's a safe path with friendly people, and if you go early enough it's completely shaded. Our run started at 6:45am so we didn't see a ton of people for the first half. I carried my fuel belt with frozen water bottles, which was a nice treat. The ice thawed and stayed cold for over an hour, and the ice on my back was a bonus! A couple miles into the run Kerri broke away and ran ahead, while Jeff and I tried to stick to a 9:45-10 minute slow pace. She makes me nervous when she does this because she doesn't carry a watch, or water, and I didn't know how far she'd end up going. The good thing about this path is that it is out and back, so there's *virtually no way to get lost.
On Thursday I ran with Anthony and another Jeff on some trails in Upton and I managed to roll my ankle pretty badly, and then managed to do it twice more over the course of the run. It was quite tender yesterday and I didn't have a ton of confidence that I'd be able to make today's run. I had it wrapped and iced much of yesterday and that did seem to help. On today's run, the ankle immediately spoke up and bothered me a lot over the first several miles but seemed to ease up after that. I'm not sure if the ankle actually stopped hurting or if the discomfort of the heat of the day trumped the ankle pain, but either way it wasn't an issue after about mile 3.
At one point Jeff and I hit a railroad crossing, with the signals flashing! We waited for the train. And waited. And waited. Turns out there was a problem with the signal and there really wasn't a train coming, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't welcome the unexpected break.
Jeff and I finally made it to the six mile mark, and Kerri was nowhere to be found. We walked an extra quarter mile to see if we could spot her, but eventually we had to get moving again before we stiffened up too much. We figured that she probably ran a little farther than she should but would turn around when she was ready and would probably catch up to us. Or, maybe she missed one turn that the bike path takes. The way back was a lot slower as we had to climb back up the hills we had run down on the way out. The heat was getting to us, and Jeff's dehydration from last night's beers were starting to give him some leg cramps. We decided to walk the last mile back while he dealt with his leg cramp, and really started to panic when Kerri still hadn't caught up to us. We worried about the fact that she didn't have water, and were making plans on how we were going to find her. When we reached the parking lot, however, there was Kerri. Looking fresh and well rested (she mentioned she was waiting for us for quite a while). And oh, while she was running she bumped into someone who knows someone and he ended up giving her a bottle of water. I'm still not clear on how she beat us back, but Kerri is after all our team ninja and so I'm not really surprised.
So here it is: 12 miles done. It wasn't fun after about mile 9, and by mile 10 I wouldn't have minded being kidnapped, but we did it. I still hate running in heat and I'm not a fan of the chafing that seems to join it, but I just might hate it a little less nowadays. And the best part about the run was climbing into the car when we were done, and realizing it was only 9am and the hardest part of the weekend was behind us!