A Dozen Reasons to Smile: 12.05 Miles

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Not yet ten posts into this thing, I’m already unable to come up with titles that are even barely witty or eye-catching.  Yecch.

This morning, I learned what happens when I treat my body with some measure of respect the night before a long run.  [Spoiler Alert!]  Believe it or not, good things happen!

My Friday night was spent eating Sicilian pizza – pretty ghastly on the fat content, but chock full o’ carbs and low in fiber – drinking lots of water, and going to bed at 9:30 pm.  Not a huge loss; I mean, have you seen the cavalcade of unadulterated dogshit that passes for Friday night TV programming these days?

As is the case most mornings where I get up at some ungodly hour, my 5:00 am alarm was augmented by a gentle tap on the back from the missus, which means that the clock radio had been on for anywhere between five seconds and ten minutes.  After quickly dressing, I headed downstairs for a banana, some water, and a few gulps of iced Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.  And out the door I went.  Lacking that familiar headache, slightly queasy stomach and all-around foggy feeling, it was hard for me to believe it was actually Saturday.  In short, my ass was not dragging, and I walked up to the starting line, convincing myself with ease that this might actually be fun.

I cannot tell a lie; it actually was mostly fun.  If you think you have the whole world to yourself when you head out before the ass-crack of dawn on a regular weekday, you really ought to try it on a Saturday or Sunday.  My biggest worry was perhaps getting greased by a car full of drunks driving home from an after-party somewhere.

The first couple miles, I occupied myself by singing “Marathon” by Rush.  To myself.  In my head.  You’re welcome.  That song has been part of my mental jukebox for a quarter century, and I actually had trouble remembering the order of the verses; definitely a function of my advancing age.  I’m sure I will come back to this song many times over the next several months, but the lyrical passage that stuck with me today was “More than blind ambition / More than simple greed / More than a finish line / Must feed this burning need.”  Well put, Professor.  I think that’s a good point of departure, when considering the mental and emotional pathologies of the distance runner.  What IS it that is compelling me to do this to myself?!?

I learned that Jacobs Creek Road is absolutely spooky before dawn.  Although it’s very lightly traveled most hours of day, there is virtually no shoulder space to speak of, and no artificial lighting overhead.  It was my first time on this road in the dark (though dressed in a highly “visible” manner), and I decided that I should perhaps reconsider future use of this road in absence of daylight.

There were zero Close Encounters of the Cervidae Kind this morning, which I found no end strange.  Thinking about this long and hard – which is usually dangerous – I ultimately determined that the deer just sleep in on the weekends, not unlike the normal people.

The course I picked out turned a bit boring, just past the halfway point.  Hopewell gives way to Ewing.  Country gives way to a commercial/light industrial strip, which gives way to a long, uninspiring residential road.  I stagger past my son’s day care center.  Shit, I owe those people an ass-load of money on Monday.  Amazingly enough, nothing really hurts, and I feel like I could go on another hour if I had to.  OK, maybe another mile, but still.  This was a successful morning.

Although this was the third longest run of my life – my longest outside of a sanctioned event – it didn’t really seem to get difficult until the final mile.  It turns out that most of the second half of this course was gently downhill, which really saved my ass.  Somehow I pulled this off with only a sleeve of Clif Shot Blocks and eight ounces of water at the six-mile mark.  I don’t think I would have gotten away with this in the afternoon sun; it’s probably time for me to break down and get a fuel belt befitting someone who will attempt to run 26.2 miles in the near future.

As I type this Saturday night, my body has begun to make its displeasure known to me.  It is pretty pissed, and will probably be more so tomorrow morning.

Toenail Update!  I would say that about six of my ten toenails are definitely a little bit sore following today’s run.  I am sure I’m well on my way to a Sock Full o’ Toenails.

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