You start out with a smile and a spring in your step. You wipe that stupid grin off your face ten kilometers later, and shuffle your feet up yet another hill, praying that it’s the last one.
The pace feels too easy, too slow. Then an hour later, the pace feels too hard, too fast. You look down on your watch and realize that the pace has not changed.
You ponder the meaning of life at least once.
You ask yourself: “Why am I doing this again?” at least once (every twenty minutes).
You develop deep loathing for your coach. Three quarters into the run, the loathing is accompanied by detailed plans of homicide.
Your armpits, the backs of your knees and the insides of your ears are all salty. Don’t ask me how I know this.
It’s increasingly harder to run in a straight line.
You develop delusions of persecution. On your way back, you are confident that someone is trying to mess with your head by going along your path and moving the road signs further apart.
You start entertaining ideas of finding another hobby. Something more sedentary.
Your post-run email to your coach includes sentences like: “I thought we were friends!”, “You suck!”, and “I hate you!”.
I set out on my first official long run of the marathon training. I leave from Italian’s house. He lives outside of the city, and I much prefer the green to gray as a predominant color of the scenery.
I’m still getting used to running with prescribed numbers. I have an actual pace that I’m trying to stick to for the duration of the run. It’s a beautiful morning, and I’m cruising to the sounds of Benassi Bros. [I’ve been listening to them for a couple of years now, and only today I find out that they are an Italian dance group. Ha! Upgrading my life to all things Italian.]
Few kilometers in, a car slows down, and the windows goes down. “You are in first place!”, a good-looking guy hollers at me.
“Hi, Italian!”, I beam.
My pace feels pretty fast, but I still cannot compete with a turbo engine (yet… right, Coach Mike?), and he speeds off.
As I pass a community church, I notice a small local parish cemetery on the opposite side of the road. Funny that I have never seen it before – even though I’ve driven on this road dozens of times. Things you notice when you slow down…
Another thing I notice is that the road is all downhill. This will be fun on the way back.
When I finally do turn around, the sun is beating down. One kilometer. Another kilometer. The damn hills are really interfering with my pace. Who would have thought?
I slow down, and start looking at the watch. Was I actually enjoying this half an hour ago?
This is where the long run actually starts.
For the remainder of the run, I imitate various animals – from a lame turtle to a lazy snail. Screw you, negative split. You just sound so… negative. I’m going to aim for a positive (!) split instead.
I see a tall woman running towards me on the other side of the road. She is wearing a striped tank top and a pink sports bra. She looks strong. She is smiling. I blink and she disappears. She is me an hour ago.
I’m running towards breakfast. It’s going to be my “last” meal before the 24 hour fast.
Familiar front yard. I stare at the distance marker on my watch.
15.9km. I keep running. 15.9km. Ok, really? 15.9km. I shake the watch lightly. I think it’s broken. 15.9km. 15.9km 15.9km
16.0km That’s it.
Coach Mike prescribes walking for 5-10 minutes after the run to bring down the heart rate and prevent blood pooling. I force myself to walk down the street, even though I really do not feel like moving right now.
As I come up, Italian is gone. But there is a note.
And this… homemade zucchini bread with cinnamon and walnuts.
I love long runs.
Signing off, Solo