I'm always complaining about the silly statistics people come up with for sports. Like...so and so has only beat so and so three times in the last ten years during a full moon on a Tuesday. Despite my pet peeve, I realize I'm always coming up for new stats for my own running. So I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite, but I'm not about to change my ways now! Saturday's 26mi run ties for my longest training run ever!
As Sarah, Levi and I started out on our run, my legs felt heavy and tired. My full hydration pack only added to the heaviness and left me wondering if I'd be able to reach my 25mi goal. But just like the first 5 minutes of a KU basketball game, I've learned not to judge the rest of a long run by the first 5 miles. Slogging through a terribly sloppy section of new trail in the first mile, I suddenly shouted in pain as I got whipped by some loose branch or root. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a long vine covered in sharp thorns. I cursed the vine, recalling that I'd been attacked in a similar manner just a few days before. It was probably this very same menace. I soon forgot about the abuse as we carried on, until Levi pointed out that I was bleeding. Thanks Levi! The forgotten sting crept back into my consciousness.
Along the way, we met someone new - a runner from Olathe training for the Free State 40 miler. It turns out Jonathan is in charge of coordinating a new social media effort at Black and Veatch. There was much discussion of Twitter, Facebook, and the challenges of combining work with social media. The enjoyment of chatting with friends and meeting a new one took my mind off my tired legs.
We only stopped for a minute at Land's End to allow everyone time to grab a bite to eat then continued on. Levi mentioned that he might cut his run to 20. I considered it for a moment but soon abandoned the thought, having my heart set on running Cactus Ridge - a section I hadn't run in almost a year. Before I knew it, my legs had loosened up, or perhaps I had just stopped thinking about them.
Along the way, Jonathan told us an inspirational story about his battle with cancer. He was diagnosed at the age of 34, recovered, and ran his first marathon five years later. But before we knew it, Jonathan had to turn back and head home to KC.
After Levi turned back at 12, it was just Sarah and me. I was thankful for having a running partner, because I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. I'd been struggling with this issue for several days so was expecting it to crop up at some point during the run. It was nice to have someone to talk to and take my mind off the ickiness. Instead of going back on the blue trail and running Sander's mound to add some mileage, we decided to take white back so we would run into the group that started later and avoid having to run the mound.
We ran into Nick, Gary, Harvey and Tim between 15 and 16mi. Harvey and Tim came to preview a 25mi loop of the Hawk 50 course. During our brief discussion, we discovered the thorny vine of death had attacked Nick as well. I decided the vine would have to pay on the way back.
As the wind picked up, we decided it was time to part ways to avoid getting too chilled. The temperature cycled up and down frequently as the wind would pick up or die down. The gloves came on and off constantly. I should actually say "glove". When I reached the parking lot earlier in the morning, I found a single glove in my purse. I decided to bring it along, alternating it between my left and right hands, so that neither one got too cold.
The last several miles was rough for both of us. Sarah was understandably exhausted after two weeks worth of consecutive running days. She's super studly. I was trying to keep my tummy under control, warning Sarah that I might barf before the end of the run, but promising not to barf on her. My knees, ankles and feet were beginning to ache. Traveling over rocky sections, I stepped gingerly. My shoulders and neck were expressing their strong displeasure with carrying around the hydration pack all day. Despite the pain and exhaustion, I approached the last sloppy mile with glee.