Training in Real Swing.
It was hot this weekend. Hell, it’s still hot now. But as we pass through the month of July, heat or not, I have to get running if I’m going to be ready for a marathon at the end of October. Our training plan feels good, and we’re sticking to it so far. This weekend called for 13 miles on Saturday, and 3 on Sunday.
We went out early Saturday morning because it was supposed to be a hot day. And it was. I took my new CamelBak 2L “Marathoner” vest. It’s a good item, holds a decent amount of water, and has easily accessible pouches in front for chews, a phone, etc. The rear pouch is also reachable while running if your shoulders are flexible. The front pouches will even hold additional 20oz water bottles if you need more water.
And I will. At the 9 mile mark I stopped at a little kiosk and added about 12 oz of water to the bladder, and even then I drank it dry. By the end of the run, it was about 85 degrees and it was very humid the whole time. And we were done by 9:45. We actually ran 14.06 miles, because we missed the turnaround marker, which was covered in Kudzu. Which makes this the second longest run of my life, and only missed the longest by three tenths of a mile.
Sunday we did a 3.37 mile “recovery” run, which was actually pretty hard. We ran later in the morning, which meant it was hotter, up around 90, and again very humid. And the route had a couple of hilly bits, including a half mile long 5% grade up. But it was a good run. Our pace was slow both days, but I’m not worried about pace.
Right now, in the horrible heat and the long runs, we’re running between 10:20 and 10:50 miles. When it’s cooler, we’ll be going around a minute per mile faster, maybe more. My hope for Race Day is something like 10:30 overall. Though, I maintain it’s not about pace. It’s just about finishing. It’s always just about finishing.
I am starting to try to come around to a new way of thinking about myself. As I run further and further, I am reframing how I see my life and where I stand in it. I’ve been a lot of things in my life, if only in just my own eyes. A nerd, a genius, a student, an idiot, a skinny kid, a fat kid, a traveler, a grad student, a grad student, a grad student, a drunk, a smoker, an engineer, a scientist, a husband, a step-father, a divorcé, a failure, a success, a quitter, and now, a sober person, and a professional. I’m still evolving. And I think I’m adding something to that list.
A recreational endurance athlete.
It makes me tear up just typing those words. I was a fat, drunk, smoker only seven and a half years ago. I was a fat smoker only six years ago. And I was still obese only four years ago. I am still overweight right now, as I sit here typing. But running has awakened something in me that seems to encapsulate many other things and experiences in my life. I am moving forward. It is often painful. Tiring. Imperceptible. But I move forward.
The idea that the word “athlete” applies to me is frankly absurd. I’m a loser, and a fool, and a drunk, and a fat man. And yet here I am, someone who runs miles and miles without stopping. For two and a half hours, Saturday morning, with my partner by my side, I ran. And ran. And ran. Pausing only once to add water to my pack. I am beginning to feel like an athlete. Not because I’m gifted, athletically. I’m not. My coordination is poor, I’m not fast. But because I can do things that are difficult. That many people won’t do.
I have a long way left to go. I am not yet where I want to be. I haven’t gone as far as I can go. With my own, slow, plodding intention, I am going to run from this place to wherever I can find myself. A long way off yet. I have a horizon to chase.