As for "28 on 28"...we'll see :).
On Friday night Plymouth got the kind of snowfall usually saved for animated movies and snowglobes...big and fluffy, very slowly descending and landing without wind to blow it around or drift it. It resulted in each and every tree being outlined in snow so you could see every branch. Absolutely beautiful. I was tempted to take a picture of our house, with the Christmas lights still up, but never got around to it...and will probably regret that soon.
I had planned on running my 27 miles in 3 seperate runs, with breaks at our house for soup and warmth in between. The first loop consisted of a 12 mile out-and-back on Blueberry Lane, a very small but relatively hilly country road heading South out of town. It was splendid--plowed, but not salted, so the road was covered in a packed snow that wasn't all too slippery, and not at all slushy. As usual for me when it comes to pacing, I ran the early part of my day wayyy to fast. I downed a Gu and some gatorade every 30 minutes and finished in 1:38 (8:10 pace). I was hoping to keep my overall pace for the day under 9:00, and was far ahead of schedule. But it felt sooo good....
Back at our house, Ellie had warm Chicken & Stars ready for me and even had the foresight to suggest I change from my Asics to my Lafumas, with their Gore-Tex bottoms. Smart woman. However, being a man, I immediately decided against it, and kept to my Asics with my Christmas-present Gaiters over the top. Mistake number one.
Leg #2 was another out-and-back, this time on Hwy E heading North, the same route I used for Nancy's "8 on the 8th." I'm really coming to enjoy this road...rolling hills, easy mile markers (there's literally a road every mile), and little traffic. Highway E had also been plowed--and salted. This combination resulted in a sub-32 degrees melting of the road way snow. It was a slushy, snowy, watery--a slush-snow-tery mess. Less than 3 miles into my 10 mile leg, I could see the water oozing out of my shoes with every step. Ugh.
Out and back I continued, keeping my pace under 8:30 per mile until the last 3 miles, when my feet were really feeling the effects. My pace dropped off a bit down the stretch, but soon enough I was back inside the friendly confines of my house, with Chicken & Stars & Dry Socks & Lafumas & and "I told you so" waiting.
Leg number 3 was a 5 mile loop in town, and I was lucky enough to be joined by my brother-in-law, Doug, on the "victory lap."
Parsenn really wanted to join me for Leg 3...not yet, little guy. But your time is coming. He's adorable.
Doug, waiting to start Leg 3, in his custom-made "27 on 27 shirt...except that he spelled my last name WRONG...
After about 15 minutes of rest (for me and Doug--I was tired from running, he was tired from last night), off we went. I had intentionally planned to run past my parents' house in town, and then Ellie's parents' house, for "manned aid stations" consisting of beer. It was part joke, part celebration, and mostly for comedic effect. 1.5 miles into the final loop we were at my parents place, but as we approached, I could see the tell-tale sign of desertion--a snowmobile track leaving their house. I had been ditched for another wonderful winter activity. My dad was out enjoying the freshly groomed snowmobile trails, but I can't blame him.
We continued, arriving at my wife's parents' at around mile 3. There was my mother-in-law, camera in hand, waiting for us.
Some drinks of Smithwick's later, off we went. Believe it or not, I almost PR'd in the marathon this day...hitting mile 26.2 in 3:46.
Approaching Mile 25 Aid Station (Ellie's parents' house).
The last half mile took us over the Mullet River (no kidding, that's the name) and up a steep hill. Finally, arriving back home, it was time to celebrate. The aid station this time was stocked with freshly baked lasagna, ice cold water, a puppy, and ice cold New Glarus beer...my personal favorite. All in all, I finished in 3:53:50 (8:39 pace)"chip time," but if you include the "aid station" breaks taken it was about 4:30.
I did it! Parsenn was so excited, he had to pee.
Ellie's thoughts: "Did Parsenn fart, or does 27 miles smell this bad?
Earlier in the week I had emailed my family about intentions to make this a "Birthday Biathlon," with running replacing the skiing portion. I was intent on making it happen, too. So after showering Ellie and I headed out the family farm to do some trap shooting. My other bro-in-law, Curt, spent most of the morning clearing snow at the farm so we could complete the shooting portion, and then proceeded to dominate, along with Doug, the trap shooting. My personal results are something I'd like to forget...I'm by far the worst shot in the family.
Ellie and I trap shooting--part two of the "Birthday Biathlon." Man, was I bad.
Ellie thinking, "Wow, that 12-gauge recoil is something fierce!"
I have thoughts still to share on my "27 on 27," but I'm going to wait for another post. Having said that, I can't tell you the kind of fun I had. In the final .25 miles of the run, Doug and I were talking about college life and drinking--some story about a friend doing 21 shots on his 21 birthday, and I remember telling him, "I feel drunk right now." I was tired, lightheaded, and ready to be done running. It was a mixture of hypothermia and hypoglycemia (which I think of as uphoria--see 2 Cor 12:10)...or perhaps it was just me realizing how blessed I was at that particular moment. Surrounded by family, supportive of an activity I love, smiling at what I had done, and also at what the future still withheld. It makes me smile just to think of it.