My plan was to start the run at 6 AM in Kiel. I would run to my parents' house in Plymouth (14 miles) and then run some loops in Plymouth to finish with 28 miles. It's tough to plan a route very definitively, as the weather is always up in the air (pun intended).
Friday night involved a great meal at a local restaurant with my entire family (10 adults, 6 kids) and then a gift exchange. The adults play a "white elephant" game that resulted in me winning an Eddie Bauer Survival Kit, some Vera Bradley
It ended up being a bit later of a Friday night than I had hoped, but it was worth it. When you have 3 older sisters, and they live in Portland OR, Chicago, and St. Paul, the times together are few and far between and cherished much more than some overrated sleep. Saturday morning's 5:15 alarm buzzing came very early, but I was up and eating my Chicken & Stars and trying to catch up on the water hydration...and that's a losing battle after too much Spotted Cow the night before. Despite this, I was ready to go and out the door at 6:02 AM...expecting chilly and icy conditions. I was in my screw shoes and in a couple layers of clothing. Big mistake.
It was actually about 45 degrees and raining. Yeck. Because of my screw shoes, I tried to stick to the shoulder of the road, but it was so mushy and muddy that it didn't work. So there I was, running 14 miles on roads in screw shoes. Not fun. Add in a 20 mph headwind and the kind of humidity normally reserved for just before a June thunderstorm, and I was not enjoying my running. Then my trusty iPod shuffle found The Runners Lounge podcast (I highly recommend it!) that included Nitmos, Razz, Vanilla, and Amy. It picked up my spirits...especially after the discussion transitioned from defecation (which was how I was feeling) to a Fartlek that the podcasters apparently forgot to end. I also learned that Nitmos prefers to run alone. I don't completely buy into this, though. I think he simply states he likes to run alone after finding out nobody wants to run with him. Between the flailing limbs keeping fellow runners at least a sidewalk's width away and the ill feelings he harbors for most of us (it's as if we're llamas), it sounds like about as much fun as running in the last couple days of December in Wisconsin.
Finally, after keeping an 8:55 pace for the first 14.5 miles, I arrived at my parents' house and was able to get rid of the screw shoes. Ellie had gone to yoga in the morning and met me at the 'rents house with a change of clothing and socks and shoes. Before she arrived I had announced that my run may become a 28K, instead of 28 miles. My morning run was that bad. It's amazing how clean, dry socks and non-studded shoes can change one's outlook!
Next, I ran with my sister Kathy and Bro-in-Law Mike on a 5 miler around Plymouth, trying to avoid the busy streets (yes, there ARE busy streets in a town of 8,000 people). By avoiding the traffic we were able to run in the road, which was less sloppy than the sidewalks. For a short time I tried to keep my feet dry, but eventually that proved to be pointless. The pace really slowed down at times because we literally couldn't run--the sidewalks or streets were too icey/slushy. Yuck. 5 miles, 47:42. Total: 19.5 Miles, 2:57:03.
After warming up a bit inside, it was time to head back out. My next loop involved Kathy, Ellie, and another Bro-in-Law Brian. The conditions continued to warm and worsen. The piles of snow were steaming from the heat, but it was far from sunny. In fact, visibility continued to worsen to the point it was getting a bit scary to run in the road. Oncoming cars without their lights on were heard long before they were seen. At one point we crossed a busy highway just outside of town. As we ran across, we could hear a semi coming, but couldn't see it. Not exactly a comforting feeling. At last, our 5 mile loop was complete, and the crew headed inside...
...except for me. I couldn't possible run 24.5 miles, but not finish off the full 28. So I headed back out, alone this time. I actually enjoyed finishing the challenge on my own. I had to cover 3.5 miles to finish, so I used my new toy (thanks, Ellie!)to notify me once I had run exactly 1.75 miles away, and then I turned around. I wasn't thinking straight, though, as the "out" portion of the run was almost completely downhill. Oops! I've heard that the Garmin doesn't have the elevation thing down yet, and my elevation chart seems to agree with that. Considering it was an out-back route, the line should be relatively symmetrical. Apparently, somewhere on the way back, I took the route over Teh Schmatterhorn!
Finally I was back. For the second year in a row, I was beaten up a bit by my "Birthday Run." This year, however, I was sweating like a horse in Kentucky in August (FYI, Pigs-as in 'sweating like a pig-'don't have very many sweat glands and therefore sweat very little) whereas last year I was borderline hypothermic. But the sense of accomplishment really was overwhelming. I did it! 28 Miles, 4:18:16, Avg Pace 9:13, Avg HR 150.
Among the many lessons learned were to 1)NOT run 14.5 miles on pavement with 3/8 inch hex screws in your shoes, 2) NOT plan on receiving any sort of inspirational running advice via podcast from Nitmos, Vanilla, Amy, or RazZ, 3) NOT simply plan on really long runs without holding a steady stream of training runs throughout the week. I'm starting to learn that long runs are much easier and more effective when done within a training plan. For example, if you plan on running 28 miles on a Saturday, it's a good idea to have more than 10 miles already established in that training week. The 28 miles on Saturday should probably bring your weekly total to at least 45-50, rather than 31, as it did in my case. Lesson learned, and I'll remember that as I continue to train for Chippewa.
(Other lessons learned include 1)NOT pissing off Glaven, as he'll devote an entire post (and you know how long his posts are!) to ridiculing you, and 2) NOT pissing off Marcy, as she'll say you look sexy when superimposed as a cartoon, and then follow up that 'compliment' by calling you a d*ckweed. Ouch.)
( I hope to include some pictures from my new Garmin software at some point, but I don't know how to use my "printscreen" function yet, so you'll have to check back for that. In the meantime, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO NIC!)