My commute is about 17 miles. I could’ve run to work today. I ran 18. (I guess I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten home from work, but that is not the point.)
Last night, I was so nervous about the run, though. I got everything together before bed. I had one foot under the covers when I thought I better go downstairs to make sure AJ II (my Garmin) was charged. I plugged it in and it was. Phew. I unplugged it and set it with my other things. Off to bed…early.
At 6, I was up. The plan was for me to start running at 7 on the Cedar River Trail and meet up with my friend from high school, Jamie, about two hours and 45 minutes after that (14 miles) at our designated spot (the parking lot).
I was almost ready at 6:30, about 10 minutes before I needed to leave. I picked up my watch and…why is it already on?
So sometimes when I unplug AJ II from the computer, it automatically turns on. This is not usually a problem, as it makes a noise and I simply turn it off. I don’t know why I didn’t hear the beeps last night, but I didn’t, and it was on all freakin’ night.
I was really mad. I plugged it in hoping it would charge really fast, but that wasn’t happening. After 15 minutes, I accepted that I would have to start my run later than I wanted to. I let Jamie know. And I sat. I checked the watch display every 1-2 minutes. Always, “Charging in Progress.”
At 7, I put my stuff in the car and remembered that Mr. T’s phone charger was the same as my Garmin charger. So I went back inside, got AJ II and plugged him in in the car. I kept checking the display as I made my way down the highway in Mr. T’s black Malibu. The road runs next to the Cedar River Trail and I also watched the miles to see where my 7-mile turn-around spot would be. I really didn’t want it to be past a certain point.
I didn’t want to have to cross a Cedar Grove Road. Crossing that road would mean I would be closer to home than the where the car was parked. Well, maybe not, but it would feel that way and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle that mentally. Fortunately, based on my car calculation and past Cedar River Trail running experience, I was 99 percent sure I would not have to cross Cedar Grove Road.
I got to the parking lot where I would meet Jamie at 14 miles and I continued to wait for the Garmin. Finally, I decided that at 7:30, I would just go. That would be about an hour of charging and I figured if the watch could be on all night and not die that an hour should be enough juice to last 18 miles.
I put on my Amphipod belt with four pods of water and the bigger pocket, which held my Zune, my license, my debit card, my Burt’s Bees, a mint chocolate GU and a vanilla GU, and my keys. It was heavy and I was unsure how it feel running. I put my phone in my arm band. At last I was off.
Immediately, I was surprised at how well my belt stayed put and how quickly I got used to the extra weight. The larger pocket did not bounce around either, so I was relieved. Like usual, I had to mess with my right earbud for 5 minutes to get it to stay in (I tuck the left one under the strap of my sportsbra — I’m a one-bud runner).
I saw a cute bunny and I stopped to take his picture. He stopped eating to say, “Cheese!”
And then…I had to pee. I wasn’t even one mile in. I went 3 times before I left! Luckily, there’s a pretty decent public restroom at about 1 mile.
After that I was running again and enjoying myself. I took some more pictures (I won’t bore you with all of them). Everything was so green and fresh. The asphalt was was wet, the leaves had leftover raindrops clinging to them. It was beautiful. I listened to my party-girl music in my right ear and the Cedar River in my left. Then I crossed over on the bridge.
Even though I’ve run this trail many times now, today was different. I was going to run 18 miles! But first, I had to get through 14. Just 7 out and 7 back and then you’ll meet up with Jamie and do the last 4. I kept telling myself that: 7 out and 7 back. Just 14. For some reason, 14 was easier to digest.
I passed the parking lot where I normally choose to start and the usual cricket game was going on. Every weekend, there are cricket matches at this park. I always want to take a picture, but I’m shy about photographing people, you know, without their permission. I watched them play as I passed and it was comforting.
And just a little ways further was the spot where Zoë and I ran into LB on his first 18-mile run. That memory made me smile and I thought, Why didn’t we just do the rest of our run with him? Duh! Here we all are back in November 2009:
Not long after that, my “new” music began to play on the Zune. I made a new playlist for this run and put a wider variety tunes on it. This helped tremendously. I think I will make a new playlist for every long run. I listened to Souxsie and the Banshees Hong Kong Garden and I let my mind wander. But then the slugs started showing up.
Big slugs. They were everywhere and I had to weave in and out of them because a) I didn’t want to kill them (even though, I’m totally okay with that if they are eating Mr. T’s lettuce in the garden), and b) I didn’t want to slip on one. Some of them were huge! Then I made a game out of it.
I wanted to find the biggest one so I could take a picture of it next to my tube of Burt’s Bees (you know, for a size reference). I saw a big slug dude, but I kept running. I was almost to my turn-around and thought there was no way he’d be done crossing the trail by the time I turned around and came back. He’s a slug.
I turned at 7 miles and was so happy. I’ve never been so happy on a long run before. The first 7 miles seemed to fly by. In fact, I don’t even remembering hearing some of the songs on my playlist. That’s how much my mind was just wandering, or thinking about slugs maybe. And dandelions.
I saw these and thought of T Junior. He likes dandelions.
Then I got back to my slugs until I spotted that same big dude. I stopped. Checked both directions to make sure nobody was coming because I was about to look like a big dork taking a picture of a slug next to my lip balm.
Got him! But when I went to pick up the tube, I bumped it and it rolled and stuck on the slug’s side. He was probably like, “WTF?” I was like, “Gross!” And I wiped it on my leg, then stuck it back in my pack and got running…for a few seconds anyway.
Ever have that feeling that someone is watching you? Well, I did and I looked up and saw a deer standing in the tall green weeds on the right side of the trail just staring at me.
Not again! (Read here.)
Immediately, I looked for antlers and was happy that there were not any. Yes, she’s a doe. I made loud gibberish noises and clapped my hands to scare her away.
Instead, she came out onto the trail.
Then out loud, I said, “Yeah, I was not calling you. Go away! Shoo!”
She turned and came toward me. Yikes. I was a little frightened, but I also wanted to hug her. She was so pretty and gentle looking. Then she went toward the spot where she came from and stopped. I continued to make loud noises and shoo her away. Finally, I just decided to move forward and see what she did. At the last second, she lept into the trees as I ran by less than 3 feet away.
So much wilderness today, I thought. Bunnies, slugs, deer! And I had been noticing a lot of pretty birds, too. One was black with big red spots on his sides.
I was at about 8 miles already and couldn’t believe how quickly it was going by. I also started to speed up, but not on purpose. I wanted to stay around 11:30s, which was easy to do for those first 7 miles, but now I felt really good and my legs wanted to go faster. I kept looking down and seeing sub-11s. I slowed myself down over and over again.
And then I was passing by the spot where we say LB, then the cricket game again, then over the bridge. I got a text from Jamie that she was at the parking lot. I was only a mile away! I had to stop and use the potty again, though. I just ran a half marathon and I feel pretty good.
I made a quick pit stop then got back to running.
I was at about 13.7 when I saw two women walking a big boxer boy, and I thought of AJ and how on almost every one of my long runs or races, I see a boxer. I started thinking about AJ and how much I missed him (read here). He was a special dog. I started to cry, but I gathered myself before I reached the parking lot.
I was in the lot when my watch rang out 14 miles just feet from my car and my friend, who I have not seen (other than on Facebook) since high school! Perfect!
I gave her a stinky hug (I’m sure I was ripe) before putting my Zune away and storing two more GU packets just in case. Then we were off in the other direction. The one that goes through downtown Renton and right next to the river on a cool brick path. Here I am on a run with Heather, who introduced me to this portion of the trail, back in early November 2009:
This is the same part of the trail that ends up at the south end of Lake Washington. I was saving this way because it offered lots to look at (and listen to, apparently, because we saw this crazy jogger who was singing to his music at the top of his lungs). It worked. Here are me and Jamie at the end of the trail and our turn-around spot.
It was so awesome to have someone to run with for the last four miles! It didn’t even feel like four miles. It felt like two, maybe less. I hurt, but not bad, and having Jamie catch me up on her life, and hearing about her two little girls and how she came to be up here from California (like I was) was fun, interesting and really kept my mind off any pain.
We were a little short on mileage and had to run back in the other direction for about a half-mile, but then we were done!
She even took a picture of me attempting to look tired.
My legs were aching some, but I actually felt pretty good. Hungry? Yes. But not tired.
And that is when it occurred to me that I actually will be able to run a full marathon.