July 27, 2008

I was supposed to run 8 miles yesterday.

But I didn’t.

I was up at 5:30 to eat my pre-run carbs, pack the 3 G’s (GU, Garmin, and Gatorade), and get dressed for the run. I met my carpool buddy with 5 minutes to spare, and we left on time for the 1-hour ride over the hill. My carpooler was planning a longer run than I was, and she needed to start her run at 8 am. Since I was only doing 8 miles, my run would start 30 minutes later. I checked in for 8 miles and lined up for my 8:30 start, looking for my usual running buddies in the crowd.

Pre-run Pep Talk

I didn’t find any of my similarly-paced-half-marathon-training buddies and feared I would have to run solo, unable to keep up with the faster-paced marathon-training runners. But I plodded along, at a 4:1 ratio (4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking), trying to keep up with the gang. Eventually I dropped back and began to run at more comfortable pace. I wanted to take it easy, knowing that the last time I ran here sucked Armenian yak.

Recently, I haven’t logged many longish runs. In fact, the last time I ran more than 6 miles was back in June, so I knew 8 would be a chore. I kept my thoughts positive, convincing myself that even though my last run here was utterly craptastic, I’d erase those bad memories with good ones today. I ran down the dirt trail lined by redwood trees. The air was clean and my lungs were thankful to be out of the city.

Waddell Creek Trail

I met someone from my pace group at the water stop, about 2 miles in. She had actually started her run with my carpooler’s group at 8, but accidentally took a detour, and wound up at the beloved water stop the same time as I did. We started chatting, and she asked if I would run with her because we go at about the same pace. She was planning on running 12 miles, but she said she’d stick with me until my 4-mile turnaround point and then she’d keep going ahead. I was happy to have a running companion even if it was for only a couple of miles because it is so much more enjoyable with someone to talk to. And it was. We run well together. She’s chatty and so am I so the time went by quickly. I was having an awesomely good run. It was, in fact, easy. I felt great, and because I was enjoying myself so much, I noticed this time that the scenery was gorgeous.


We reached the 4-mile mark in no time and it seemed effortless. This was my turnaround point for the 8-mile loop. But I told my running mate that I would go to the 5-mile turnaround and increase my run 10 miles. What the hell? Ten, schmen. That’s just 2 more than 8…I could do it.

As we approached the 5-mile turnaround, most runners flew past it to go all the way to the 6-mile turnaround that boasted a beautiful waterfall. I wondered if there really was a waterfall, or if it was all a ruse by the TNT coaches to get us to go an extra 2 miles. Even at the 5-mile mark, I still felt great. I thought about those people I am running for and thought about what they endure when going through treatments. They don’t have the luxury of getting up and going for a run while suffering from extreme fatigue, nausea, and pain. They fight and go through hell until they reach their goal – a cure. And if they’re to do 12 months of chemo, they don’t say, “Oh, I think I’ll just do 8 months and then stop.” They go all the way. I could not complain about having to run. I chose to do this running business. Cancer patients did not choose to get cancer. Cancer chose them. (And cancer is an asshole.) And knowing I’d be logging 10 anyway…well…what’s 2 more? “Sure, I’ll go 12 with you!” I told my running buddy. And so I went.

So, yeah. I did not run 8 miles yesterday. I ran 12. And this was the payoff, courtesy of Mother Nature:


Beautiful, yes? And the sound of it. So soothing. Being there in the midst of such fabulous beauty, hidden 6 miles from the ocean where we started, I felt lucky to live where I do. Lucky to be able to stand on my two feet and run to this gorgeous setting.

We turned around and finished our last 6 miles. And after we’d completed all 12, we rolled up the legs of our pants as high as we could, and walked into the ocean. The Pacific is not warm in Santa Cruz like it is in Maui. A frigid 55 degrees of water as my ice bath to ensure I’d be able to walk today. And it worked. A little too well. The plan was to walk in just thigh-deep, but the waves had other plans. They pummeled smacked me past my waist. I was drenched up to my sports bra and I was freezing. Did I mention I didn’t bring a change of pants? I did have a sweatshirt though, so I peeled off my shirt on the beach for all the world to see and snuggled in my warm fleece. I drove home sitting on a towel.

Oh, another benefit to running 12 miles? I burned 1,200 calories. Do you know how many beers that is? It’s like a lot.

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