This past weekend, the number 11 appeared on my NYC Half Marathon training schedule, and to be honest I ignored it. The thought of having to do another long run on the treadmill was enough to break my tiny little mind, so I instead focused on other things like nail polish and cat videos on YouTube.
But unfortunately, I had to face the music and run. On Friday, I pinged my friend Tina to see what her weekend training plans were and lucked out – she had 7 miles on tap, and was down for running together. Hooray! Having runner friends is great for a number of reasons, the first one being that you’re guaranteed a running partner if you’re both training for races at the same time 🙂
Instead of doing slippery laps around a small town, we took our run to the relatively ice-free stretches of boardwalk and beach road starting in West Long Branch. I mapped out a route that would give us 7 miles together and planned on doubling back for the other 4 on my own after that.
Sunday morning felt almost like race day! I woke up early, fueled up, taped my knees while the cat tried to eat the tape, and set off. The sky was overcast and it was a crisp 25-ish degrees – and even though 11 miles meant more than 2 hours outside, knowing I had a friend to keep me company made it less “Ugh, I don’t want to do this” and more “Yay, I can’t wait to do this!” The fact that she drove almost an hour to run with me also helped keep me accountable: I’d be a pretty crappy friend if I set up this whole thing only to wimp out at mile 4!!
After snapping a few “good morning, Atlantic Ocean” pics, we met up and set off north for about a mile. We had a blast warming up and catching up!
That is, until we turned at the first mile to head back south for the next 1.5 miles, and got smacked right in the face with a nasty headwind. We slowed down and trudged through the wind all the way down to Deal, and finally spun around. I still felt sluggish and slow, but instead of sinking into the despair that comes with solo running and being trapped in your own mind, we instead switched discussion topics and powered straight through miles 3 and 4 and found ourselves back near our cars at around mile 5.
I stopped to take a gel and grab some water from my car, stretched out my calves, and we set out for another 2 miles the same way the first half started: easy peasy for a mile, then back into the headwinds. But then we were joined by a new friend: snow! The storm wasn’t supposed to start until 2pm, but here were were 3 hours earlier, and it was coming down hard and fast.
At this point, I expected her to just join me for one mile then spin around and be on her way, but after mile 7 ticked by, she stuck around. I kept asking if she wanted to turn back around, but she said no way – and truth be told, I was so grateful! If she left, I would have turned right back around and ended my run too. Thanks, coach! 😉
We kept on moving, stopping for walk breaks here and there when my lower back cramped up slightly and the snow became too much – it was really coming down hard, and in little stinging pellets, too! My too-large neck warmer ended up being more of a snow-catcher, and froze my chin every time I picked it up to wrap it around my face, but we powered through.
At mile 9.5 we got slightly goofy and had to pose for pics:
And by the time we looped around once more to make the last mile or so, we were slipping on the fresh snow and running on the pavement in the parking lot just to get the mileage. But once I glanced down and saw how well we’d done, even with snow and nose-blowing and walking breaks, damned if I didn’t celebrate with a nice big salted caramel mocha-chino at The Turning Point once we stopped running!
So that was my character-building, snowy eleven mile run in a nutshell – how’s your training going? Are you sick of winter yet? Or do you live in a locale where I’m going to be super jealous of you when you tell me it’s still warm by you? 🙂
Just keep running…