If Redhead Running had told me a couple of years ago that one day I would be marathon training at a ridiculous hour (4:30 a.m.) with her for a ludicrous distance (16.5 miles for me, 18 miles for her) I would have laughed her out of the room. I would have told her I'll never run that far. I would have told her that distance running like this is horrible for your body. I would have even bet my bank account against such a crazy prediction. And if I had told her she'd be running like this back in those days she would have raised her beer, laughed ME out of the room and drank!
Those predictions were never made, but Saturday morning at 3:57 a.m. the text message alert on my phone sounded off. It read, "I'm here," and when I opened my front door there stood the Redhead nearly 30-minutes early. Now that's hardcore! Her day started at 2:30 a.m. (when most of our friends are passing out from a long night of partying) to allow time for the hour drive to my house. I wasn't ready yet, but it worked out perfectly because she had a routine of stretching to do before our run. At around 4:15ish, I think, we headed out for our planned run; a 15-mile for me and an 18-mile for her.
All week I've been anxious about this run. Perhaps it's was something about the number 15. I psyched myself up in Thursday's blog post on the number. I hydrated, carb loaded and got plenty of rest on Friday. Now it's Go Time!
We start off with a slow pace to warm up. When I'm by myself I think I might start running faster sooner, but today I want to take it super easy and slow is good. I've got plenty of time until Disney and the last thing I want to do is injure myself. The run it's self is awesome. At mile 5 I'm feeling great! I quickly find the bag of water bottles and energy/electrolyte gels I stashed in the woods the night before and week each down them. It's the faster water stop on a long run I've taken yet. The Redhead told me earlier she wants to keep stops to a minimum as she's only a few weeks from her Chicago Marathon and this is one of her last few long runs. Another mile and we're on the beach. We are so early it's still dark. REALLY DARK. It's a new moon and the stars are amazing. Other than shrimp boats on the horizon and a lone beach patrol officer driving by we are alone for the next five miles. At mile 10 a little detective work is done to find the bag of water and energy gels I buried the day before and marked with a pelican feather. The Redhead finds this amusing. What was really amusing was me the day before in business clothes trying to NOT look suspicious amongst sunbathers while using a shovel to bury the water without being seen. We push on and soon the runner's high silliness kicks in gear. A song pops into the Redhead's mind after an earlier discussion about coconut juice. She starts singing a song from the Lion King:
"I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
There they are all standing in a row
Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
Give them a twist a flick of the wrist
That's what the showman said
I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
Every ball you throw will make me rich
There stands my wife, the idol of me life
Singing roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch
Roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch"
I can't help but laugh, smile and think to myself, "appropriate, I am training for the 'Disney' Marathon!"
We had a beach walker snap this shot somewhere around mile 14. Hmmm, either the Redhead is really short or I'm really tall.... or both.
We are now running the 1.5-mile loop on the boardwalk at Smyrna Dunes Park and the first hints of dawn are lighting up the horizon. It's a beautiful sight! We pass three other "serious" guy runners, several fisherman and a few surfers, but that's it and we're back on the beach again tracing our footprints back toward Flagler Avenue. The tide is getting high and the sand is soft so we switch up to pavement a little early and suddenly I realize for me there's only about a mile left to run. The shops are opening along Flagler Avenue. The Coffee House is abuzz with activity. I'm feeling a new sensation. Instead of only leg pain, which set in several miles ago, I'm feeling a loss of energy, a loss of endurance. It's like I have the will to continue running, but every part of my body is resisting in protest. The Redhead claps her hands and yells, "Let's go Sylvan, Let's go!" Now she knows what it feels like to be the motivator and NOT the one that needs end of the run motivating from the "Lazy Runner." I feel her slipping away. It doesn't feel like I'm running any slower, but I am. I struggle to keep pace. Half a mile to go and I catch up with her and proclaim that "I'm back," only to fall behind again. She mentions another blogger she knows, this guy Jamoosh, that counts hot girl's ponytails for motivation. What a great idea? I stare at the Redhead's ponytail. It bounces back and forth with the rhythm of her body. Hot! Normally I'd be in a daze, but right now my extreme fatigue is taking priority. It's like the final few minutes of Bikram Yoga when you could care less if the hottest girl in the world is next to you... all I want to do is finish! Sorry Redhead Running, I love ya, but it's just not working for me right now! At a quarter-mile to go she's a good 50 feet ahead of me and unsure where the stopping point is so I yell out directions. I want to stop, but I'm determined! I dig deep and the most random thought of motivation comes to me. I start singing Pearl Jam's "Alive." When this song was released in the early 1990s I was just a teenager and my father had just passed away. I learned this song on my guitar from beginning to end. It was such an inspiration to me at the time and somehow it's going to get me through this run!
"I, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, but, Im still alive
Yeah i, ooh, Im still alive"
Finally, at 2:30:00 we reach the 15-mile mark!!!!
It's located at a friends house where I've left my truck the night before stashed with a cooler stocked full of Gatorade, Cliff Bars, Water and the Redhead's last energy gel. She downs it and heads out for the final 3 miles. I slam a Gatorade and walk around the driveway for a good five minutes before attempting to remember how to drive my truck. I'm looped out of my head right now and it feels great!
So how did I run the 16.5 miles if the story ends here???
An interesting twist of fate all thanks to a sketchy black man in a black truck.
Yup, thank you sketchy black man! Because of you I can say my longest run ever is 16.5 miles instead of just 15!
The plan was for me to drive the truck down to the park where the Redhead would be finishing her 18-miles after one last loop around the boardwalk. I wanted to drive down and be there before she started in on the boardwalk to cheer her on, but she came running up with a look of concern on her face. Apparently, a black man in a black truck drove by her once on the main road, turned around and drove by her two more times and even honked at her before continuing on to the park. We could see the unoccupied black truck in the parking lot. I can tell the Redhead is a little freaked and I would be too if I were a female her size so I decide to run the last 1.5 miles with her around the boardwalk. I feel amazingly better on this last run with no problem finishing. With a quarter mile left I yell out the final distance and the Redhead takes off sprinting with a super strong finish. She is SOOOOO ready for the Chicago Marathon!
Overall it was a milestone run with many "firsts." It was the first time I've set out my clothes the night before a run. It was my first time stashing supplies along the route. It was the first time the Redhead and I have ever run together, let alone being around each other this time of day without being drunk, passed out or hungover. It was the first time I've run that distance in my life. It was the first I've run that early in the morning. It was my first time doing a long run on Saturday (which I might switch instead of Sundays or Mondays). It was the first time I've seen my good old friend the Redhead in more than a 1 year!
All of it rocked!
Favorite Quote of the Run: "Ya'll are going to like live a long time being all healthy and stuff... unlike me," the 7-Eleven clerk said as he took another hit from his cigarette after taking our picture in front of the 7-Eleven sign. You see, The Redhead and I have this history with 7-Eleven, being drunk and in costume. Our friends used to get dressed up in crazy outfits and walk to 7-Eleven after long nights of partying for junk food. It's ironic that years later we find ourselves at 7-eleven using the bathroom at 5 a.m. while on a long run.
At the 7-Eleven around 5 a.m. 2009
I'd like to send out a BIG THANKS to the Redhead one more time for coming over and running with me. My official time with the extra 1.5-miles added on was right at 2:45:00 (a little slow, but strong) and I doubt I could have done it without my old friend chatting it up, making it seem short, and being silly with me! I've got a long ways to go, but plenty of time to work on that distance and time!
108 Days Until the Disney Marathon!!!!
If I ever bring myself to such self torture as taking an ice bath after a long run, somebody slap me!
The Redhead taking her famous ice bath after the run. Wearing a bathing suit bottom, long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt hoodie she listens to Dropkick Murphy's music, head bangs and waits for the ice to melt. You can see the happy picture of her on her blog, but I took this one as she was hunkered down and enduring the "freeze!" Note: She also called me an A*hole for taking this picture at the time.... hahaha... Love ya Morgan!