December 10, 2015 Healthy Living

Running Up That Hill Part VI: T-Minus Six Weeks and Counting

Welcome to Part VI of Lauren’s marathon series. Latecomer? No problem. Get to know Lauren by starting from the beginning. Or, continue on to Part VII

When I say to other people that the marathon is six weeks away, I can feel my calm face slightly losing its composure as I burst into what might be construed as maniacal laughter. We all started this intense training schedule on August 23, and with winter just a few weeks away, it seems like a break will never come. Soon enough, we will have landed in the middle of Florida, picked up our race packets, and reached what will surely be an emotional end to this journey for everyone involved.

I can safely say for the entire group that we are getting sick of running. No longer is it a pleasant experience where we catch up over funny stories about dating, spouses, work, and family craziness. Now it’s turning into silent stretches that span over long periods of time with us all wondering when the run will end already. I miss the days of training for half-marathons.

The 20-Mile Odyssey We just completed our first 20-mile run. There’s one more on the schedule that we’re all dreading, but at the same time, since it is the last 20-miler, it’s a little easier to stomach since we already have one under our belts.

Let me set the stage for why this run was particularly horrid, aside from the fact that it was 20 miles. Basically, I threw everything I should have been doing before a long run out the door to attend a fun, local event that supports a great cause with a hot date and some close friends.

My typical ritual before a long run includes chicken parm, pasta, a salad, and if it’s not too long of a run, a glass of wine. This event featured a ton of wine, great food, and some bottles of water. However, we neither hydrated nor ate nearly enough, despite my efforts to indulge in any dishes with risotto or pasta. I tried to limit my wine intake, but best laid plans, I suppose. One of the other marathoners also attended and I took it upon myself to nag and remind her that we had to run 20 miles the next morning. At the very least, I did steer clear of the cognac. I knew that it might be a slightly bad idea, but the other marathoner dove right in.

Now onto the run. We started out with seven people, knowing that two would drop off at nine miles because they’re not training for a full marathon, and that a water stop would be available. Now that winter is almost upon us, there were quite a few things we didn’t plan for. For example, every public restroom in the park where we’ve been running is now closed, which is a problem for numerous reasons. We usually meet about 35 minutes from my house. During that 35-minute drive, I drink a little water and finish up my morning tea. Running 20 miles takes somewhere around four hours, and, needless to say, a bathroom comes in handy before we start. But, that’s no longer an option. Everything I hate about camping is starting to factor into these longer runs.

This run started in Niskayuna before Lock 7 and was supposed to end in downtown Albany. At mile nine we reached Colonie Mohawk River Park. We refilled our water bottles and I made the mistake of sitting down while we got our things back in order. I wanted to die. My stomach was doing somersaults and wasn’t too pleased with what I had ingested the night before. I had my gels and gummy snacks, and they’re absolutely disgusting when all you want is a shower and some ginger ale, and a nap. Fellow trainee Meghan gave me the rest of her Gatorade and we were off again. Well, minus two and, unfortunately, minus another one. My cognac-drinking friend from the night before didn’t make it any farther than nine miles. To be fair, running nine miles is a huge accomplishment for anyone, not to mention someone who had a lot of fun the previous night thanks in part to wine, cognac, and cigars. I don’t blame her and I think the only thing stopping me from quitting at that point was knowing my car was in Albany, and that there was no way I wanted to start a 20-mile trek again the next weekend.

The Tour de Capital Region We kept running. And running. We passed through Cohoes, then Watervliet, and then we sort of got lost. Only sort of. I recognized the McDonald’s my friend managed when we had just finished up high school, so I knew the area well enough to keep heading toward Albany and my car. At mile 16, another runner went down. She was just getting over a cold and the sun was starting to dip in the sky. The temperature was also dipping and she could no longer breathe well. We made some phone calls to ensure she had a ride home and then continued on our way.

Mile 18 approached and we were still in Watervliet, only slightly lost, and heading toward Menands. As it turns out, Watervliet has a street named Broadway, as do Menands and Albany. But for whatever quirky reason, that Broadway is a completely different road in Watervliet than the aforementioned cities. I would like to speak to whomever made that decision. I’m also surprised that I’ve lived in this area almost two decades without knowing that fact.

We found a cutover to Menands and at that point I wasn’t really sure where we were. I asked Jenny, another fellow trainee, how much farther we had to go. When she said we only had one mile left, I was not the happy person you’d think I’d be. Here’s a recap of our conversation:

Me: “Jenny, what do you mean there’s only one mile left?”

Jenny: “We’ve run 19 miles; only one mile to go!”

Me: “We just got to Menands. My car is in downtown Albany. We have more than one mile.”

Jenny: “What?”

Me: “There is absolutely no way that my car is one mile from here.”

I had Jenny pull out her phone and map how far we were from my car. We were down to three runners, and the third was coming up behind us at a crawl after getting sick on the side of the road. It happens. At first, running this many miles seems disconcerting and then you realize it’s all about pushing your body to these extremes. Before you know it, you’re on the side of the road in running gear, getting sick, and thinking, why the hell did I even decide to sign up for this? All I wanted to do was drink around the world at Epcot and instead I’m in the middle of a slightly shady area with broken bottles everywhere. Not exactly what we envisioned when we committed to this full marathon business.

Jenny finally said the car was at the 22-mile mark instead of the 20. There are a million reactions anyone can have in any given situation. Jenny had already hit a wall and was barely going to make it to 20. I still had energy for whatever reason. Maybe I was fueled by my awesome date from the night before or had just the right amount of angst from a personal situation that had recently come about. Or, maybe I just love my friends and was concerned that they needed some delicious chocolate milk immediately (even though sometimes I think they’re jerks for not using a mapping tool to calculate how far we were actually supposed to run. Ahem. Jenny. Ahem.)- the chocolate milk that was sitting in my car, which was another couple of miles farther than it was supposed to be.

The thought of that disgusting Gu and the gummy chew things I’d been consuming made me sick. Since the runner who was unwell had no need for her snacks, I helped myself to some gummy bears and crackers. I stuck handfuls in my mouth and as crumbs went flying, I waved to the remaining runners, said I’d be back soon with the car, and took off.

I’ve Never Been So Glad to See My Car My mind hits a point during any long run where I turn into a dumb jock. Everything is about moving one foot in front of the other and completing the goal I’ve set. As I approached the area on Broadway where the newer bars were popping up, I smiled once I saw Druthers, because I knew that the end was near. Nine Pin is also a personal favorite and I smiled again. Even running under the Nipper dog is an amazing experience. I don’t think these places ever looked as beautiful as they did on that Saturday in the fading sunlight.

I finally made it to my car and picked up the last two ladies. We shared a chocolate milk and headed back to where our journey began. It took over 35 minutes to get back to the start, in a car, mainly on highways. That’s how far we ran that day.

I had no clue what I was getting into when I started this training or how far I would have to push myself, both physically and mentally. I also didn’t realize how much I would grow as a person or the friendships I would make along the way. We still have one more long run in a couple of weeks and if we don’t all implode by then, the worst part of prepping for this marathon will be a distant memory. And, for so many reasons, I’m grateful.

Lauren Daknis
About the Author

Lauren joined CDPHP in 2011 as an internet marketing nerd with a penchant for music, podcasts, and books. Previously, she worked as a hacker for the government, and in her spare time, was an award-winning DJ. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science from what was formerly known as SUNY IT but is now the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. That said, she is not entirely sure how to answer when asked where she went to college.

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