Today I did something I haven't done for over six years: I ran for three hours.
Anyone who has been kind enough to read my past mishaps
about my running experiments will understand that today's run was no small accomplishment. I'm not patting myself on the back here, but time and time again I tried to build my
endurance through an algebra of time, frequency and effort
only to have that equation fail. The only results returned
consisted of rest, ice and anti-inflammatories.
I did a two-hour last week and a two-and-a-half-hour two
weeks before so I figured I could push ahead on the time
Last night I stayed up too late, slept through my alarm,
and therefore got a late start. Here in central Florida we adhere to the "before 7/after 7" rule. My watch flipped to 7:00 as I holstered two frozen waterbottles to my waist and went out the door, hopeful that my slow pace and shady route would lessen the affects of breaking the rule.
I felt terrific for most of the run -- waving to neighbors, smiling to children in strollers, nodding to my fellow runners and walkers. In fact, I ran the first two hours faster than I had recently done. A relaxed pace and drinking water every 18 minutes kept the heavy wet blankets of heat and humidity away.
Or so I thought.
At the 2:10 mark, someone exchanged my legs for a pair of
waterlogged tree trunks. They also put lead in my shoes and
coated the soles with tar. I looked around for this person,
but found no one. I shuffled on.
A cute brunette in a white Lexus pulled up next to me as I looped a calm lake in a residential area.
"You're still running?" she said. "I saw you a couple of
True. She was one of the fellow runners I had nodded to earlier. Suddenly it seemed like a long time ago.
"Are you running a marathon?"
"Nope," I said. "Just going for a nice long run."
White Lexus rolled next to me. I felt her cool bright air seep from her open window. "Wow -- I've been home, showered, changed and had breakfast this whole time while you've been running."
Breakfast. The word turned my stomach in to a howling
She drove off and I continued slogging. Every so often I
would pick it up a bit, trying to spur my legs on like a spent horse. It never lasted long.
The rest of the run was uneventful. My bad patch lasted only about 25 minutes, and I was able to resume a somewhat perkier pace, but I was now well behind schedule -- no negative split today. I had emptied my water bottles by both drinking and pouring over my head. Luckily, a woman watering her lawn was gracious enough to fill them for me and then spray me with the hose, making sure my feet did not get wet. What an angel.
"I'm a runner too," she said. "And it's brutal today."
Ten minutes later, my watch flipped to 3:00:00. I walked
and pumped my arms -- the longest I had run in year. And I
still had a couple of miles left. No time to get too congradulatory.
Up ahead on the sidewalk a woman walked. As I got closer, I noticed that she did so with a slight limp. Even closer, I saw that her whole right side was weak, as if she had suffered a stroke. Then she stopped. She began clapping. Nodding to me, her face sagging and expressionless behind thick glasses, she clapped faster.
"Thank you," I said. "Thank you."
She kept clapping as I passed her and then stopped and
continued walking. Any shred of self-pity I may have had for feeling puny during my run I buried in a final push.
Minutes later, White Lexus drove past again, her soft motor humming down her window and shouting, "I can't believe it! You're the Energizer Bunny!"
I stopped my watch in my driveway. 3:19:08. A distance PR for the last six years. Celebrations included jumping in my pool, a breakfast of fruit, cereal and waffles and a nap between World Cup games.
Whether I'll continue to run longer than this, I don't
know. Three hours fits nicely in to a weekend morning. I
just need to make sure I get on the road well before 7 a.m.