It was our second day without rain for the past 2 weeks here in NorCal. Our first day with actual sunny, clear skies, and it was the day for my 7.33 mile long run. I had to call in the troops for back up since I felt so intimidated. Kris came to my rescue and agreed to come along on the run. We’d go out for about 3.5 miles, come back, and since we always park our car outside of the regional park (we’re too cheap to pay the $5 day use parking fee), the rest of the way to the car would be the last .33 miles, give or take.
My husband, Kris, is a runner. He ran cross country in high school and has completed the Minneapolis marathon in less time than it will probably take me to wog my half marathon. He also comes from a family of runners. I’m sure by now you’ve deduced 2 things: I jog at the same speed as he fast walks and what has taken me 6 weeks of training to get to (the 7 mile mark), he can complete on a whim.
We head out to a local reservoir park. The beginning part of the run is great, a concrete path, light hills, mix of shade and sun. An avid bird watcher even stops us around mile 1 to let us take a peek at a double-crested cormorant getting ready for mating season.
This was the best photo I could find that reflects the stunning beauty of the bird this man showed us through his telescope. The bird was perched on a submerged tree stump. Its eyes pierced, a sharp turquoise. Iridescent feathers fluffed on its back and chest. The man even explained how the markings on the beak looked like teeth, and its crests only came out for mating season; all part of a young male’s show. The birdwatcher stopped everyone who came by to share the spectacular sight. I, for one, was thrilled to oblige a quick stop to sneak a peek at the bird.
Once we reached the end of the concrete path, we clearly became outliers. With the recent rains, the now dirt path was muddy for about a 1/4 mile, plus we had to cross a bridge covering a flooded marsh. We dubbed this part of the run “the Amazon” because of its muddy and water-ridden obstacles. It was difficult to walk in this mud, so jogging was out of the question. After “the Amazon,” the rest was dry land.
We went another mile or so and came upon our half way mark, a steep hill. Pure elevated torture. At least a half mile climb, straight up. I couldn’t run it, so we climbed together. My legs wanted to fall off, and all I can remember thinking was this is only the half way mark?! What kind of insanity possessed me to wog a course with a steep half mile straight -up climb right in the middle of it? “Once we reach the top, it’s all a downhill coast from there,” Kris tried to keep me going. I kept thinking of another runner who’d passed us with a San Francisco marathon T-shirt that said “Hills make you go Higher.” Humph! Hills made we want to lay across the path and block anyone else from making the same mistake.
My feet were wet and muddy. Sweat dripped down my back and front. Saliva accumulated in my mouth, and Kris told me runners just spit it out on the path. Every step of my right foot corresponded to a moan or grunt to…just…keep…going….
Ladies do not get muddy.
Ladies do not sweat.
Ladies do not spit.
Ladies do not complain or show signs of pain.
But ladies don’t get battle scars from a grueling 7.33 mile trek.