Even though Maine is only a five-ish hour drive from my house, I’d only been there a half-a-dozen times during the 15 years we’ve lived here. Then 2018 rolled around. During the span of a week, I packed up the Subaru for Beach to Beacon, then drove home, unloaded kids and laundry, and drove back to witness Dimity’s SwimRun on August 12.
(Because of the way the universe works, I’ll be back in Portland in a few weeks for a friend’s wedding. Maybe the fates feel like I should eat more lobster and potatoes?)
Initially, I’d planned to just loll around the Portland area during the days between B2B and the SwimRun. I haven’t had a solo vacation in, like, ever and it sounded like a hoot. Life had other plans, as it so frequently does. While the extra back-and-forth on the Mass Pike was a bummer, I did catch up on months worth of podcasts. #upside
On the way back for SwimRun, I made a small detour for an overnight at my BRF Lisa’s place in New Hampshire. We had dinner, we laughed, and we watched the Great British Baking Show (French pastry week was intense, y’all). We set our alarms for an early wake-up so that we could run the rail-trail near her house.
Lisa had seven on her plan; I had nine. I was tempted to turned around with her at mile 3.5 but I am nothing if not a rule follower. It helped that the trail itself is mostly flat and cuts through ponds and rocks and neighborhoods. It also helped that Lisa was going to get breakfast sandwiches from a local joint while I finished up my extra two miles.
PRO TIP: If you can arrange to have someone meet you at the end of a long run with egg, meat, and cheese on Texas toast, do that. Always.
I made it to Portland in time to introduce Dimity and Katie to the Holy Donut. Then had my brief volunteer orientation for SwimRun and drove a little bit back down the coast to meet up with BAMR Erica, whose living room I’d be sleeping in, who took me to her favorite ice cream shop after dinner.
For those who are wondering: Yes. I do plan trips around running and food. Why would you do otherwise?
Sunday dawned early and hauled myself from car to ferry to beach, where I waited for swimmers. Of course seeing Team #COBAMR was a thrill — but it was also a reminder that every human responds differently under pressure. No matter where they were in the pack, most teams came out of the water thrilled to simply be doing a crazy thing. A few did not have their best moments on my beach. And a couple that I would have sworn would drop out managed to pull it together enough to go on.
I channeled that same spirit during a speedy run this week in Southern New Jersey, where we visiting some friends from college. The workout called for an easy warm-up mile and an easy cool-down mile, with two at race pace in between. Calling the air “swampy” only begins to touch on how wet it was, even at 7 a.m. Because my run coincided with garbage day, it was also like swimming through a hot wall of fragrant trash soup. Woo.
From the start, I knew I couldn’t hit my race paces. No way. No how. Not even for money. But I figured I’d try, if only to show Coach Christine I was willing to give it a whirl even though I knew I was doomed.
Only that’s not what happened. Despite the heat, the humid, and the pockets of stink, I churned out my first race pace mile. Then most of another one before my brain weasels tried to get me to stop. Which is when I had to channel those SwimRunners and pull it together to keep up the pace. And I did.
I know. I was shocked, too. It’s like I might be able to do an okay job at this running thing.
This feeling will pass, likely during an easy run where everything hurts and I’m convinced I’m going to die. Still. I’m going to revel in this while I can.