For the last few weeks, I’ve been practicing hard-core rest, as suggested by Deena Kastor on an AMR podcast a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t call it outright sloth, mind. I have run since the Empire State Half, just not with any sense of purpose or agenda. It’s been the running equivalent of a meander, truth be told, and it has been delightful. The only downside is that I’m developing quite a backlog of podcasts because I’m not out pounding the pavement for hours and hours each week.
My last really long run post-half was all of seven miles a couple of Saturdays ago. I didn’t really feel like I deserved my ice cold chocolate milk afterwards but forced myself to drink it anyway because I don’t like waste. And, um, love chocolate milk.
Last weekend, my long run was only four miles, which is, like, nothing after going through half-marathon training. But the circumstances around the run were absolutely divine. My knitting/running friend Lisa and I were at the Knitter's Review Retreat in Canandaigua, New York. It’s an event that I long for every year. They are my carrot. Seriously. While three days with knitters might not be your kettle of tea, those days are precious to me. Plus, there are classes and meals and yarn and so very much laughing.
Anyhoo, Lisa and I have made a tradition of going for a Saturday afternoon run during the retreat. Last year we were cheered on by yellow school buses full of high school kids who were likely returning from some sort of football game, rather than sent by the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce to make us feel good.
This year, there weren’t any ebullient teens, which was slightly disappointing, but Lisa and I chatted about just about everything, including picking out the houses we were running past that we would also like to own. You know, like you do.
And we also talked about the crazy idea one Dimity McDowell Davis — maybe you’ve heard of her? — had dropped in my ear not minutes before Lisa and I left for our four miler. How would I like to run half of the Philly marathon?
You know the backstory by now. Dimity is not genetically blessed in the foot department, etc. I ran a half not that long ago and am still relatively trained, despite my slacking. I was planning to go down to Philadelphia that weekend anyway to get some facetime with the head mother runners as well as visit with friends I have in the area. Dim’s idea was a sound one.
But, even at my most fit, a half marathon is a big ol’ challenge for me. Plus, I’d have to drive myself home right after the race, which is four-ish hours with a tired bod. Plus, I’m really flipping slow. And, having never coached someone through a race, why on earth did I think I had the knowledge and chutzpah to do so?
I spilled all of this out on Lisa, who seemed to think my doing it was a foregone conclusion and was merely trying to talk myself out of a little extra work. When I got home the next day, I ran it past the spouse, who was already on tap for kid patrol that weekend since I was planning to drive to Philly anyway.
“Are you sure you want to run another 13 miles?” he said.
“Want? No. But …”
Shortly after that I called Our Dimity back and said yes — but that it would probably be better if I did the first leg because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough moxie after Mile 12 to really help someone who was on her Mile 25 and totally over it. My skill, such as it is, is to be a boat ancho at the start. For that first 13 miles, all I need to do is keep Kelly from going out to fast. Challenge accepted.
I’m not terribly certain how to train for the rest of the week leading up to next Sunday’s race. I figure I’ll do eight miles on Saturday’s long run (and try to do most of it using Kelly’s 5/1 interval pattern so that I can get it into my legs) and hope that’s good enough. Can I call the last month a really, really long taper? Or is there something else I should do? Thoughts, Mother Runner Tribe?