Upon returning from vacation, I looked forward to running the roads of New Hampshire once again. When I was in Florida, it was easier to run on the treadmill overlooking the pool area than it was to go outside. We did try it once and just kept running around the Hard Rock Hotel. Not exactly paradise if you ask me (all the good stuff is INSIDE). I'd rather scope out the waterfall and people watch.
So, no more hotel fitness center. No more treadmill.
I ran a good 13 miler outside the Sunday after I got back, which felt great. In exactly one week from that day, the "Vermont Three" would tackle their next running adventure: The 31st Annual Stu's 30K Road Race in Clinton, MA. For those that aren't familiar with the kilometer to mile ratio, 30K equals 18.6 miles. It's kind of random to us, but makes perfect sense to the rest of the world. This would be my longest run since I did the Philadelphia Marathon last November.
John and Ted were brand new to this wonderful (slightly sarcastic here) run, which was listed as being a "very hilly loop on paved roads around Wachusett reservoir". Doesn't that sound FUN??? Don't you just want to go out and run that sucker???
I didn't think so.
But, for some reason, we did. Particularly me. I think entering this race was my idea. And I'll tell you why.
You see, I had run this race before.
My friend, Jeremy, was training for his 2nd marathon back in 2007 (and, incidentally, it was the Boston Marathon). He had heard about this race and figured it would be a good training run. 18.6 miles in early March is right on target for those training for Boston, which usually falls on the 3rd Monday in April. He and I had become friends and training partners, both in the gym lifting weights and running outdoors. We pretty much did all of our workouts together. So, when he asked if I was interested in doing this race with him, I sorta shrugged my shoulders and said, "eh, sure, why not??" I hadn't done anything longer than a 16 mile run at that point in my life, so, really, Stu's was MY marathon.
When I ran it the first time, I had absolutely no expectations. I really didn't have a time goal, since this was the furthest I had ever gone. So, I had nothing to lose. To me, it was just a long run and quality time with a friend. Now, I didn't really expect to stay with him the whole time since he was a bit faster than me, but I figured we'd at least do the first few miles together.
We drove the 60-70 minutes to Clinton, registered, lined up and took off. I was running with Jeremy and my friend, Marc, who was training for a half-marathon (it was to be his longest run ever as well). Marc happened to live the next town over from where we were running, so it was like having your own personal tour guide. The three of us stuck together for at least the first 6 or 7 miles and then, gradually, we all broke away from each other.
I get to mile 12 and am ASTOUNDED at how good I feel. Seriously. I think I was getting better as I ran further. The next two miles I felt like superwoman (must be those crazy endorphins everyone keeps talking about). And then, in the distance, I saw a familiar figure. I got closer and...lo and behold...it was Jeremy! He hears my footsteps, turns around and says, "where the hell did you come from???" It was classic. I didn't plan on trying to keep up with him; it just sort of worked out that way. Basically, I lost him on the uphills, but I caught him on the downhills (I'm pretty good when I am going with gravity).
We did the whole back and forth thing with each other from about mile 14 to the finish. He crossed the finish line with a time of 2:38:17. I followed shortly thereafter with a time of 2:38:22. I couldn't BELIEVE it! I was amazed at how well I had run.
One thing I must mention before I leave 2007 and go back to 2010.
Jeremy has a flair for the dramatic.
I've done lots of races with him, so I have experience with this.
He pushes himself so hard towards the end, he throws himself on the ground after crossing the finish line. I've seen him do this many, many, many times. It doesn't matter if it's a 5K or a 30K.
Right in the grass.
So, of course, when he did this at Stu's, I wasn't worried in the least, since I knew this was in his repertoire. I just did what I always did; walked over to where he collapsed, took his hand and started talking to him.
Now, just because I KNEW he was okay, doesn't mean the volunteers at Stu's 30K did.
As you can imagine, more than ONE person came over to us asking if my friend needed medical assistance. Ah, that Jeremy is a card.
Now, fast forward to 2010.
I had SUCH a good experience doing this race the first time, it made me want to run it again. I couldn't really explain why I did so well at a race that people describe as "gutwrenching, hilly and brutal", but, well, I had. Why Boston Prep inspired a different reaction in me, I didn't know. I mean, after all it was SHORTER than Stu's.
We were doing it. John, Ted, and me. Stu's 30K on March 7, 2010. Bring it ON!!!!