Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode VII

Saturday, July 25

I went across the street to my brother Adam’s house just before sunup and tapped on the front window to let him know I was heading out to start the week’s long run – my first 12-miler. Not training for a full marathon himself, Adam decided to max himself out at 10 miles on the weekends, so my plan called for a two-mile loop which would bring me back to the end of our street, where he’d meet up with my for the remaining 10 miles. This marked a minor turning point: Last year, it was my brother heading out first and me joining him for the second half of his longer runs.

Adam came to his front door, pushed the Start button on his stopwatch for me, and off I went.

Heading west, I saw my favorite sort of sunrise: Through the trees, deep and rich and muted near the horizon. The kind of sunrise that always reminds me of my Dad and that Cyrkle song he liked (and which, as a result, I have a soft spot for), “Red Rubber Ball.”

I took it easy, treating these miles like a warm-up stretch. I let my mind wander, jogged a couple new streets, and by the time I met up with Adam, the sun was fully up, bright and yellow.

From here, we followed the same 10-mile loop as two weeks back.

About halfway into mile six, another not-so-monumental first: I tried one of the running gels that Jenn bought for me, since I know I’m going to have to get used to them.

No “Popeye eats-his-spinach” energy burst. No sailboat tattoos on my calves suddenly morphing into battleships. I ate the gel and washed it down with the recommended 4 ounces of water and just kept going.

As we passed the nine-mile mark, I tried to steel myself for what was coming, both in terms of a particularly long, slow straightaway with a subtle, sapping incline, and for crossing my personal frontier and then going two miles beyond it.

I distracted myself for a bit trying to figure out roughly where I’d be crossing into new mileage territory and looking for a suitable marker to mentally commemorate the occasion.

For poetry’s sake, it could’ve been around where Shelley and Keats streets intersected my run.

For symbolism, it could’ve been where I passed a particularly flat and leathery groundhog carcass, because, well, I was feeling a little like roadkill at that point.

For coolness, it could’ve been where I passed a spray-painted construction zone reminder on the pavement near the road’s edge, the all-caps fluorescent orange letters reading “UNTOUCABLE.” (Yeah, the cool factor is pretty much nullified by the misspelling.)

Somewhere in that stretch, at any rate, I put one more invisible barrier behind me.

The last mile and a half was a tough run.

For one thing, I had to finish the effort with a tiny pebble rattling around in my right shoe, pinned under my heel for a few seconds here, shifting up to the ball of my foot there. Had it happened earlier, I probably would have stopped to get rid of it, but at this point, given what it was taking just to keep jogging, I didn’t want to even think of what it would be like re-starting from a dead stop.

My lungs were surprisingly fine, but my legs were really at their limit. Outside of the final all-out pushes we usually try to do up our street, it’s been awhile since I’ve just been running and felt like I couldn’t lift my knees higher or push my stride a little longer. I was definitely there this time, though, especially during the hill climb that started mile twelve. I mined a little bit of new energy from the short downhill afterward and tried to ride gravity’s momentum for as long as I could.

I passed Adam’s mailbox – our finish line – with a total distance of 12.14 miles and a time of 1:46:30, about an 8-minute, 46-second per mile pace.

July 27, 2009 - Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , ,


  1. I think I am…super envious.

    Last week I walked a long walk, 4.7 miles (basically a small jog for you marathon trainers) and I was sore…for FOUR DAYS. It was like I had been beaten with wet towels.

    I have a silly question…what kind of shoes are you running in now? What do you plan to be running in for the marathon?

    Also, what do you think about those energy gel things?

    Did you answer my previous question about eating? Sorry if I missed it.

    Comment by Ivan | July 27, 2009 | Reply

    • Here’s the response to your eating question.

      The energy gels are, from what I’ve heard, pretty much a must-do once you’re putting in, say 10 miles or more at a time. I can say that I felt much better at the end of this past run than I did after my nine-miler a couple weeks back, though I have also been paying much more attention to eating something beforehand like peanut butter toast or a PowerBar, and even to chowing down on pasta on Friday nights. And I’ve added the water-bottle-belt to any run over seven miles.

      Ivan, you could absolutely do this. It’s all about sticking to the incremental plan, and you’d be surprised at how quickly your body adjusts and stops feeling sore after the short and mid-range runs.

      I’m running on a pair of Adidas (they’re either specifically for running or cross-training if I recall, because they are fantastically light and springy but have great support) that I got in May 2008, and they’re holding up extremely well, so I’m planning on keeping them at least through this marathon.

      Comment by jrbooth | July 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow…….When you hit 30 can run down, work, and I will drive you home….

    Comment by Pam | July 31, 2009 | Reply

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