"You guys running Badwater?"
Some guy rode up to us on the East Bay Bike Path where we picked it up in Warren, Rhode Island. Nik and I were doing our last long run before New Jersey next weekend. (I'm doing the half, she's doing the full.) Since the New Jersey race is by the beach and very flat, we figured we'd recreate the conditions of the event as closely as possible. We wore the Brooks Running ID uniforms they sent us and went to the East Bay Bike Path, a flat a running path as we have around here without finding a track. There were no Jerseyites with orange spray tans cheering us on, but you have to make some compromises.
The guy on the bike met us less than a tenth of a mile into a 12-miler. We'd just passed the Del's Frozen Lemonade stand that marked our starting point.
"Badwater's 135 miles through the desert!" he said. "Death Valley! It's 135 degrees!"
"I don't think so!" Nik said.
"That's a little too professional for me," I said, and we waved as he pedaled off.
New Jersey is not Badwater. It's not a 135-mile ultramarathon through Death Valley. It's a pleasant 2-loop course through Long Branch, NJ, by the water. But for some reason we're not exactly looking forward to it. We're both a little burned out from training -- we both kind of just want to run lately, not race. But we paid our money for the bibs, made the hotel reservation, got the time off work, so we have to grit our teeth and get through it. We don't expect PRs, but hell, it's another state, anyway -- somewhere new to run, some new scenery, and it's another state on the 50-state checklist.
This last long run was kind of important to me, mostly because I'd rather not go into next week's race feeling like a sucky-ass runner. Good a reason as any, right? So Nik and I took it fairly easy and enjoyed it. The weather was clear, sunny, about 60 degrees, and the bike path has beautiful views. We tried to get used to the flatness. Our normal routes around Fall River are pretty rolling. The variation is nice, and you catch a break on the downhills. When it's uber-frigging-flat, you're using the same muscles the same way, over and over.
Luckily, we have strong muscles. Strong like ox! See?
The muscles can't hold out forever, though. My goal in any half-marathon is to get through it well, to last until the end. Today, my man-muscles got me to about 8.5 or 9 miles on sheer awesomeness alone before they got too thirsty -- so I started to replenish them with some water. Around mile 10 my mouth started to get sticky. Thereafter, about every mile, I had to stop to drink. That's probably a consequence of me not hydrating enough yesterday. W.C. Fields said he never drank water, because "fish fuck in it." Don't be like him, kids. Drink your water.
But I made it to the end of the 12-miler stronger than I have ever before, with a faster pace than usual, so that's always good. I'm not expecting a PR in New Jersey (I'd have to run faster than 2:44:08), but at least I didn't suck. At least. I didn't. SUCK. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Just before the end, some guy spotted us -- almost around where the "Badwater" guy talked to us -- and said, "Just 10 more miles, you guys! You can do it!"
I told him I just ran 11 and a half. "You trying to kill me?"
Nik was fine, by the way -- these 12-milers are nothing for her. I refer you again to her photo. Strong like ox!
I always keep an emergency $10 bill in my Amphipod just in case we stop by Del's Frozen Lemonade. We conveniently started and finished our 12-miler right by the Del's in Warren.
Frozen lemonade is an awesome way to rehydrate after a long run -- and it's got sugar to keep your brain active and your mouth happy.