Know what I’d do if I had a million dollars? Two Gu’s at the same time.
This thought, which occurred to me after consuming — wait for it — two Gu’s at the same time sometime after the 10-mile mark of my long-planned 20-miler this morning, carried me through a good two miles of my run. These were an important two miles, as my crazy, “I’m eatin’ two of these bad boys” moment came moments after my trusty Nike-plus for my iPod randomly stopped, then erased all my previous workouts. This includes the 10-ish miles I had just run, including my exact distance, time and pace. Since I was improvising a version of the Marine Corps Marathon course to get familiar with the route I’ll be running Oct. 25, it was really, really important that I keep an eye on my mileage, which made my Nike-plus really, really crucial.
So. Two Gu’s at the same time, and a butchered quote from “Office Space,” and I was on my way again. Luckily, the Nike-plus worked, as did my iPod, so I just started a new workout, and vowed to run 10 miles from that point to make sure I wasn’t shortchanging myself on the only 20-miler I’ll be running. I’m pretty sure I was closer to 11 than 10 when the iPod malfunction occurred, but better to be safe, right?
Other than that unfortunate moment, I had a truly amazing long run. I Metroed over to Rosslyn after a Luna bar and a few sips of coffee, armed with a plastic baggie with my iPod, ID, credit card, route map and cell phone, plus a big bottle of PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast (thank you, Marine Corps Marathon, for choosing a blue-flavored sports drink for the course. They’re my favorite!).
I set out around 8 a.m., checking my course map and Nike-plus intently to make sure I ran the right distance on Lee Highway. I almost immediately failed at following simple directions, adding about a mile total to the route on the unlovely, hilly Lee Highway. Oops … My main take-away from this portion of the course is that I will NOT have to worry about holding back, pace-wise. The hills are going to take care of that for me, and I’ll be lucky if I can hold even the conservative pace I’m shooting for.
Things got lots better as I crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown, where adorable brick homes worth more than my entire family’s life savings distracted me from the slight uphill on the way out. And that downhill on the way back! Whee! I’ll definitely appreciate that on race day.
My iPod malfunction occurred while running out to Hains Point, through a gorgeous park bordering the Potomac River with flat, runner-friendly roads and tons of trees just on the cusp of changing color. But I was thrown by the iPod mishap, feeling tired at the halfway point of a long run, and starting thinking about how on race day, this part will feel very, very lonely. I may or may not have whimpered out loud at the realization that I had three miles to go before heading back into downtown D.C.
Then, I glanced at the street sign: Ohio Drive. My inner monologue: Ohio Drive! Sarah is from Ohio! She can run fast marathons! I can, too! Right? Right! Heh! Heh, heh, heh!
My imagined serendipity continued as I headed up toward the memorials and the monument. Remember those summer-reading drives in which Pizza Hut promised a personal pan pizza to whoever read five, or 10, or however many books? I never got a pizza. Not because didn’t read enough. Sweet little dweeb that I was, I would read 30 to 40 books in a summer. Show me the sweet, dweeby second-grader who will admit to that?
I mention this so you know just how awesome it was to see the National Book Festival, with dozens of booths of authors and banners exclaiming, “Books!” on the National Mall. It felt like a personal shout-out, especially since the theme-color is purple — my favorite. “This one’s for you, Dweeby McGee,” I told myself as I picked up the pace.
Here’s the cool thing: I kept on picking up the pace. I managed the first 10 or 11 miles at something like 9:30-minute miles, and stayed relatively steady throughout. I slowed down a bit when I was trying to find my way from Potomac Park to the National Mall, but once I was on the Mall, I picked it up a few seconds per mile, finally ending at mile 20 (or 21? Who knows?) with an 8-minute mile.
I picked up the Red Line Metro to head home to Silver Spring at Gallery Place-Chinatown. Why did I weave around to this particular spot? Because there’s a Starbucks right next to the Metro stop, and I started thinking about a Vivanno for the ride home as soon as the 13-mile mark. A bonus: When I walked in, sweaty, dirty and bedraggled, the barista said, “Wow! You must’ve had quite a workout!” When I told her I had just ran 20 miles, she, after confirming that I did this all in one run, seemed genuinely floored. “I have a lot of respect for you for being able to do that,” she said. Awww.
I don’t know my final time (thanks, Nike-plus), or my overall pace. I just know the run felt great, that I stayed close to 9:30-minute mile pace the whole time, that I finished much faster than I started and that I ran more than 20 miles, maybe as many as 21. And, most importantly, the IT band that was acting up in the beginning of this training cycle was the absolute least of my problems, and has continued to behave through a delightful afternoon of watching college football on the couch, with my husband and my nachos by my side.
Stay tuned … the best long-run playlist in existence is on the way. Again, if anyone knows how to copy the text of an iTunes playlist to another document, I’ll post it, like, now.