It was such a relief to step out my front door on Saturday and be greeted by mid-30s temperatures for the first time in weeks. It would seem that the two-week cold snap has finally released its grip, and probably just in time too, as I was beginning to regress into a very dour mental state that involved me repeatedly questioning what the hell the Pilgrims were thinking when they decided to inhabit the inhospitable gulag that is Massachusetts winter. I felt it particularly during the hill workout this past Tuesday night--although it was a somewhat reasonable 18 degrees, it rocked me a little harder than I had anticipated and left me sore and stiff. But, heading downtown on Saturday morning, I was feeling ready and was especially pleased to see Katherine show up at Joint Ventures shortly before 8:00. I was in the mood for some company and pacing advice. We got a slightly later start while we waited for the potty line to dwindle, and in the meantime she introduced me to Morgan, who also is running for Boston Medical Center. Turns out he is 25 as well, and he confessed that he had also never run 16 miles before. The two of us sort of shrugged and exchanged a "guess we'll see what happens" look and off we went.
The scheduled course was the exact same one we've been doing every time, only plus a full lap around the reservoir on the way out. I am getting pretty bored of these stretches of Beacon and Commonwealth, but having a new running companion was a good way to shake things up. Morgan talked about how he transitioned from a music major to a religion major, and then somehow wound up doing clinical work in depression studies at BMC. He is also a Zen Buddhist. He and Katherine chatted about clinical studies and their coworkers and there was lots of doctor jargon flying around so I just listened as we wound our way around the reservoir and headed out into Newton. John had set up maybe 5 water stops for us, and we took our time at each to snag some Gatorade. I found myself hitting the Swedish Fish pretty hard, except after two chews they would solidly cement themselves into my molars and stay there for about a mile. Which was sort of a gross phenomenon, but also convenient. Our pace hovered around an 8:30, which felt slow and very sustainable. I had no intentions of pushing it as I did two weeks ago, as my body really took a beating that day.
We paused in Newton Centre at Peet's Coffee for a quick pit stop (thankfully they didn't yell at us), before moving onwards. After the cut-across to Commonwealth Avenue on Chestnut Street, which plops us midway through the Newton hills, I was pleasantly aware of how good I felt. In fact, after eating a radioactive-looking "island flavor" GU at the bottom of the 3rd hill, by the time we reached Heartbreak I could feel myself getting a bit bonkers. Katherine split from us at Coolidge Corner to run home, and so Morgan and I pushed it out together for the final mile. There is a raised overpass over the turnpike just before Kenmore Square that we have dubbed The Kenmore Hill, and seeing it appear after trotting for several hours is always most welcome.
I have to say, I did not feel as wiped as I thought I would afterwards. It's funny how my perspective of what constitutes a "long" run keeps being steadily pushed futher. My Brooks Adrenaline's have started to wear significantly on the outsole, and a trip to the South End Athletic Company the next afternoon (where they did a fascinating free gait analysis video on a treadmill and I was that irritating customer that asks a million questions) led me to buy a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires, which are slightly less clunky but will hopefully still keep my ankles from doing the tango. We'll see how they perform, and at least I know I can always switch back to the Adrenalines if they seem sketchy. Next week I will in NH skiing and will miss out on the 10-miler, but I will make up for it midweek sometime.
As I wrap this up, I want to once again thank my multitude of supporters who have been so incredibly charitable. With everyone's help, including the two most recent and unbelievably generous donations from Steve Piltch and the Shipley School, I have almost passed the $9000 mark! At this rate, I am feeling confident that I will reach my $10,000 goal by April. I am floored by the generosity of each and every one of you, and so touched by the outpouring of support. Thank you so much, everyone!