Mmmmm....yep, one of those ooey gooey chocolate eclair types. My favorite. It even had yellow and orange sprinkles for Halloween on it and was worth every bite (so you would be correct in assuming the eclairs in the picture are not the actual diet crushing culprits that I had the pleasure of eating since they are missing the festive decor).
Ok grumpy pants with the disgusted sigh shaking your head, I did run 12 miles first so spare me the you'll eat yourself to your own demise talk though I suppose that in no way makes said donut healthier but somehow makes me feel as if it was so. I had calories to replace gosh darn it! (Please direct all discussion of trans fats and excessive consumption of sugar elsewhere. This was guilt free consumption for me as I am a follower of the indulge just a little from time to time so as not to suddenly find myself on a frantic feeding frenzy of sweets philosophy. The results of which could be horrific and most surely irreversible.) But let's move on...
The Kenyan and I had our last "long run" pre-marathon this Sunday. Well long for him, not so long for me. He ran 20 and I accompanied for the first 12. Now before you start judging my lack of character for abandoning the Kenyan on his first 20 miler and opting instead for a pastry delicacy of sorts, you should know that our marathon is this Saturday. And though truly deep down in my heart, I wanted to be there to support him on this running challenge hills and all, I have Chicago to make up for and would like to at least be rested enough to finish. So, as oh so many running gurus will tell you to do the week of the marathon, I'm tapering.
The Kenyan on the other hand, not so much so. You see, he has been down and out since about our marathon relay in Detroit with an ankle injury two weeks ago. With the exception of one 10 mile run mid-late last week, he's only run one other time and instead has been swimming, biking and working out on the elliptical machines like a mad man, as hard a he possibly can, dripping with sweat when he finishes. Despite this, in all honesty, I had my doubts about him and this 20 miler and so therefore doubts about whether or not he'd be joining me for the marathon.
The plan was we'd run 12 together at my pace (10:30ish) then I would hang out, have a recovery snack (donut) and join him on the last mile to help drag him up the Sahara, which for those of you who are not familiar would be the last long hill on the course I run with a seemingly never ending gradual incline and not a single tree to give you the mildest bit of relief from the baking sun (yeah we named it one summer, not quite the same monster it is during the hot months, but the name sticks).
So as we began to near the 12 mile mark and my departure, suddenly and uncontrollably the mom in me kicked in. "Ok Kenyan," (actually I used his name, but for dramatic effect we'll use his alias) "now this is how I suggest you finish. Stick to this pace at least 'til you hit the last 4 miles (his longest run prior to this was 15 just fyi) and see how you feel. If you're still feeling good, then you can start to pick up your pace a little bit keeping in mind you've got four hills in those last four miles including the Sahara on the last mile. Watch your speed as you come down the hills in these middle miles so you don't end up running a faster pace then you intended. I'll pick you up on your last mile. Here take this gel and put it in your pouch. Yes, I know you don't need it. But just take it with you so I'll feel better. If you start to feel a cramp or weak or loopy in the head (that's an official medical symptom), it'll be there. I'm also going to give my dad (aka accompanying mobile mile marker) a salt packet just in case. Yes, I know you won't need that either. Humor me. Maintain pace." (Aren't you so glad you're not my running partner?)
Then with a deep breath, I left. Hoping the Kenyan would in fact turn out to be a Kenyan and not human like the rest of us after all because basically the dude has broken about every rule in the book when it comes to marathon training and the consequences of this scare me. For example: don't add mileage too quickly (5 miles at a time), replace fluids & electrolytes (um...for 15 miles he took a couple of swigs of gatorade despite his salt coated hat at the finish), replace calories & replenish glycogen stores on long runs ("nah, I don't really like those gels"), rest days ("huh?"), eat breakfast before long runs ("toast and coffee ok?"), eat and drink after your run ("no thanks, I don't really need a banana, but could you warm up this coffee for me") some runs SHOULD be slow/recovery runs ("well, I didn't run the WHOLE thing as hard as I could").
After eating that much discussed already donut and updating his wife via text message on his progress, I drove to mile 13. He still looked good and was...gasp...shocker of all shockers, maintaining pace something that has been proven as a challenge at least for this Kenyan who frequently lacks the ability to suppress his inner sprinter. Then I headed over to my mom's for a pit stop and to meet my husband who was going to go along for the ride to cheer the Kenyan to the finish. We picked him back up at mile 18 where he was still...say it with me now...maintaining pace. Alright Kenyan! But his stride was definitely looking labored and I thought to myself...hmmm...does even the Kenyan have his limits?
When he hit the 18 mile marker, I hit my watch to start recording his splits again, then I hopped out of the car and joined him. "Well, how's it going?" I asked "I'm definitely working." he told me. We chatted a bit more, or rather I chatted a bit more while he ran it out, then I told him I'd see him at 19. My husband ran with him for the next 1/2 mile. I moved the car closer to the last mile marker and was shocked when they got there quicker than I expected. 9:30 was his split. Now there's only a downhill on that mile, which might have contributed to his increase in pace but still his stride was looking better, less labored.
I met him and we started the climb up the Sahara. About 1/2 way I realized we were running pretty quick for an uphill and I of course assumed it was my fault since I was not the one who had just run 19 1/2 miles. Not wanting to push him faster than he was wanting to go, I decided to fall back a step and run at the Kenyan's heels which is when I realized that I was in fact not the one who was picking up the pace. It was him.
Coming down the back side of the hill he continued to do so and by the time we reached the last about 200 meters or so to go we were getting pretty close to sprinting pace (at least for me) at which point I turned to the Kenyan and said, "listen, if you want to sprint out this last little bit you go on ahead and do so, but I'm not warmed up anymore and no chance I'm pulling anything on this last mile less then one week prior to the marathon." The Kenyan said not a word, but went ahead and set the land speed record in that last little bit. Mile 20...8:00. I kid not.
And come on now fasties, you've got to admit even for you all that is slightly impressive. I mean a dude who's in shape from other activities (biking, swimming, etc) but really only just started running within the last couple of months, who's done 10 miles a couple time and 15 miles only once can finish his 20 mile run with an 8:00 minute mile. And you ready for this, his ankle's alright and he's a little sore in the upper thighs, but yeah he's doing just fine and ready to take on 26.2 this weekend.
So, I think I have all the proof I need. No birth certificate will be necessary for verification. I have somehow managed to find myself running with a Kenyan. **Sigh**now if only I could keep up...
'Til next time...
P.S. Don't forget you are all invited to run with me on Thanksgiving for Cure4Cathy.org even if you're not in my area or even my country. It's any race, anywhere, anytime! You are welcome to walk if you can't run, or cheer someone on if you can't walk. If you can't do either of those things but would still like to help, we could still use your donation to sponsor another runner. Every little bit helps! Click here for all the details (feel free to skip the silly post and just scroll down to the Run 4 Cathy details if you're short on time and I've already wasted enough of it, for today anyways ;-)