This past weekend, I set out for a long road run. I hadn’t done any considerable mileage on the roads in the last few months so when I took a look at my calendar, I decided that it’s time to re focus on the Columbus Marathon, coming up in 8ish short weeks. My mind and heart love hiding out on some technical single and double track but I knew that my legs would thank me later for giving them some road miles in preparation for this race.
I signed up for this race at least 8 months ago as a number of my friends were running it (for some it’ll be their first full!!) and didn’t give much thought to training. Suddenly we are only 2 months out and I felt like it was time to get it in gear. In order to give my legs a “run for their money” type of run, I set out to tackle ALL of the hills in my area. I jumped on Map My Run and mapped out a 17ish mile loop starting at my house that took me in to at least 5 neighboring towns and townships.
I set out at 5am with frequent my running partner and awesome friend Amy. We started early in order for me to make it to a work related event by 9am. Amy and I planned to keep the pace conservative and walk if needed-this after all was my first non trail long run in months so the idea of running the hills felt a little foreign! We set out down a flat stretch of semi busy road and got started. The miles ticked off slowly as we made our way into the still dark morning. Running on sidewalks in the dark is tough and in some ways more challenging then a nighttime trail run for me. It’s always the imperceptible lip of the sidewalk that gets me! I attempted to stop at Circle K to use the bathroom around mile 3 but evidently they don’t open until 6am. I forged on, vowing to stop at the first semi secluded area I could find.
I found an “aid station!!”
My legs really came alive around mile 3-4 which was just in time for us to take a break to call the police after a guy slowly creeped by us us with his window open FOUR times. After our “break”, we began the climb up to the Bedford and South Chagrin Reservations of the Cleveland Metroparks. My legs felt fantastic as we ran some short but very steep hills into the metroparks. From there, we hopped on the rolling hills of the all purpose trail and I took the opportunity to quickly pee. As is very typical of my luck, suddenly several cars drove by (after not seeing any for quite some time) which left Amy to perform some interesting stretching maneuvers in an attempt to give me a semblance of privacy.
We continued back on the main roads and headed into the suburb of Solon via a long stretch of industrial areas and businesses. We cruised back to the residential areas and my longing for roots, rocks and trees deepened as my eyes scanned the seemingly endless miles of the concrete jungle ahead. . We took another quick break as Amy finally got her opportunity to sit on this bench that evidently she’d always wanted to sit on.
As we wound our way back in to Twinsburg, my legs felt the familiar fatigue of miles of pounding on asphalt. It wasn’t entirely unwelcome but I had somewhat forgotten how difficult road running can be.
I dropped Amy off at her house (she continued on to later run 15 miles-her longest run EVER!!) and I ran up to the top Old Hickory Trail where I caught this beautiful view.
As I headed up back to town and my home, I passed through a local 5k. People were clapping and smiling at me and I drank it up as I realized that from their vantage, It appeared as if I was the race front runner. As I crossed an intersection, a local officer directing traffic, looked at me, saw my lack of a race bib and loudly proclaimed “nope” into his walkie talkie. Damn, the only time I was ever in first place and they figured me out!!
What a run .This was exactly what I needed to turn up the confidence. Maybe it was the change of scenery or the faster pace that running on the road allows, but this felt really good. Amy and I talked for hours and could’ve kept going. At the end, despite the wear and tear from the unfamiliar terrain, I easily could’ve gone for a few more. Fingers crossed for a few more great runs before I get ready to tackle Columbus!!