In just a few hours I will be either tickled pink or embarrassed as all get up. I suspect the former, but one can never rule out the latter. It took two weeks, but I finally met my counterpart, and the easiest way I can describe our meeting was that it was, well, a scream. Two overcharged Type A personalities being queried by local reporter, frantically scribbling notes in an attempt to keep up with full-combat conversation while trying figure out what makes pure wackiness tick. But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.
At last posting I’d discovered there was another lady in town with the same twisted quest of running our entire city. What gnawed at me since discovering I had a map-blanketing alter ego was that I’d met one of her clan years ago, but couldn’t recall who, when, or under what circumstances. Her family name, Johansen, is well known to me, since the street on which I live is named after her grandfather.
So where had I met her? Had I met her? The “how” part came clear a week ago when I ran past the home of a friend from my church (in a furious snow squall, I note) who happened to be on his deck (yes, in the furious snow squall, I can’t explain this), who shouted to me that he knew I was doing this crazy quest. Being accustomed to explaining to people why I am running past their homes toward dead-ends on obscure spurs, this was an amusing first. He then added that his niece was doing the same. Light bulb! It was through him that I’d met a Johansen.
Well, turns out it wasn’t the same one, but as they say, everything is relative; Chris is indeed related to the one I met in some way, shape, or form that I can’t quite pin down. But more importantly, one thing led to another and we finally came together at the office of our local daily news on Friday. She unfolded her soon-to-be famous paper map (seen here) while I popped open the laptop to show off the results of my Google Maps arts & crafts sessions. And the goofy stories flowed. Now seriously, when is the last time you ever heard two people independently come to the conclusion that continuously spinning around at the ends of multitudes of cul-de-sacs starts to wear on your hip sockets? Or both harbor secret dreams of goading our local police chief into setting up an escorted “Run the Interstates” morning? Ms. Mayor, you listening? Could be some fund-raising going on for Our Fair City… Notably, I did forget to mention my other strange thought of running the runway (after all, it is called a RUNway) at our tiny local airport.
Close to an hour and a half passed in what seemed to be about ten minutes. Pity the fine reporter trying to tally the score on this verbal tennis match. The mystery of what he did or didn’t capture won’t take long to be revealed. His work will arrive on my front walkway in about six hours, and I’ll rejoice, cringe, laugh, weep or a little of bit of all of the above. And no matter the outcome, we’ve come together and opened a new friendship.
And while on the topic of coming together, with Boston a mere two weeks out, things do seem to be coming together. Not to sound like someone talking about a shutout in the third period of a hockey game, but I’m starting to feel pretty good about my overall condition for the first time in quite a while. The pesky injuries seem to have subsided, and my comfort zone training pace has quickened again over the last week.
A week and a half back saw my sixth anniversary running, ninety-two hundred miles later. Last Saturday was the last long one before Boston, a twenty-two miler with an unusually slow stretch in the fifteen to eighteen range as my training partner Rocket John struggled through a rare rough day, but after his retirement I felt good, cranked the volume for a few more miles, and for the first time all season felt fresh after being out that long. The next day, 800 meter repeats at the track – how else does a runner celebrate his birthday? The next day, the casual equivalent of a 5K race with our CMS pub friends in Worcester, with miles two and three at six flat and five-fifty. The next two days, quick jaunts at surprisingly pleasing paces, and the next day (if you’re counting, we’ve reached Thursday the 31st), closing the month at 231 miles, second highest total in these last six years.
It’s finally feeling good. I feel like it’s all coming together.
This morning pretty much sealed it. A few club-mates and I meandered down to the Tri-Valley Boston Tune-Up 15K in lovely Upton, Massachusetts. My 2nd time running it, their 31st time holding it. Did you get that? 2-31. And I was handed bib 231. After that 231 mile month. And I’ll add that one of my club-mates finished 231st. I swear, I can’t make this stuff up. It’s an omen.
With the ups and downs recently, I didn’t expect to be near last year’s time, but you just can’t allow those kinds of expectations to get in your way. A few miles in I found myself right on last year’s pace. But the race developed rather oddly, with the leader pack splitting off within a mile or so, leaving me strangely alone in the universe in the field of 300. From that point on, I was completely and uninterruptedly lonely. A long view to anyone ahead, and no footsteps behind, nobody to push me, which made holding a hard pace that much harder. At my 15th place finish there was about a minute gap on either side of me (nice picture of the start on the results page!). When, in the midst of this loneliness, much to my dismay, I had to stop for – of all things – a blown shoelace at mile six, the gap was so large that I lost no place, though it certainly cost momentum. The irony? I counted out twenty seconds lost for the lace, and came in nineteen seconds slower than last year. Coulda’ shoulda’ woulda’, tie yer’ foolish shoes better next time you fool. OK, so no personal best, but no complaints either. It’s all coming together.