It’s mere weeks till marathon season, and I’m just not there yet. August has been a somewhat cruel month. The body isn’t happy. I probably shouldn’t. But somehow I just can’t resist the fun.
Just a few months back I wrote about how pleased I was that my training was progressing well following my return from the dead after foot surgery. Now, a short time later, I’m in a lull. I’ve bumped up my mileage a bit to about a buck fifty per month, but my average pace has slowed, and more importantly, I’m just feeling like a slug. Not strong. It doesn’t just flow. It’s a struggle. It doesn’t feel right, and it’s a bit worrisome. I’d chalk it up to summer heat, but it hasn’t been that hot.
Reality check: Perspective time here. Um, I still put in a hundred fifty per month the last two months, and ‘slow’ is a relative term. I recently recorded a second running podcast with my friend Chris Russell and we talked about how being knocked out of action for 5 months changes your view and heightens your appreciation for just being able to get out there. To steal the fishermen’s phrase, a bad run beats a good day at work, right? 99% of the planet didn’t pop in a buck fifty at 7:32 pace last month. As I tell my kids, suck it up. Besides, I probably hurt because I’ve spent days and days on my hands and knees installing the new kitchen floor. Or if that excuse doesn’t work, I’ll think of another, just hold on a bit.
Against this background, it’s decision time. Fall marathon season is so close, I can count the number of long runs I should have already done but haven’t. The easy choice is to skip it, take the fall off, after all, last year’s Wineglass time already gets me a plum spot for Boston 2010. My body really isn’t ready. But I’ve got Mount Desert Island in my sights, and I just want to do it.
Mount Desert Island, Maine (a.k.a. Acadia), is a second home for me. We’ve vacationed there for years, and I’ve hiked almost every trail on the island, save the obscenely steep ones (no thanks!) Running MDI would be, well, just plain cool and fun. The fact that it finishes in Southwest Harbor, the very town that is our home away from home, is even better. And it fits this year: it’s a tough, hilly course, not likely to produce a good time on a good day, but with my Wineglass time lined up for Boston, I just don’t care about time. Which is, like it was for Boston this past spring, freeing. I can be a tourist and love it.
Like most marathons, MDI’s price goes up the longer you wait. I’d hoped to decide in August and save five bucks. But I didn’t get that satisfying long run in that said, “Go ahead, you’re not stupid to do this.” So it’s September, and I’m still on the fence.
What I did get in August was a very pleasant surprise and a big kick toward doing MDI. I spent a few days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire bagging peaks with my family. I finished my 4000-footers back in 1995, but now that my kids are old enough, I’ve begun a second tour with them. Tuesday, climbing the Amonoosic Ravine Trail, heading for Mt. Washington – upon which I hadn’t set foot since it became my first New Hampshire summit way back in 1982 (!) – I ran into my old Appalachian Mountain Club friend Steve, whom I hadn’t seen in 15 years. We were heading in the same direction and as such had a few hours to catch up. If that wasn’t fate enough, we’d apparently both been sent the same fashion advice email and looked like a pair of twins (that’s him in the yellow tech shirt and faded green shorts on the right, me in the yellow tech shirt and faded green shorts in the center). And wouldn’t you know it, he’s entered the MDI marathon (he plans to power walk it). It was like God sending me a signal. Just do it, you fool.
What’s the chances…?
Six summits, including the most perfect day on Lafayette you could imagine, and a sore knee later, I left New Hampshire knowing I want to do MDI more than ever. And immediately again faced the reality that my next run felt pretty downright lousy.
But hey, I’ve got almost 7 full weeks to turn that around.
Just do it, you fool.
Side Note: It’s been a year of blogging! To the six of you that have actually read all 73 postings, I thank you for your interest. Leave a comment now and then. And if there are only three of you, or even one, that’s OK, because I’ve enjoyed writing these stories, and will continue to do so, just because. Cheers.