The 18 Miler (insert scary music here)

Today we’ll learn the importance of making smart choices, how to overcome a mental challenge, and maybe that it’s a good idea to read a paper or check the news a few days each week.

On Sunday morning, my running partner in crime, Lisa and I had planned to do our 18 mile run from Blackie’s Pasture in Tiburon down to Sausalito, over the Golden Gate Bridge and along the waterfront to the SF Ferry Building.  We were meeting at 7:30am.

At 7:00am I’m eating my oatmeal, getting dressed and decided to click on the news.  “(gunfire) – and that’s the start of the San Francisco Rock N Roll Half Marathon” says the announcer.  I quickly go to my computer and Google the race and more importantly the course.  Sure enough, our route is a large chunk of their route including the bridge, which I can tell you from previous races turns into a large and mighty CF when thousands of people descend.

Add to that the fact that unless  you are crazy, you don’t “crash” a race – especially since by the time we would be getting to SF it would be after the race had been going for 3 hours and it would be “walker central” (not that there’s anything wrong with walkers, they are just hard to maneuver around).  It’s just poor form.

Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  I call Lisa and we immediately decide to meet as usual but we’ll have to go another route.  I hopped onto and came up with our Plan B.  (Remember, always have a Plan B)

The replacement route looked good on paper.  We’d go out on the path from Blackie’s pasture into downtown Tiburon, up and past the turret until we hit 3.5 miles.  Then back  to the car to drop layers and grab a GU or Sport Beans to refuel.  From there we’d head out another 5.5  miles behind Tiburon around Richardson Bay, up and over the freeway, down the road to the Mill Valley Middle School and along the path to Sausalito and then turn back.  18.  Cool.

Except in my haste of planning a new route at the last minute I made 2 huge errors that affected our mental running, more than anything else.  And with any mental challenges, they won’t stop us from the task at hand but I swear, it will make for less than an enjoyable day.  And on an 18 mile run you really, really, really want to minimize any discomfort 🙂 Mental or physical.

My first mistake happened at the beginning.  I know that I should never go back to a place that I can either get in and drive away or go in and not come back out.  That’s why I always advise running away from your home or car and not doing laps around it or having to come back to it when you say, have 11 more miles to run.

Something else that I didn’t expect but became apparent as I approached my car was that I’ve run the path in Tiburon so many times that I’ve conditioned myself to be done when I come back to the car.  So, lo and behold when I arrived back at the parking lot, had my GU and was ready to go. I wasn’t really ready to go.  I was ready to go home.   Grr.

My second mistake is more of a character flaw so we won’t call it an actual mistake.    Hill amnesia.  I easily forget how steep or hilly a route can be.  Happened here.  My bad.

Here’s some back story; I would rather eat glass than run on The Great Highway in San Francisco and the path between the Mill Valley Middle School and Sausalito.

Unfortunately, Plan B included I figured a mile out and back on the Mill Valley Path to Hell. I thought since we wouldn’t be on it that long it would be tolerable.  Wrong. give it all you 've got

Flat.  Hot.  Boring.  Lots of bikers in their fancy logo pants, zipping by at speeds that cannot be safe and the talking.  Why do they have to talk so much and so loudly?  (Sorry, I was in a bad place yesterday!)

Add to that, I couldn’t quite remember what marker I had “dinged” as our turnaround point.  So I had to look at my stinking Garmin.  A lot.  Nothing will stop time faster than your 7 year old’s tee-ball game or glancing at your Garmin every 2 seconds to see if you’ve hit 12.5 miles yet.  Nothing.

And then it came.  12.5 miles.  I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around.  And for that last 5.5 miles it was a much better run.  Refill the water bottle at the fountain.  Head down.  Music turned up.  Run.  Sip of water.  Run. Up the hill.  Down.  Back up the hill (really?).  Down.  Flat then up the hill.  Oy.  I wanted to walk really, really, really badly but this girl was struggling up that hill on her bike and I refused to walk.  Pride – isn’t that one of the 7 Deadly Sins?

Finally, down the last hill and a coast into the parking lot.  18.  Done.

Back to this pride thing.  My husband once said that the only way I’d ever come off a race course is by being carried off of it.  And while we laugh about how stubborn I can be, he’s right.  Quitting sucks.  And I know that if I gave in to my head yesterday I would have been really unhappy.   And I firmly believe that having a really mentally challenging run during training is a necessary evil.

So yes, it was a tough run but I know that we’re prepared for any glitch or problem that comes up during the race.  We’ve got this.


Now go run!

Keli 🙂


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