Jim ran his very first 10 mile training run this past weekend. He is training for the Nittany Valley Half Marathon, a local race here is Centre County. Because it was not a weekend that clogged campus with heavy Penn State football traffic, Jim decided to run the last 10 miles of the actual course.
Speaking of the course, it was the very first half marathon I ever took notice too. I read mini reviews of it on their web page stating:
“I thought the course was good and challenging. I wouldn’t change a thing.” —Rob Guissanie
“You have redefined the meaning of ‘somewhat challenging’.” —Jerry Heinz
“It’s a very tough course, especially after about mile 7. The last mile is designed to make you see God.” —Marty Mazur
“I was looking for God during the last mile, but I didn’t see him. I guess he finished ahead of me too.”— Albert Mabus, last male finisher at the 2001 NVHM
All I could think as a beginning runner was that the 3 hour course limit would never allow me enough time to make it that far. By the end of the year, I ran it and finished in about 2 hours 15 minutes. I was so proud.
Now Jim is making it his very first and I am so proud to support him in his training. I wrote some fun chalk messages for him over the last couple of miles in the course where it gets really rough and went to wait for him at the car. I mixed up a Hammer Nutrition Soy Protein drink for him to have then realized I might be able to see him coming up the last hill. The last mile of the course is visible from the finish line because the surrounding hills spiral up for the final mile and a half. Locals have come to know it as “The Spiral of Death.”
I looked at might watch and walked to where I could see almost to the base of the hill in the breezy grey morning. It was just spitting a little drizzle and was not a good temperature for just standing around but I knew the exertion of coming up the hill would keep him warm. I could see something moving at the bottom and it wasn’t a car. I determined it to be a bicycle because it was moving in a very steady and brisk way as it started the more level section. Wait! It was a yellow vest and it really WAS Jim! Awesome pace and right on time!
He climbed the first and steepest section, finally cresting Orchard Road. He then turned into the wind on Park Ave. Even though the climb moderates for a bit, I knew he had a head wind and really felt for him. His pace was steady and he just kept coming. It was really impressive to watch him running well for the longest distance he had ever done to date. I was so proud of him and cheered as he approached.
I did notice he was a bit fatigued on the last few yard of Park Ave. and determined to let him know that his right arm gets a little stiff when he gets tired. He was moving well but he was just a little off balance in his stride; knowing that can always help for future runs.
As he turned onto Porter Road the course gets a little steeper again and I heard him groan out loud. I knew JUST what he was feeling, having trained on the stretch and run the race twice myself. He was thinking, “More uphill! When will it quit!?” I think his groan even made me smile becuase training on this stretch makes you wise for what to expect race day. Jim was going to be ready; he looked like he could run another 3 miles as well as he was doing.
I crossed the parking lot as he ran uphill to the final few turns to run the official course. I cheered loudly for him and stopped my watch. He was under a 10MM, much better than I did on my first time to train that route. As we started to walk together and I praised him and handed him some sports drink, the reason for his lopsided gait because apparent when he produced something he had been carrying for the last 5 miles of the course. It was a huge…
Well, I can’t quite share with you what it is. Not because it is pornographic or distasteful but because we have some serious plans for it and want to keep it a surprise. What I can say is that I about fell over with surprise when he showed it to me. It is fodder for some serious future tom-foolery. When I asked where he got it and I exclaimed my surprise at how far he carried it, all he could say was, “I couldn’t risk anyone else picking it up.” This is why I love this man with my whole heart. He keep our lives FUN!