When I decided to forgo training for the local marathon, it was to open up some time for activities that I really missed. Jim and I didn’t spend our time walking slowly around like this turtle we met on Neversink Mountain in Reading, PA. We hiked and biked and cross trained in a lot of different ways.
We had our dear family visit us in August. I didn’t stop my training for Ragnar but backing off from marathon training allowed us to spend some days hiking Thousand Steps near Mount Union, enjoying an afternoon at Knoebel’s Amusement resort and exploring the abandoned PA turnpike near Breezewood.
With a bit more energy, we were able to create and go looking for some letterboxes. We found 9 one day on Neversink Mountain and were able to hide a local series here is State College. Carving and hiking and creating clues again was a lot of fun.
Central PA has so many great places to explore, I was really missing getting out to some of my favorite places over the past years. It was nice not to have to tell family to go without me and to have energy to enjoy where I was.
By the time the Mount Nittany Marathon came around I certainly hadn’t trained to go the full 26.2 miles on our local hills. My plan was to run more than half of the marathon course and I decide to hike hard the day before. W pushed to get in almost 8 miles up and down and all around Neversink Mountain the day before the race. That way I could log a long run on legs that were already pretty fatigued.
The morning of the race was quite warm and start time wasn’t until 8:00 AM. This gave me time to look for and meet our pal from Daily Mile, Beth. We had only communicated through social media and it was great to be able to start the race with her. It was her first marathon.
As it turns out, our paces were really similar and we frequently saw each other over the first half of the course. The day got really warm and I took full advantage of the water at the stations. Before I hit the 15 mile mark, I met Jim at a pre-arranged spot and we cheered Beth on as she passed. Jim took a photo of my sweaty purple hair before I went home and took a welcome shower.
My legs were so tired but we went back to cheer Beth at the finish. If I was tired, I could only imagine what she was going through and this was her special day. I would be ashamed if I missed her cross the line and was so thrilled to cheer for her.
That was over a week ago and this weekend was time to log a simulation of my Ragnar legs. I started out running a pretty hard 6.1 miles on rolling hills at noon on Saturday. It was quite warm but my pace was good at ~9:30 MM. My biggest concern was that I rarely eat before a run. Things went really well with the bagel and vegan cream cheese I had.
My next run was about 3.5 miles and that came right around Midnight. Jim drove me to the bottom of some severe hills that precede my regular Struble Hill run. I wore all of my Night Gear and started climbing as steadily and quickly as I could. I was pleased with my 10:10 MM pace in the dark with just a spit of rain. The only wildlife I saw was a squashed and dried out rat. Traffic was crazy quiet even after a home Penn State football game, I was happy to shower and catch some sleep.
I planned my next run for late morning. This was the second weekend in a row that I was starting out my long run on fatigued legs. Unlike any other runner in the Ragnar DC relay, my final leg is over 2.5 miles longer than any of my others. At 8.6 miles, I have to know what it is like finishing long and being pretty darn tired. I planned to run 9 for a total of about 19 miles in less than 24 hours.
Jim joined me and all went pretty well. He even executed our turn around perfectly as I marked our split (47:57). I really wanted a negative split and focused on getting home. It was sometime in the midst of the rolling hills on the bike path that I felt compelled to remind Jim that it was “actually my 15th mile of the day.” Talk like that shows I am getting tired.
Sure enough, with about 2 miles to go, I felt myself wanting to really gear down. I said, “Uh oh, uh oh. I am tired.” Then with a mile to go, and the steepest hills of the whole run just ahead of me, we passed some kids on scooters and bikes. I soon heard a buzzing of a little engine coming from behind me and getting louder as I struggled up the hill. I asked Jim if it was a kid on a motorized toy and he said that it was. That did it, I dug deep and sped up on the toughest stretch because, “I’ll be damned if a kid on a toy is going to pass me.”
I heard the little motor getting fainter and finally turn around as I crested the hill. That lifted my spirits and imagined the rest of my final mile to exchange 30 (right off of Wisconsin Ave and past the Chipotle!) and imagined handing the baton (slap bracelet) to Rene as Van 1’s legs would be completed! Negative split earned and about a 10:30 MM on a course that has maybe twice the hills as the one in DC. I am hoping for a cloudy day because adding heat to a run like that is a scary thought for me.
No photos from this past weekend but a cool bit of Ragnar to share below. There are a lot of really fun Ragnar DC videos out there. Random Commandos put together one from last year that shows spirit and share some great info too. I have no idea what they were like as people but I think it shows a great cross section of who runs the race and what to expect on some of the legs.