Friday night we met my brother and his wife for camping at Lake Hudson Rec Area in Clayton. Keeping in mind that I had to run nine miles the next morning, I declined any beer and went to bed soon after we arrived. Talk about willpower. Forgoing beer while camping? Who am I? (Never fear: I made up for it Saturday afternoon while listening to the Michigan football game on the radio.)
Early the next morning I arose, fired up the Garmin, and headed out. I had only the vaguest idea about where I was going, having only briefly looked up a map of the area surrounding the park. Never fear, my trusty Garmin is here!
I tried not to think too much about the fact that nine miles of road lay ahead of me. I was just out for a run, enjoying the (jesus h christ it's fucking hot as hell out here) fall weather. I had new roads to travel, different things to see. I was in unfamiliar territory, and for some reason that always makes my runs go by faster.
The terrain in that area of Michigan is extremely flat. From that standpoint, this was not a challenging run. For the first 6 miles of my run, I never ascended more than 79 feet per mile. Yep, it's flat as a board down there, folks. Thus unencumbered by hills, I concentrated on maintaining a steady pace and enjoying the scenery.
I was on farm roads most of the way, five miles of narrow one-lane, badly-paved or gravel roads lined by corn stubble and not-yet-harvested soybeans. An enormous tractor hauling some kind of tank and sprayers passed me, enveloping me in a cloud of earthy stink. The air was a pungent cocktail of livestock, damp soil, and late-season vegetation.
Before I forget: you know you're running in the country when you pass piles of horse manure smack dab in the middle of the road. Also, when tractors drive past you.
I paused during mile 4 to gulp down a Gu and take in some Gatorade. Those of my readers (all, like, five of you) who live in Michigan know what the weather was like this past weekend. I was having déja vu of running in Cape Cod back in July. Needless to say my long-sleeved shirt and vest were on the...heavy side. I was sweatin' buckets, people. Even my headband couldn't contain the streams coursing off my forehead. I feel so sorry for those poor people who ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
I spent the first three miles under 10:00/mile but I couldn't keep it up. I was so damn hot and uncomfortable. Plus I had slept like shit the night before; lying on the ground in a tent just doesn't compare to one's own bed at home. I knew I was slowing down drastically. I didn't need Garmin to tell me that. I decided that I was just going to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other to get the miles in. Not every run has to be a personal best. Keep moving, focus on something on the horizon, and watch it slowly get closer. I reached my nadir between miles 5 and 6. I did that mile in 10:34. After that, however, I sped up slightly (it might have had something to do with the fact that I turned my back to the sun and no longer had it glaring me full force in the face) and completed the last 3 miles at or under 10:30/mile.
I was watching Garmin like a hawk during my last mile...all I could think about was being able to finally stop. When the distance clicked over to 9.00 miles I hit that stop button so hard! At last, I could rest.
Four more miles on top of that and that's the half marathon. Totally doable.
Total time: 1:32.16
Mile 1: 9:39
Mile 2: 9:49
Mile 3: 9:56
Mile 4: 10:01
Mile 5: 11:04 (this is when I stopped for Gu and water)
Mile 6: 10:34
Mile 7: 10:32
Mile 8: 10:17
Mile 9: 10:22