Monday, March 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Long Runs

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs.

With three weeks to go before the Boston Marathon, a host of NETT members were out among the masses this weekend on the course for their final long run. And depending who you were talking to and what day they ran, it was either an encouraging fun-filled run or a complete and utter sufferfest.

Eminem and her pal Peter made a wise choice and met up with another friend in the Parkway Running Club to do their long run on Saturday. You remember Saturday right? The one with all the sun and the temperatures around 60. Karyn and Peter finished their 22 miles and told tales of dancing water stops with Hawaiian shirts and hula girls.

"It was fantastic today," she reported. "There were literally thousands of runners on the course. Busloads were arriving at the start line and there were aid stations at just about every mile, staffed by businesses (shoe vendors, sports stores), charities, private running clubs. At the 21-mile mark people were giving out plastic Hawaiin leis and food. It was so much fun. Peter and I had a great run--we were about 10 minutes faster than on any of other 21-milers. So it was encouraging."

But Sunday, oh cruel and unforgiving Sunday. You remember Sunday? Or perhaps you slept in. Well, a group of six MiniPonies who apparently don't get the weather channel on their cable package set out in a cold rain for a 21 mile sufferfest that would have made Dickens himself cringe. (three of which aren't even running Boston--talk about masochists!)

It had all the elements of a Victorian tragedy: Transportation troubles, horrendous weather, injuries and near-hypothermia. Frank W, Crazy Dave, Jim Rhoades, Mary and Jean Dany started off from Hopkinton (Ben S had the car trouble and met up with us on the course) in what seemed like a light rain and mild temperatures. But instead of warming up, conditions got worse, with temperatures dropping, rain coming more steadily and a pretty solid headwind for much of the way.

To make matters worse, around mile 12 Frank ran into a knee problem and was forced to walk in the rain solo before we could finish at 21 and go pick him up. When we pulled up next to Jean Dany shivering out on Comm Ave just before Dickensianly named Heartbreak Hill, through quivering lips, all he could utter was, "Please sir....may I have some warmth?"

Mary shouted "Bah Humbug" to the boys and just sprinted up Heartbreak Hill while spinning yarns of the devastaion she plans to bring to the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. "Claire's got NOTHING on me!" she screamed back at the howling wind.

In retrospect, with the misery of yesterday's slog somehwat dulled, we're all agreed it was a good test of mental toughness. And given that Eminem and Peter had their own tragedy a few weeks ago at Stu's 30K, I suppose they deserved such a great day. But why don't we let Charles have the final word:

"Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well dressed. There ain't much credit in that."
--Charles Dickens

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