Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The 18 Miler – Drew

There are many aspects of distance training that are challenging, but perhaps the most significant hurdle to overcome is distracting one’s self from the tedium of running. I have probably run somewhere around 200 miles so far in training and I am pretty much flush out of original thoughts with which to distract myself. I find myself hoarding media to consume while running, whether it’s tackling a series on Netflix while on the treadmill or podcasts to listen to while running outside, however I have yet to find anything that is sufficiently engrossing to allow me to completely remove myself from the myriad steps of running. On President’s Day, following three days of skiing at Killington, I loaded up a couple hours of podcasts and embarked upon what was sure to be 18 jelly-legged miles. 

Leaving from my house in Southborough, I decided to head north towards Marlborough with no particular route in mind, intending to rely on small loops and my GPS watch to accomplish the mileage. The first couple miles had rolling hills until I got to the Southborough city center (a generous description to say the least), at which point I realized that I had never run to Marlborough and decided to run north for a mile and a half just to cross over into Marlborough simply as a means of passing the time. Once I got to Marlborough at mile 5, I started thinking about the most towns I had ever passed through on a run and arrived at three. I figured that if I retraced my steps heading south I could pass through Ashland and dip into Hopkinton, thus making this a run that spanned four separate towns. While mulling this over and before heading back south I took a picture of the “Southborough/Marlborough” border sign for absolutely no reason except that running 18 miles is, logically speaking, quite a stupid thing to do and can lead to a chain reaction of other stupid behaviors. Running back south through Southborough I started noticing a change in the street signs around mile 10, which upon closer inspection revealed that I was in Ashland. I stopped to take a picture of a street sign, which again was an action without logical motivation. I drive through Ashland on my way home daily and never once have I ever felt whatsoever compelled to photo document the towns street signs, but I digress. I know from experience that the border between Hopkinton and Ashland is somewhere within Hopkinton State Park so through backroads I ran into the park. I happened to look backwards after a couple of miles at mile 12 and saw a sign that said “Town of Ashland Mandatory Water Ban” behind me that told me I was in Hopkinton. I ran a couple hundred yards extra to be sure, and on my way back I took a picture of the “Mandatory Water Ban” sign.  From there I worked my way back to Southborough and did loops around my neighborhood until I hit mile 18.

I often have thought that while the 20 mile run gets all the fanfare, the 18 mile run is often the more difficult run if only because of the absence of that fanfare. It’s hard to get revved up for the penultimate run relative to the way an impending 20 mile run dominates your psyche in the days leading up to it. You don’t tend to hydrate as well leading up to the 18 mile run, your organization is less prepared, and on and on. Having said that, when you see your watch click over to 18 miles and you don’t have to run any further, it’s hard to argue that 18 miles isn’t the easier run.  Either way, the 18 mile run is a tremendous step along the way and having completed it I feel ready to tackle 20 miles of solitude and podcasts this weekend.

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