Sunday, April 3, 2011


20-miler was the plan for the weekend and there was no long-distance race in the horizon. Well, only one. the Yakima River Canyon Marathon.

As the name describes it, it's in the Yakima River Canyon, where the road starts north and ends south with no exits in between. I love that road and I have floated that portion of the river several times. Good friend Susan was running it, so my first option for the 20-miler was registering to run part of the marathon, however, it was logistically complicated. The road would be close, so nobody could drop me at mile 6, and I don't think it would have been OK to start the race there, it looked like cheating. I could run up to mile 20, but then I'd get stuck. I would have to: wait for the course to open to get a ride to the finish line; to continue the 6.2 miles left, burning my legs; or to jump after Roza Dam to flow down the river and arrive dead due to hypothermia.

After this "deep" evaluation this plan didn't look good.

Second option was to run with somebody from my training group. The third and last option was to run my 20-miler miserably  (emphasis added by the author) alone.

After coach's intervention, I went for option 2.  He told me I could run with Adina and Glyn (sp?). I didn't know what the protocol would be for such a long run with people I don't know. What about if I want to take a walk break? What about if they go too fast? What about if I can't keep up? A bunch of silly what if... But I committed to do it.

There I went on Sat 7:30 am, to find a club full of people ready to roll. I was very impressed by the turnout. I calculate we were about 50 people, give or take. All paces, all abilities, all distances to run, from 4 miles to 20.

There was no on your marks, get set, go, but a "get the hell out of here before it rains".  Do we know where we're going? Glyn "only" had to run 14 miles, as he is tapering for Boston, but he would guide us when we had to split.

I learned about Glyn, a Boston veteran who is running his 8th Boston; I learned about his health, and how his spirit should be the spirit of many; I learned about Adina, and her 19-months old baby daughter; about how she has improved so much in her running; about this being the longest that she's ever run; about how she felt spent, while she looked physically strong to me.

I learned that long runs are still long even if we run with others, but that company makes those runs smoother, and less demanding. If any of us wanted to take a walk break, we did. If any of us wanted to go slower, we did. If any of us wanted to push the pace, we did. If any of us wanted to stop for a restroom, we did.

I learned we could run free. Wow. Revelation.

PS: Congrats to my friend Susan who smashed her Marathon PR (about 30 min) at Yakima Canyon for a 4:34:50


Petraruns said...

That sounds like a WONDERFUL 20 miler Lizzie Lee - and good call on not doing that marathon, sounds like it would have been tricky.

I love running my long runs with others and you're right - you learn SO much.

Thank you for all of your lovely loving and sweet comments on my blog - really, really, really appreciate them. And hey - YOU PUT IT OUT THERE! No more fear girl!

ShirleyPerly said...

Glad you had a chance to run with others outside of a race! It is scary doing so the first time and I remember having the same type of questions the first time I did. Although I actually prefer to run by myself (mainly b/c the groups in Orlando run too early in the morning for me and I don't like running in the dark), I enjoyed the company very much. Keep up the good work!

Irish Blue said...

I love running with people. The folks in my running club are like family to me. We've supported each other through injuries,deaths, problems with our kids, you name it. Don't know what I would do without them now.

Keep up the great training!