Sunday, October 23, 2011

Life’s Short. Run Long.

My friend Shannon and I had both scheduled a 20 miler for the long run. We met on a wet, wet, very wet, morning, at one of the best running spots in Western Washington: East Sammamish River Trail by Redmond. The temperature was warm, in the high 50’s and the drizzle was constant but lovely. I told Shannon that we should split up if she needed to pick up the pace. She is way faster than me and her marathon is around the corner. I was not going to hold her up. Training is training and we gotta do what we gotta do. I was concerned because I was physically and mentally tired. I was coming from a 17 miler last week, with a lot of hills in it, and I worked this week about 12 hour each day. Add to that recipe a daunting 20-mile run, and I could drag my feet any minute.

We had so much enthusiasm that the first 8 miles were pretty much unnoticeable. Runners and bikers were all with smiles on their faces, and jolly “good morning” came out of my mouth every minute. I dare to say that the smiles and sense of happiness were due to various factors: All of us on that trail love what we were doing. People would not jump out of their bed on a 100% rainy day to do something they don’t like. The weather was perfect for running, with all and the drizzle. We were in a place with gorgeous scenery: poplars on the right, and a calm river, a slew, on the left, with plenty of ducks and geese guarded by trees with the colors of fall: red, orange, yellow. The reflection of the trees on the peaceful waters was striking.  The mist around the evergreens on the mountains made the place simply magic.

Before my watch beeped on mile 10, I asked Shannon if she wouldn’t mind to go farther, maybe 0.5 miles, for me to show her something. She was OK, and asked what. I told her she would have to see it by herself. For sure, it was going to be worthy, something with a lot of meaning, especially for us runners; something to make us pause, and have a reflection. I have shared this before, and wanted to share it with her. The watch beeped, and the bench was right there, a bench with a bolted pair of bronze running shoes: a memorial for runner Liz Duncan, who, 3 days before her 27th birthday, was killed by a car, while running.  As Shannon said, a fellow runner gone too soon.  And then you pause, think, and ask: what are the things that really matter?

We turned around and continued with our journey, now into regressive mode. Boy, don’t you love that? My legs started to feel tired at mile 13. At 14 Shannon says: only 6 more. At 16 I said Dieciseis, and Shannon started repeating the word. Then the mileage countdown became a Spanish class. Diecisiete, Dieciocho, Diecinueve, VEINTE (20). We were done. My first 20 miler of my marathon season was complete. 12 weeks to go. 

A lovely run, with fantastic company, terrific surroundings, and delicious weather. Life's Short. Run Long.

Dedicated to Liz Duncan.

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