Chin up and shoes laced, I pressed “play” on the Ipod. Swinging open the door, I felt the misty breeze spash my face. The sun was hiding behind the clouds, but the heat found its way to Earth. I began my 20 mile run. I began to make my way down my usual route, when I decided to go a different way. A flame of exitment brewed within me as I turned around and headed for Central Turnpike. I knew I was looking at a 5 mile run to the school and I was going to have to face the hardest challenge yet. I was going to take on Hill Street.
The road was destroyed. It was as if godzilla had burrowed his way out of the Earths surface. However, I was able to focus on the fact that this was a new and exciting run–this acted as a distraction to the recently nuked terrain. Each rain drop that kissed my face was a gentle refreshment. I felt good. I felt really good.
I love to wave at cars as they pass by. Its a simple thing that can make a persons day. Sometimes, the people that look the grumpiest are the ones that have the biggest and most encouraging smiles.
As I approached my first hill, I said to myself, “you did not think this through.” Head down, I began to plow my way up this mountain. Cars spashling water at me each time they passed. I would have been angry if I was not grateful for the cool reguvination it brought.
“Ankle pain. Damn these shoes. I should not have rushed into these shoes. I gotta get myself new shoes. New shoes. New shoes. New shoes. How long till the race…uh…6… no 5 weeks. Okay, I’ll get new shoes next week…Spring break. In the meantime, keep going.”
This was the first time I used the running belt. I packed two tiny water bottles in it along with a granola bar. I was not going to make any stops this run. I was going all 20…no rests…no walks…nothing but running.
As I approached the second towering hill, I decided not to look down. I was going to watch as I dominated this hill. I was going to show this hill I was in charge and I was not intimidated by its size. “Ah, done. Now, I go down hill. Well, this is a nice break…except this is all going to be uphill on the way back…fun.”
“Okay, I’m probably about 4 miles in…not long yet…till I turn around. 16 miles to go…damn ankles….oh, I love this song.”
“The school is about a half mile away…I’m not going through all these lights…time to turn around.” I figured I had gone a little over 4 and a half miles, but I was not certain. The way back was brutal. Those hills…those monsterous hills. I was constantly tracking my distance and figuring how far away from home I was. “When I get back, I’ll be at 9 miles…only 9 miles…that’s not even half. Just to be safe…I’ll say 8 and a half. Okay, so when I get back…I’ll run to Steves and back….that’s 5. Then, I’ll run to Keowns and back…that’s 3 and a half. Alright, What’s 8 1/2 plus 8 1/2…17. Then, I’ll run a little past Gabes and back.”
“Who’s waving? Oh, its Nate! Hey!” I love seeing people I recognize while I’m running. It’s a bit of motivation that I can’t explain. It’s not as though they can see me running once they drive by, but it still makes me run harder.
“I’m loving this rain…okay…almost back. There’s Foppemas Farm. Oh great, the godzilla road is back.” Certain roads become a game. It’s similar to Frogger. Avoid the the cracks, avoid the puddles, and avoid the cars.
“I’m so thirsty…I need a sip. NO, not yet… you only have a half mile to go then you can sip.” I was just about home when a car zipped by and honked. An arm came out and waved. It was my dads arm. I smiled. “Welcome to Sutton”. HA! I’m back. Time to head to Steves. 11 miles to go.
“How many songs are left on this playlist? It usually lasts about 12 miles…okay, I have about 3 miles of music left.”
“Hey, I wonder If I’ll see Gabe at his house. Ah, he has work. But, maybe he will be home and want to run…Shoot. No ones outside.”
This is mile 11, over half way done! The route to Steves and back is a fun one. The way there is a gradual down hill experience. This is great to build up some self esteem. “First is this big hill, then that little hill, then the stop sign…almost there! I wonder if I’ll see Mrs. Kerr…or Kelly…nope.” 8 1/2 miles to go.
“C’mon Taylor, keep going! My energy level is dropping…my stomach is feeling empty. I’ll have the granola bar when I get back…just 2 1/2 miles till you can enjoy it!” I drained one of the water bottles in my mouth.”Ahhh…that’s good. Actually, this tastes like thousand year old plastic…gag.”
“Hey, the rain stopped…Looks like the second half of this run is going to be dry…maybe the rain will come back. I hope it does. It was nice.”
At this point, I was starting to really feel it in my feet. The shoes I have really don’t fit to me well. Fortunately, the pain I used to have in my right leg vanished. I also came to realization that I had not had a cramp of any kind yet…and I thanked God for that.
“Who’s this? A woman walking a dog. Wow…she’s gorgeous…”hi!” She smiles and says hello. I wonder how old she is…probably mid 20′s. Damn. Good looking dog, too.
The rain comes back. “I hope that woman will be okay in the rain…wonder where she lives…I’ve never seen her. Yes! I am just about home! I just have to slap that Peirce Road sign. Granola bar, here I come.”
My throat was dry, as I took a bite of the vanilla chip granola bar. It was hard to swollow and run at the same time. When you are at this point of exhaustion, the body is not funtioning quite up to par. I inhaled a peice of the bar and coughed a bit. I took smaller bites. “6 miles to go…you got this, Taylor” On my way to Keowns I ran into that woman with the dog again. “I hope I don’t have any of that bar in my teeth…” I smiled and waved. “Wow, I should have been more positive and said something clever…like…”we meet again… no that just creepy…I’m too tired to be clever anymore.” I stopped waving at cars, too…
“There’s the house that looks like it’s from Amityville Horror…wow I’m already almost to central turnpike. There’s my old house…wow it smells like horse manure…lovely. Thanks Mr. Horse.” From this point on to Keowns it’s .75 miles of hills. At this point, I was unable to run the hills like a normal person. I was a robot on stilts. My ankles felt like they were being torn off of my legs.
“There’s Keowns! only 4.75 miles to go…I can make it!
“Pretend this is the marathon…come on! How can you expect to run 26 miles if you can’t do 20? How do you expect to bike across the country if you can’t run 20 miles?! LETS GOOOO!”
“I can’t wait to lay down on my couch and crash…I can see it now. That’s all I’m looking forward to. a couch.”
“You are almost back…then you have just a measly 3 miles to go…come on.” I began to start to zone out. Things felt surreal. I was weak and out of it. My feet hurt and my ankles killed. I closed my eyes for a few seconds while I ran…it felt good.
I made it to the pierce road sign again…and slapped…well, collapsed into it. I was dead tired. 3 miles to go. From this point on, I had to lift myself up. I had to encourage myself. I had to be my own support.
“20 miles…without walking or stopping…Taylor, this is going to be huge…don’t quit now.” I began to feel faint…and dizzy…”don’t pass out…keep it together.” I contemplated slapping myself…but I figured that would benefit me in no way at all. I began to smell a comforting smell. It was the smell of Spring. As I turned the hill past “The Dunes of Anakk”, I saw an older couple walking. As I approached them, I smiled and the man said, “How are you?” I chucked and managed to reply sarcastically, “I’m a little tired.” he laughed and the woman said back as I ran by, “Keep going.”– It worked.
As I passed Gabes house, I tried to remember which mail box signified 1.5 miles from home…”This one…? No, it’s this one!” I instantly looped around and began my last 1.5 miles.
“God, I could not run 20 miles without you…I could not run one. Infact, I could not take one step without you. Thank you.”
As I came around the bend and saw “The Dunes of Anakk”, I knew I was .8 miles from home…I decided to kick it into high gear. My legs began to stride and I felt myself pick up speed. My legs were seperated from my upper body…they ran on themselves. I ran, I ran, and I ran. “This is your proudest run, keep the pace.” Energy that I had not had moments earlier came pulsing through me.
“Last hill…let’s do it.” I robot stilted up my driveway and up to the front door and put my fists in the air as I walked into my house…Finally, I was going to have that comfort….that beautiful couch. My parents were both on one couch and I collapsed on the other…”GET OF MY COUCH!” my mom said.
So, I suppose the floor will have to do…my parents were very proud that I ran those twenty miles without a single break, but I think no one could be prouder than I.
I finished 20 miles in a few minutes over 3 hours…not bad. After popping some blisters and putting on some bandaids, I took a cold shower. Life is good. God is good. Heck, I’m pretty good.
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