Sunday, November 30, 2014

Here it is! 35 for 35, the time I ran halfway across Maine (well, kinda.)

I turned 35 in mid November.
To many, this might not seem like a big deal. To me though, it was probably the biggest deal EVER!
For starters I really, really love my damn birthday and try to turn it into a major national event yearly (it does not work. whatevs.) In addition, for the first time due to my late in life running efforts, I am in a new age group! Sadly, 35-39 is faster than 30-34- this prospect is rather terrifying and while I have not yet declared my intention to win my AG at EVERY race I do, I probably will soon.
Or not. Most likely not.

But I digress.
For this special of most special days I wanted to do something original, thrilling and completely unheard of in the running community!
I decided to run 35 miles for the big old 35. *sigh* Just like every runner in the history of ever to hit a milestone birthday.
If nothing else this should make the non runners in the world feel a bit more comfortable with the state of my sanity. Which is good, because I personally decided that my cheese had slid.

I have written this blog post approximately 300 times in my head so far.
Clearly, since it has been over a week I have been completely disgusted with each attempt. The problem is that it was a long ass day of schlepping over hill and dale and I simply can not imagine anyone out there having the attention span for that sort of dull reading.
But in the end, I got self righteous and remembered that this is my own damn blog and long-windedness is my right!
So buckle up kids, get a snack and a box of wine and prepare to learn why running 35 miles is the best idea that anyone could ever have.

How the day began: (said in ominous tones)
I was able to enlist the appropriate kind of barn help to give me the better part of a day off (Jennie for the WIN!) I was able to coerce Eric into being my support crew: essentially driving the Corolla along my route and meeting me every couple miles with snacks, water, wise words, and high fives.
I attempted to procure a merry band of runners to do some miles with me. For some strange reason, perhaps the fact that I live in East Bumstumble or that the planned route was legitimately over a freaking mountain range, and the temps were scheduled to be on the frigid side of cold, people seemed hesitant. Go figure, apparently my friends have no sense of adventure! (and by that I actually mean that they have common sense...) And honestly I can't blame them! I'm a hell of a long way from anywhere, bottom line. I'm one step away from living in a town that has numbers instead of a name! (ok, I'm kind of kidding...)
The best news was my final destination! I calculated that my route would bring me to my best friends house exactly at mile 35. It was clearly a sign from the running gods, duh.
Back when Angie lived in Oxford I could easily run to her house- the short route was 13 and the circuitous route was 18. Basically, she saw my sweaty ass an awful lot and almost constantly was being asked to supply me with snacks and rides home.
RUDELY she moved FAR, FAR away. You really have to question your friend choices when they move away from your regular running route in favor of a nicer home in a nicer area. Jeeezes. Clearly she did not anticipate that I would be mental enough to get on the hop and run twice the distance to her new abode. Never underestimate me.......
However! She promised to be home, with food in the oven and shower facilities wide open for my use. Basically a perfect plan.

As expected last Saturday dawned absolutely freezing your balls off cold (19). But not windy, or snowing, or any of the other things that might have really bothered me.
I ate some food, put on an odd combination of layers, threw bags of snacks, extra clothing, spare shoes, and a partridge in a pear tree into the car and off I went. It was fucking cold.

The amazing PLANNNNN!!:
I mentally broke the run into a few chunks.
The first 12 would take me over some decent hills and then into Norway, where I was planning to stop at Café Nomad to touch base with Eric.
The middle 10 would be a combination of a long, flat and boring as all hell stretch of road, followed by the first 2 of several mega hills.
I expected to final 13 to be a challenge both mentally and physically. I decided to simply not think that far ahead. Good plan Bradlowski, good plan.

And finally, THE FIRST 12 MILES!!!
Eric ran a few miles with me and then dashed back home to prepare for the role of amazing Sherpa/cheerleader/EMT. I paced well thru the first 12, and they were pleasant (according to plan. boom.)
Mile 0.7. Take note of the high fashion, especially the scarf and safety vest combo of excellence.
I saw Eric drive by me around mile 11 along with the rest of the world. There was more traffic than I could shake a stick at! *stay off my damn roads you damn kids!*
I ran into the Café to try to partially dry off my sweaty body- I was concerned with the effect of being damp (soggy) in the cold conditions but was hesitant to change into my spare clothing so early on (in retrospect, I should have.) This was the longest break I took all day and it came in at about 11 minutes- and included the bathroom pit stop/drying off/observing the fact that my old disgusting running shirt was crunchy (gross)/eating a few potato chunks/rehashing the route and plan.
(I need to clarify the potato thing. I eat whole, baked, salted potatoes. Not raw ones- raw potatoes are gross you guys! And I don't like gross.)

And with all of that taken care of off I dashed.
Or hobbled. Apparently, my body thought we were done at 12 and the act of hitting the restart button triggered some massive rebellion. Unfortunately, I was also seriously cold at that point but with frozen death fingers was able to text Eric and see if he could find some extra handwarmers. He caught up with me around mile 14, gave me the warmers and my life was saved.

The time where I questioned my sanity:
Right on cue, around mile 16 I started to question my life choices. I was an uncomfortable mixture of clammy and warm and cold, my legs were not exactly impressed (which- at mile 16 seemed a little bitchy to me), I was having some issues with people literally trying to run me over and the whole day seemed like a really questionable decision.
(the good news: at some point during almost every long, challenging run this happens. You just have to ride it out but honestly people- what a pain in the ass.)

Here comes tiny orange clad me.

 I met up with Eric again at 19 and said something like "I could be done now" but I didn't really mean it. I ran into the gas station for another pee break (I swear I have the worlds most dainty bladder), once again I grabbed some potato chunks and off I ran again. OR FUCKING WALKED. My legs were all "HEY. HEY LADY. IT'S US. YOUR LEGS!!! WE AREN'T MOVING BWAHAHAHA!!"

*sigh* Anyway, after a moment or two they got back with the program and we were off. Sort of.

I won't get into the tedious details of mile 16-23 but they were not the most glorious moments of my existence. It happens. You just eat a Picky Bar, complain to your husband, suck it up and carry on.

When things began to improve!
I met Eric at mile 23 and changed my shoes. I wasn't having any issues in my Hoka's but felt that with more walking and hills soon to come I'd jump into my Mizunos since those are pretty easy to walk in. Yeah, I had a moment of doubt at this point regarding my ability to finish but it wasn't particularly noteworthy. (although I'm noting it out of my typical need to be brutally honest.)

"We could just drive the rest of the way to Angie's for lunch maybe?"
I decided that I would suffer it out and see how I was feeling at the Marathon point.
Happily, right after the 25 mile marker, knowing that I had less than 10 to go I knew I could finish and that it would be a silly, slackey, lame decision to bail. At times like these I get a little shouty with myself "YOU CHOOSE THIS" I shout "NOBODY IS FORCING YOU!!!" "YOU SAY YOU LIKE THIS MADNESS!!!" And other motivational shit, you guys get it.

And at mile 25 when things were rough. A REAL motivational sign! BFF love right there.
I was still running most of the time in a slow, intoxicated looking manner but walking up the hills at the toppest of top walking speeds that I could manage. I expect that people in the towns I ran thru probably thought that there was something legitimately wrong with me. Especially when I start busting out tunes.
Which brings us to....

When you get to discover what goes on in my head. Yikes:
-I did a good amount of thinking about a variety of topics. Good stuff like Dr. Who, like my fear of making Mac&cheese and having the sauce separate, how pleased I was with my successful shoe modifications, and what I wanted for dinner and do we have any Ramen??
-I sang (in my head. mostly.)  "do you want to build a snowman" for MILES and am now hoping that I never sing that song again. Around mile 27 or so I sang like, 4 Heart songs in a row which was very retro of me, plus very awesome. At mile 30 I made up a song called "ouch" and- you guessed it- all the lyrics were "ouch!"
-I noticed allllll sorts of shit on the road
a: a dead owl which I was very upset to see
b: a toilet plunger. yep.
c: some really dirty horses. like, days of dirt dirty. you all know how I feel about that....
d: jerks in trucks trying to scare me
e: road art from Angie!!!!
f: construction

The final stretch. Thank God right? What a stupid-long recap!
Luckily I saw Eric about every 2 miles after mile 20. I was constantly needing food and water and Gatorade and to pee in apple orchards. So high maintenance.

The hills were really getting in the way at this point and my legs were complaining that we had been moving for far, far too long. (correct)

I stopped for chips around 30. That huge clip keeps the stuff in my back pocket from bouncing. #fashion
 At the very top of the last stupid mountain I saw Angie running towards me! It was like a freaking Christmas miracle seeing her little red socked self sprinting in my direction. A car gave her a little beep as she paused to cross the street.
"How many people have honked at you?" she eagerly inquired.
"none" I replied "unless you count that one...."
She was rather crestfallen to hear this news. Apparently I am one step short of luscious and attractive in my winter running kit.

As we rounded the corner onto Angie's street Eric was there cheering and FINALLY- after 6.5 hours on the road the sun came out. Thanks a lot sun, you really helped a girl out...

 So we finished in a blaze of glory!
HAH! What a REAL distance runner looks like. Duh.
 It took me about 3 more hours to walk up the moderate incline to Angie's house, and about 10 hours on top of that to take a shower and become a functioning member of society again.
Luckily, when I did reemerge Angie had a mountain of non-seperated Macaroni and Cheese  awaiting my arrival, Eric had cracked the pink champagne and Quinn (Angie and Jon's son) had decided to only be *mildly* suspicious of why we had arrived at his house. Luckily, he busted out his indoor lawnmower and when we were impressed he accepted us into his home. I had a lovely time eating everything in sight, complaining loudly about my self inflicted wounds and basically being a pain in everyone's butt per the usual norm.

So in hindsight I am quite glad I did this crazy run. I was pretty sore for about 24 hours and then began to recover quickly. My pace was not quick, about 10:15 or so but shit kids- 35 miles is not time to drop the hammer. It's good to note that I am very aware that I do not train in a way that would promote excellence in long distances. I more or less wing it and try to have a little fun and a few laughs along the way- I don't suggest that you follow my training plan and try to crack out a 35 (or do, and have fun along the way- not everything needs to be a serious race right?)

Thanks to everyone for the gazzilions of supportive texts, Facebook messages and tweets. I could not be more appreciative of them! Thanks also to everyone who ran their weekend Charity Miles for the "Stand Up To Cancer" charity. I donated my 35 miles to them, as well as donating to the Maine Cancer Foundation (gotta make the miles count right?) Finally though, a huge thanks to Eric and Angie (and Jon and Quinn) for the direct support before, during and after this run. It's you guys who got me to the end of this adventure still standing, coherent and smiling- without you I could not have done it!


  1. I love this. I love goals like this. I biked (so much easier) 62 miles this year when I turned 61. A friend asked why I biked 62??? Well, it's pretty damned hard to make it come out to exactly 61. I thought I did an amazing job of finding an awesome route that was so close. Good for you for doing such a hard one (IMO). I laughed at your old age of starting running. I was 50 when I started.

  2. Very impressive! Did you go up over Streaked Mountain into Buckfield? If so, I am even more impressed!

    1. Thanks! Nah I stuck to 26 the whole time except for a short detour to avoid the traffic mess around Wal-Mart. I'll have to save the run over Streaked for another time ;-)