Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soul Singing

Home bound
Tired of running town to town
Tired of my heart turned upside down
Now my life's a smile not a frown . . .

You got my soul singing my soul singing . . .
from Soul Singing by The Black Crowes

Yesterday I ran my long run. No big deal and nothing really blog worthy about that fact. Last few years I've been doing a long run about every week of the year except in the summer months then maybe it was one every few weeks. This past fall though I started doing the 3 hour run sometimes twice a week and well, that just didn't work out so well for me. Not saying it wouldn't work for some people but for this late-to-discover-running-thirty-eight-year-old-mother-of-two-who-once-shattered-her-pelvis-and-still-a-bit-crooked it just didn't pan out.

But I do so love the 3 hour run. It is what gets my "soul singing".

Okay, not totally true. I really, really hate the first hour of the 3 hour run. I will procrastinate the heck out of starting it and then for the first seven miles I think about not doing it, cutting it short and sometimes just calling this whole running thing quits. I obsess during those early miles about every little thing: I might be too cold, this or that hurts, I am running too slow, I am tired, my outfit is all wrong, the hills are, somehow, steeper today than they were last week, I hate all my ipod music, and nothing feels quite right. But then I am at Walgreens and run in, pee, have Gu, some water from their fountain and I return to the sidewalk feeling better than when I started and now with a "can do!" attitude. For that second hour I run a little too fast and only worry a little about how much that is going to hurt me in the final hour.

Usually in that second hour I stop to buy Gatorade and the man behind the counter at the gas station on Johnson Ferry and Roswell Road alternately will either call me crazy, tell me I am beautiful or suggest that I should run to his house in Lawerenceville (which according to him is 24 miles from the store)and be his wife. On days when I look a little miserable he offers me a ride to his house in Lawerenceville. I don't know his name and he doesn't know mine but for once a week for over the past two years he has been a staple of my 21 mile weekly run.

By the end of the second hour or beginning of the third I usually have a low point. Sometimes, when I don't have it, I worry. I worry because that means catastrophe could be just around the corner. Like earlier this year when in the middle of mile 20 my ankle started hurting and it took me over 20 minutes to limp the final mile home. Agony.

So there is a little bit of comfort when the discomfort comes. Sure I have a bit of a pity party when it arrives but then I get "done" with myself and dig in. I know the best is about to come once I climb out of the valley of darkness. I know this is all self created but getting to triumph over adversity once a week really does help me deal with everything else that comes my way in the rest of my life. So yeah, basically, the long run helps me cope. Once upon a time Ritalin was the drug that made me right; now running is that drug. But that is a boring story for another time.

I love arriving at mile 17. Four miles to go. And now, it is mostly downhill until the final mile and half and at that point I won't care about running up a hill or three. It is always (unless catastrophe strikes) in the those final 30 so minutes that my soul starts its song. Sure I am spent, my hips a little achy, my hamstrings beyond annoyed with me and it would be completely impossible for me to make a sudden movement right or left but it is like my body is locked into running and it isn't going to stop until I get home. I love everything and I am so freaking happy! And it is so funny because at this point I am running on the same road I ran out on and only a few hours earlier I really, really hated this road and everything in the world. Funny how much your perspective can change on a three hour tour.

And always, always-- no matter if it is my regular 21 or I went crazy and ran 25 miles-- I run as hard and fast as I can manage up the final hill to my house. And, I will admit, many times to throwing up my arms and inwardly, okay sometimes outwardly, cheering for myself. And nearly every time as I get to my house I think about cartwheeling across my lawn to my front door. But, again, I am not too sure about my coordination for any movement other than running. So of course, I just slow down and walk happily into my house. But the cartwheels, or if I am really ambitious, the aerials? In my mind I did them. That is how I feel. And I guess if you have never cartwheeled or done an aerial or a flip then you just don't know how awesome and cool that feeling is: that spinning, for a split second, sideways, upside down and all round through the world feeling. That is how I feel after a long run.

But now I am sad.

The major artery that makes my perfect 21 mile run possible is closed. They are taking the bridge out on Sewell Mill Road. It will be out until June. They have a detour but if I follow it puts my run over 22 and I will have to run along Roswell Road. And that means I will have to switch sides just so I can be on the sidewalk to get to Old Canton (which a small portion of right there doesn't have sidewalk). That's no good. Never mind that is a just an ugly stretch to have to run along. Plus, I really like running down Providence Rd and Bill Murdock Rd and past the neighborhood I grew up in before I moved to Roswell. I always have a new memory from when I was little pop in my head. It is a nice little surprise and a great diversion.

So I've been searching for a new route. I tried one out yesterday. And it was too long--just over 23 miles. I was thinking though if it worked out I could just do it every 2 weeks and do a 16 mile run on the week in between.

The route took me from my house in East Cobb to Historic Roswell and back. But the Roswell stretch of Shallowford Road has no sidewalk and the soft shoulder is scary. Too many big trucks never mind the big hills. The hills though would be find if I had sidewalk. But running up that big of hill and having to look at the ground so I don't twist my ankle and fall into incoming traffic is just too stressful. Then the coming back along highway 92 is just sucky. 92 is always a wind tunnel. So this route is, sadly, no good.

For me a good running route-- from my house-- will be side walked and it needs to be a big loop that forces me to do the run (if I have to run past my house or have the opportunity to cut it short I probably will.) It also needs to have places I can stop to pee and get water. I don't like having to carry stuff and this is the suburbs; I can't just pee in someone's front yard. But those are just the basics. Ideally a good route will be somewhat scenic. Running along a 4 lane road past strip malls is not scenic in my opinion.

So I am still searching. I haven't looked into a route that will take me out towards Marietta or Woodstock so that could be an option. . .


  1. I love the story about the Gatorade man from Lawrenceville. Those are the little things that keep us going. Nice long run. Sorry about the artery.

  2. What if you ran to my house? There is a potty and Gu there if someone is home and if not, you can get water and a potty on the golfcourse, plus there is the Leita and the RAP for the water/potties. If you ran out to 92 and across at Wiley Bridge, you could go down to Mtn. Park and then thru BF. The only dicey part would be Wiley Bridge b/c windy and no sidewalk bit it is down hill. Hmm.

  3. Steph you say this but you must tell this to Doug because he might try to ward me off with Brussel sprouts.

    There is the Mabry/Sandy plains to Leita loop possibility. But Mabry is tough with that steep down and up. Old Mt Park Road to Mt Park is an option too. Not sidewalked the whole way but there is space on the shoulder. I am worried Wiley is too curvy and there is no shoulder.
    Anway, you gave me some ideas. And do like this idea of your house as Gu stop. Though I know the girls would be all cute and distract me into playing Barbies or princess with them. And Doug might be feeling generous and give me a beer. . . Hmm, maybe I just end my runs at your house.

  4. ShutupandRun I am going to miss that guy. Even if it isn't true (especially when running for 3 hours) being told you're pretty always makes a person feel good. I'm easy like that.

  5. OMG, Goldilocks is in trouble! Too long, too short, too Walgreens-less...
    Great post though. I really missed your blog, like I miss the 13+ mile run...

  6. I know. Always with the picky.