Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Long Run: A Postmortem

  • 10:30 PM--Plotted a 19-mile run on Google Maps.  Made mental note to pack energy bar in the morning.
  • 7:45 AM--Drove to the beach.
  • 9:00-11:30--Does chasing kids in the water park count as a "rest day"?
  • 2:00 PM--Set up camp.  
  • 4:00--Hiked to Fort Miles.
  • 7:30--Carbed up on potatoes, carrots and s'mores.
  • 8:10--Clear mental picture of an energy bar sitting on a pantry shelf back home.
  • 9:00--Went to bed with four kids and about a million gnats.  Set the alarm for 5:00 am.
  • 10:55--Fell asleep.
  • 2:10 AM--Woke up to little kicks and bites.
  • 3:15--Reconsidered falling asleep.
  • 4:00--Checked the time again.
  • 4:21--Checked the time again.
  • 4:34--Checked the time again.
  • 4:45--Gave up. Got up.
  • 4:50--Water, dried apricots, and a cold s'more.
  • 4:55--So many stars on the path to the restroom.
  • 5:05--Start.  
  • 5:12--Running into the dark is a new experience.  The light from my iPod is actually bright enough to be distracting.
  • 5:20--4 coastal miles south from Cape Henlopen to Rehoboth Beach.  Wet sand is another new experience.  Hard to tell, but there seem to be little crabs everywhere.  Twisted left knee avoiding one.  Feels like a headwind blowing from the south.  So far, so good.
  • 6:00--Done with sand.  Thank goodness for the boardwalk.
  • 6:10--Dewey Beach.  The headwind is relentless and exhausting.  I shouldn't be sweating this hard this soon.
  • 6:20--Sunrise.  Seriously, the headwind needs to stop.  Tall grasses and branches all bend back in my direction.
  • 6:25--For all practical purposes, the inlet between the Atlantic and Rehoboth Bay goes on forever.
  • 6:35--Midpoint turnaround.  Goodbye headwind, hello tailwind.
  • 6:40--This should be easier.  Now would be a good time for an energy bar and some Gatorade.
  •  6:55--Running back through Dewey, I know I shouldn't stop to walk, but give in for a minute or two.  All my clothes are sopping and I'm really quite thirsty.
  • 7:10--Not sure whether it helps to make loud, anguished panting sounds, but give it my best shot.  
  • 7:15--Give in and walk some more.  It feels like a cop out, but I just don't have it in me.
  • 7:25--Rehoboth!  The boardwalk!  Public drinking fountains!  I drink so very, very much and pick up running for another mile.
  • 7:35--Back to tidal sand.  I can't deal with sand right now.  Start the slow walk back up the beach.
  • 8:00--Turns out walking on sand isn't much better than running on it.  Beads of sweat are dripping off the edges of my shorts.  Actually have to stop and lean forward on my knees several times.  Wish I had a phone to call K. and tell her not to worry.  Almost knocked over by two large dogs.
  • 8:30--I swear this beach is twice as long as it was this morning.  Wish I had a phone to call K. and tell her to please come rescue me.
  • 8:40--Finally back to paved park roads.  It's hot and I no longer have any spit.  Not a good sign.
  • 8:45--Sit down on the side of the road.  It surprises me how hard it is to stand back up.
  • 8:47--Walk a short stretch and have to sit down again.   Very very thirsty.  Maybe if I look pathetic enough a car will stop and ask me what's the matter.  This is actually what's going through my mind.
  • 8:50--Still sitting in the same spot.  Only one car has gone by a few minutes ago and they didn't stop.  Arms and legs feel heavy and tingling.  I start to wonder if I'm in shock.  It occurs to me that I'm in serious trouble and might die.
  • 8:55--A park ranger truck!  I wave feebly and he stops.  Ask for water and a ride back to camp as I might possibly be dehydrated.  I honestly don't think I could have walked the last mile and a half.
  • 9:00--Dropped off at the camp where K. and the kids have just finished praying for my return.  Two bottles of Gatorade, two bowls of Honeycombs, two hard-boiled eggs and a half a can of pineapple finally manage to beat back the Reaper.  K. and I reaffirm our love for each other and our mutual gratitude that I am not lying dead on the side of the road.
Things I Didn't Know At the Time:
  • Those 19 miles?  Closer to 20.  Stupid lousy Google Maps and its inability to measure unpaved distances.
  • Hurricane Bill was moving up the Atlantic on Friday morning, hence the strong northerly headwind.
  • I've run in 85% humidity before, but never at such high temperatures (mid-to-high 80s that felt like mid-to-high 90s).  That, plus sand, plus running into the wind for the first ten miles, would seem to account for the massive losses of body water.
  • It is not just a good idea to eat something halfway through a 20-mile run.  Next week I am going to go out the night before and stash some food and drink along the route.
  • 20 miles is not as easy as 18 miles.  Now they tell me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going (Mid)west

S. and I have been thinking a lot about travel, pining after places that we haven't seen in years and hankering after places we've only heard of.  For example, we haven't seen Yellowstone since we were newlyweds, and our kids have never seen it; we have some great memories of southern Utah's landscapes, but it's been 9 years since we've been there; and we'd love to see New Mexico's crystal caves, White Sands, and famous hot air balloon festival.  I could go on and on, because we've never even done the Church history sites at this end of the country, nor have our kids seen NYC, New England, the Outer Banks, etc.

S. recently brought home a book from the library, 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die, and we've been drooling over it.  I feel pleased that I've seen 23 of the 1001, but nearly all of them were before I was married and there are so many more.  The book has also reminded me that I want our kids to be hikers, so that they can really get off the beaten path and make some of the kinds of memories that I cherish from my youth.  Maybe we don't need to follow the crowd and take our kids to Disneyworld, we need to camp at the beach and show them the Perseids or take them canoing in Algonquin, Ontario.  (Thanks, Mom, for both of those experiences, I'll never forget them.)

In the meantime, however, we took our almost-yearly trek to my hometown of Detroit, and for the first time stopped in Hershey and spent a day at the amusement park.  We pass it every year, but with a 10-hour drive to Michigan, we've never been able to fit it in.  This time, we got a motel and the kids got to experience their first roller coasters.

Sage was tall enough to ride much, much more than she had any desire to, and none of us went on the real thrillers, but there was so much there that everyone had a blast.  

Unfortunately, we left the sunscreen in the car and ended up very badly burned and peeling for a week.

Arriving in Michigan was more predictable and familiar, but that has its merits too.  It's really nice for me to be back there regularly, to feel the pull of my roots and remember what I love about home.  (Someday we'll have to take S. back to Oregon, because I know he's feeling the distance too, now that his parents have moved.)

The kids were able to spend plenty of time with their one cousin in Michigan, getting to know each other better while learning how to bowl, swimming at Belle Isle, and finding sticks and critters and mud out in Detroit's wonderful Metroparks.

It's a marvelous world we live in, I hope we get to see more of it.