So what if it rains?

So it has rained for nearly a week straight.  Tuesday was dry, I think.  It has been a busy work week, where I’ve hardly gotten home before dark most evenings.  And the sun sets by 7pm these days?  Doesn’t it seem like just a couple weeks ago where we didn’t even start our rides until 6:30pm and we could fit in 40 miles on the bike and still be home with copious amounts of daylight remaining?

On the Wednesday Dirty ride, it was just Joel and me, and we left late because I was rushing home from work and having to stop at the hospital for yummy CT contrast, but at least it was warm.  I didn’t pay attention to the weather forecast, because the sun was out most of the day as I sat at my desk and wanted nothing but to be on my bike, so that by the time I got home, the radar map full of green would never dissuade me.

We headed south and fought the wind until we got to the good gravel roads, where we already had to switch on our headlamps.  But we rode the dirt and chatted and tried to spot the sandy sections with what little light there was and it started raining but I honestly can’t tell you when it started raining.  We were just riding and that was all I wanted to do in the world at that moment.  And the rained began falling in buckets, and there was a fresh layer of ungroomed sand on 122nd Street to prepare for winter conditions so we dodged tire ruts and pushed onward.  And I threw on a jacket to keep warm, because we were still by Fennville, and even with the tailwind, we were nowhere near home.

I imagine the few cars that did pass by us in the downpour with our tiny front and rear lights thought we were crazy, but warm fall nights are a rarity now, and what else would you rather be doing but riding?  I couldn’t not smile.

We chatted in sand-covered legs over a beer with Jim about bikes and riding and Colorado and racing and cyclocross and who cares about the rain?

Pretty soon it will turn to snow and my only concern is finding the right pair of cross country skis to buy before that happens.

Chicago Marathon 2012

I’ve been struggling trying to find the right words to sum up running the marathon last week.  You see, it was 100% more fun than running it last year, and yet, I’m still trying to figure out for myself why I even have run 4 marathons in the first place.  The other week Run Wild by Boff Whalley (yes, that Boff Whalley) came in the mail, and so far it’s exactly what I always wanted What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to be.  The entire premise of the book is that the city marathon is the antithesis of what running should be – and I’m half-inclined to agree.  It’s a long story.

Anyway.

They changed the start of the marathon this year to have 2 waves – one starting at 7:30am, the other starting at 8am.  Because I didn’t have a qualifying time to get in the first wave, Ian and I started in the first corral of the second wave.  Which made the first 2 miles of the race completely different from last year.  The road was spacious and uncrowded and we started off running faster than we planned, but it felt good, so we stuck with it.

The last corral of the first wave included all of the charity runners.  I don’t know what the average finishing time for charity runners is, but it’s certainly much slower than my running pace.  By mile 3, we were passing people walking.  Walking.  At mile 3, with at least a 15 minute head start.

Skinny legs

Ian and I continued to run about 7:20 min/miles, and started getting really good at dodging people as we passed them on the road.  Really good.  Because we dodged people from mile 3 all the way until the finish.  It was annoying.  But we were flying, and feeling good, and it was just so much better than last year that it hardly seemed like work at all.  At every mile check, I compared our time to what my PR’s were from 2 years ago, and my splits were almost the same.  At the 10k mark, we were only 30 seconds slower than my PR from 2 years ago.  At the half marathon mark, we were actually faster than I ever ran a half marathon aside from the Park 2 Park race from a couple weeks ago.

We were holding a really good pace, even if we slowed a bit, everything flew by faster than last year, and I actually didn’t space out and remembered running miles 17-20 this year.  The little things stand out more than last year, even though they all passed by much faster.  It was really a lot more enjoyable to run 54 minutes faster than last year and spend less time out on the course.  It was also a lot easier to run with other people.  From mile 7 until 23 or so, Ian and I ran with another girl who was going exactly our pace, which actually made running a lot easier during the later miles.  When the urge to walk starts settling into your mind, it’s good to have other people next to you to motivate you to keep running.

So I don’t really know what else to say.  We ran a marathon.  In 3:21:39.  Which is pretty fast, I think.  We crossed the finish and were stunned at what we’d just done.  It all came together better than I predicted.  I’m literally shocked that I can run so fast.

Will I ever run another city marathon?  I don’t know.  I just know that I’ll continue to run, and continue to seek out the unknown.

It’s Fall!

color blast
My commute to and from work is lined with trees for miles and miles that, just in the past week, have seen their leaves go from all green to a hint of yellow, to full on orange, to blood red.  It’s much more scenic than the commute I had for the past 4 years, even if it is over twice as long.  So after my annual rereading of this excellent McSweeney’s piece, I’ve been getting out of the house and watching the colors and enjoying the wonderful weather we’ve had here in Michigan, where all the trees are just the right height.

Last week I went to Grand Rapids 4 times.  To go for long walks in the city while drinking iced coffee and soaking in Artprize, to see a funny movie and enjoying time with others even if we completely missed this, to drink good beer, to race a little cyclocross, to just get out of the house and go do things.  It was all so great.  Every week should be like that.

Jack Kunnen Photography: Richmond Park &emdash; IMG_6620

I had a good race.   Finished 8th or so.  Maybe by the end of the season I’ll move up to the “A” race.  It just feels good to bust your legs and lungs for 45 minutes straight.  I’m technically tapering for the marathon on Sunday, but I can’t stop moving.  I just want to ride my bike and be outside and get dirty.