Let's start with this question: Whose idea was this anyway? It was Andy's idea. Andy put this foolish thought in my head and my silly self went ahead and signed up for it. 20 miles on Martha's Vineyard in February, yeah that's bright! Guess what? IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!
Backing up a bit, the Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler was a race we had listed on the winter agenda for the entire team. It was tough to do as a team for a number of reasons: not everyone would be ready for 20 miles, traveling logistics, it was the week before the Hyannis Half Marathon (separate post to come later). At any rate, since it was on the list, I registered for it - not even knowing if I would physically be able to do it. As the time for the race got closer, we realized that only three of us had actually registered for this race: Jill, Nicky and I. We discussed skipping it, we discussed the best way to approach it, we ran long miles in the snow, we ran longer miles in the negative temperatures, we cursed ourselves for thinking this was smart and we made plans to head down to the Cape and run this bad boy for real.
Jill, Pam and I stayed at Diane's - as has become customary for the Cape races. Though this one was a bit different because neither Rick nor Diane was there. Don't get me wrong, the girls and I had a blast, but Rick and Diane were definitely missed. After sushi dinner, ice cream and many bananas, we headed to bed with the plan set - meet John and Nicky at the ferry at 8am and hit the island. The weather forecast said mid-30s - much warmer than we were used to - however, it was also due to be windy. I am not talking 10-20 mile an hour winds, I am talking 25-30mph winds, with gusts up to 50mph. Yes 50. Now, as some of you know, Nicky and Jill are little ladies. I was fairly convinced that I was going to be taking a dip in the ocean to pull one of them out if they happened to be caught by a gust of wind just right as we ran along the coast! Thankfully, that didn't happen, but my GOSH was it windy.
Nicky and I had decided, before heading down to the Cape, that we were going to enjoy this run. Neither of us was looking to set any records and we sure as hell weren't planning on winning. I had even gone so far as to say that if it came down to it, I would walk. I'm not ashamed. Heidi was pretty adamant the week before that if Nicky just ran with me (as I am generally slower) she would be fine. With Heidi's voice in Nicky's head, and our joint desire to enjoy the run, Nicky and I decided we would run together. Nicky graciously let me set the pace, though we had a mutual agreement that if either of us felt we were in a groove and wanted to take off, we should feel free to do so.
When we arrived on the island, Pam and John took off for their 6-mile training run (we were running a half marathon the following week, you know) and Jill, Nicky and I headed to the playhouse to chill out and wait for the start. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was pretty nice - until the wind blew. Boy did it blow! John brought his bike so he could ride along the course and bring us whatever we needed - Gatorade, tissues, everything! Pam lugged our bags (we had a lot of crap) and also got to visit with her family.
Note the amount of stuff...whoops!With about 20 minutes to go before the start, we headed back down to Vineyard Haven and prepared to set out for a few hours of running. Few hours - seriously, who voluntarily runs for "hours"?!? It was windy and it was a little chilly with that wind, so we were ready to get moving.
Finally, the gun was shot and we were OFF! Jill stayed with us for about 7 steps and then we didn't see her again until a little loopy portion at mile 5. Nicky and I chatted and ran and chatted some more. Actually, I am pretty sure Nicky did a lot more listening than she did talking, but, hey - we kept ourselves occupied (you know - because running wasn't doing it?!?). The first 10 or so miles seemed to pass by fairly quickly. The wind was pretty much at our back and we were cruising right along - keeping a fairly steady 9:45-10:00 pace. I felt good - Nicky felt good - it was ALL GOOD! John caught us just before mile 10 and pointed out that were making great time, which made us feel great and he jetted off to catch Jill so he could give her whatever fuel she might need from his bag o' goodies. We saw him again at Mile 11.5, where we both drank a quick Gatorade Prime and headed back on our merry little way.As Nicky and I continued to run, the chatter got less and less, but we were both still feeling pretty good. Well, at least that was what we told each other. Ok, I kid...a little. I noticed as we passed the 1/2 Marathon Mark (13.1 for those non-runners out there) that I had run my fastest half marathon in the midst of a 20-mile road race. While I was pretty excited about that, I was also a bit concerned because that meant I was running much faster than normal and I still had 7 miles to go. Thank GOD for Nicky!!!! We had already started getting excited because we were into single digits with the number of miles left - WAHOO! We got to 13.8, which left us with only a 10K to go. We could both do that - no problem. As we cruised through the woods, and now into the gusting wind, our pace slowed a little, but we were still consistently within the 10-10:45 pace. As we bee-bopped along the trail, we passed some ladies who had stopped to walk. They would eventually get going again and fall in with us because, as they said, we had a pretty decent pace going. We mentioned that this was a training run for us. When they asked what we were training for, we told them a half marathon in Hyannis. The confusion that followed entertained me and Nicky quite a bit. The first question was "Isn't this longer than a half marathon?" and the second was "Wait - Hyannis is next weekend, right?" Uh, yes and yes. Those girls told us we were crazy - this, however, did not surprise us in the least. We both know we are nuts!
Finally, we saw John at Mile 15, where I dropped off my iPod that I had never turned on, grabbed a drink, quickly told him I ran a super-fast (for me) 1/2 Marathon and off we went! With 5 miles left, and feeling it in our legs, we tried not to stay still for too long. Initially, I had told Nicky that all I wanted out of this race was to not be last and not have to be driven to the end because of the time limit. As we ran and we were both feeling good, I came clean and told her that I really wanted to finish under 3.5 hours. Once we left John at 15 miles, it was clear that we could, if we kept our current pace, get in under 3.5 hours. With that knowledge, Nicky suggested that if, as we approached the finish line, we saw that we were close, we should haul ass to try to beat the 3.5 hour mark. I agreed. By Mile 17, with less than 5K to go - we were both VERY quiet! I knew my legs were about done, but I didn't want to say anything. I WANTED 3.5 hours. God Bless Nicky because all the while I was thinking "what the eff..." and she just looked at me and said "You know...I really could be done right about now." We laughed and talked about how running is really fun - to a point. Then it gets old... HA! Obviously we weren't going to stop - and as I told Nicky, and anyone who happened to be within earshot or ask for days after, if not for Nicky being there - I probably would have stopped and walked. But I didn't - and then we turned the corner and we saw pink - it was PAM! And guess what kids...we hauled some ass...
56 seconds. We were over 3.5 hours by 56 measly seconds. You know what though - my garmin said 3:28 and the race wasn't chip-timed, it was gun-timed. So, as far as I am concerned - I ran this baby in 3.5 hours. It was the most enjoyable 20-miles, 3:30.56 of running ever - because Nicky was with me the entire time. Jill finished 20 minutes before us. She's amazing and it was a huge mental accomplishment for her as well because she, up to that point, had never run that far or long by herself. We are always training with a group, so there is always someone there. For this run, it was just her and her iPod and she ROCKED it! For me - this was the longest run I have ever completed that didn't involve any "walking". I completed a marathon in 2008, but I didn't run the entire 26.2 miles. On this day, I do not think I could have gone another 10K, mostly because I was dead-set, in my mind, at 20 miles. I also know for a FACT that I would not have run all 20 of these miles without Nicky. As much as she struggled mentally for the last 3 miles (she was singing in her head - "We're gonna see Pam, Jill and John; Pam, Jill and John; Pam, Jill and John" for those last few miles) - her presence on my right side for the entire run kept me happy and moving and I LOVE her for that. Well, I love her for a number of reasons, but on that windy day - I loved her most for running WITH me for 3.5 hours!