from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chips’n’Salsa Half-Marathon

I woke up in the morning with a dream – I had run a half-marathon in more then two hours and a half. I was roaming around in search of food. By the end of the dream the half had turned to a full I had run in more than five hours and a half, and I was wondering how come all these races get more and more difficult.

Awake, I had only once certainty – I have never accomplished a PR. But I started out as calm as could be. This was a training run, no pressure attached.

The organizing details turned out to be somewhat sketchy. Parking spots were scarce, a truck with markers got delayed, the race started late. I chatted with a soldier going to Iraq next year – a cool, down-to-earth guy. The morning was cool too, a perfect day for running. By the time we assembled for the start, the clouds converged on the top of the mountains in a dramatic unfurling of gold and gray.

We were running on the old Camino Real, the vital artery that in past centuries connected deep Mexico to Santa Fe. Loads of chocolate, saffron, cinnamon, sweet meats, dried shrimp, and oysters had been hoisted north along the dirt road of once. Now it was paved, with expanses of green left and right, grasshoppers chirping, cows mooing, flies buzzing around runners striving ahead.

It drizzled just the slightest bit, so discreetly that you could run between rain drops.

I did not feel as if I had run a marathon the week before – the leg muscles were loose, the knee clamped in its supportive band was inconspicuous – but I felt tired. The miles were too long, much longer than I knew them to be. For the duration of the whole race, and much more so after the turning point at 6.5 miles, I was split between the urge to forge ahead at all cost, and the temptation to just relax with the flow. What I was trying to accomplish pushing myself, I did not know.

In the end I did both. Pushing myself and taking walking breaks. On the way back I stopped to read the historic marker on the side of the road, at the dividing line between common ground and the territory of Tuf Shurn Tui. It was the first time I came upon the real name of the former pueblo on the Sandia reservation. Tuf Shurn Tui.

There were miles stretches, not full miles, but almost, when I just tuned into the beat, when running ceased to be this effort I was exerting, and became this thing I could do. I might have even managed a negative split – we cannot trust my aptitude to deal with numbers while running, but even if my computation is wrong I came close to it.

It all became easier when I had the last turn-off in sight, and the effort to sprint almost brought tears to my eyes. What for, I asked. But I crossed the line with a finish so strong and exhilarating I wished the idea to storm ahead would have occurred to me earlier. Wishful thinking, I guess.

The medal was an ingenious sliver of metal in the shape of a chip with salsa splattered on a corner. The reality of the southwestern breakfast was more mundane. But I had not fueled at all during the race. That means I was not nauseous but hungry, and the burrito kept warm in aluminum foil was a treat.

2:20:28, better than expected. This race, just a trial run of sorts, gave me almost as much satisfaction as the marathon preceding it.


At 8:05 PM, Blogger Backofpack said...

Nicely done, and as usual, beautifully written. Look at you! Two marathons, a half marathon just a week later, effortless feelings in the same run as fatigue, a sprint to the finish that was you have become a Runner. Chasing the feelings, feeling the flow, signing on for more...way to go Lia!

At 8:21 PM, Blogger robtherunner said...

Way to go, Lia!

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

WOW 2:20 ? That's fantastic Lia!

But, what's even more impressive is that you did two races back to back, the whole and then the half , instead of the other way around.

Are you turning pro or something?

Nice Job !

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Deene said...

Well done!

At 11:06 AM, Blogger JustRun said...

Well done! Again, I would have loved to do that race. Go you!

Coincidentally, (or non-coincidentally maybe) at my half last week I recorded an almost identical finish time. Hmmmm... :)

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Joe said...

Great time! Well done!

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice job! The idea of a medal in the shape of a chip w/ salsa - how fun! :) Nice time on your run. Keep up the good work.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger R2B said...

Still going strong Lia!

At 6:37 AM, Blogger RunBubbaRun said...

Great job out there, back to back long races, wohooo..

Getting hardcore out there.. Sounded like an easy run for ya..

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

You rock! You did that the weekend after a marathon?!?!?

Nicely done. I surely woudl have held you back had you attempted to run my dismal pace...

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Nobel4Lit said...

I hope to get a similar time to your PR in my upcoming half! My PR is something closer to the time you ran in your dream/nightmare.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Darrell said...

This is great. Too have that finish after running a marathon the week before is really super. Congrats to you.

I really like the name of this race and a burrito post-race, even one wrapped in aluminum foil, sounds good to me.


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