Anyone who has run with me for a decent amount of time knows a particular quirk of mine: I HATE running around Lake Merced in San Francisco. In fact, it is so despised by me that I refer to it only by the name coined by my running buddy, Janine.
I don’t know what it is about this spot; history tells us it was once an Indian burial ground and that it was the site of an infamous duel, not to mention several notorious shootings. In any case, all that bad juju has resulted in Lake Mersucks being a soul-sucking, energy-draining, maddening 4.5 mile loop that feels as though it’s actually 20 miles–and I simply can not seem to run it without wanting to cry/spit/curse.
So when our 18 mile run was scheduled to take place here today, you can imagine that I was not exactly looking forward to it. The last few times I’ve run this course, I’ve had a bad run. The most recent occurrence was last year, when we not only got wind, rain, and hail, but worse: were forced to run around the lake not once, but TWICE. I vowed never, ever again to do that.
Today, however, I had a good feeling that I was going to conquer this lake, and indeed, the entire run. I had a feeling I was going to do this, because I was running with a few of my closest cancer ass kicker runner friends.
Sure enough, the run started out great and much to my surprise, continued to be great–I was in a groove and any fear I had about running the entire way faded pretty quickly because even when the tough times came, they went away on their own, and before I knew it, I was coming up on mile 18.
I’m not going to lie, I was BEYOND EXHAUSTED by that point. In fact, I was exhausted as early as mile 16. I wanted to quit so badly at that point. Up until then, I was in an unbelievable zone–in fact, from mile 13 to mile 16, I felt as though someone else was moving my legs for me. I didn’t feel tired in the least and I was just rollin’ along. Then came mile 16 and it was as though a switch flipped. I felt walloped by fatigue and my muscles felt super, super tight. Each step felt tougher than the last, and the final straw came when my hands started to tingle. By the time I hit the 17.5 mile mark, I finally gave in and started walking. That’s when I realized that the course was marked a little long again, and there was going to be an extra distance beyond 18 miles.
And as in the last run, just when I was at my lowest moment, I looked up and saw a dragonfly flutter past, and I knew that was Siobhan’s way of saying, “Suck it up, girl. You only have to run around the corner and you’re home free!” And so I did. I don’t know how I did, but I did. When I stopped, every muscle seized up and I couldn’t even hold any stretches long enough for them to do any good. But I did it!! I really did make it to just about 18 miles without stopping for a walk break.
The best part? I finished the run in 3 hours and 27 minutes, which unbelievably, is LESS TIME than it took me to run/walk my very first half marathon. Wow.
As always, this run was made all the more fun by my incredible running buddies. It’s an understatement to say that I couldn’t do these runs without them. And of course, having my favorite dragonfly keep me company, encouraging me in the end is making all the difference in the world. Thank you to all of you :).