If, however, I expected it to be as hard as it turns out to be, or harder yet, I might leave the shoes under the bed and check out what's on TV instead.
This morning I joined the Saturday morning group from A Running Start for their weekly run. Dropping Erin off to run with the Cross Country girls and Coach in Nolde Forest, I then got to the Brentwood Trailhead a few minutes early for the 7:15 start time. The others who showed up were all either long-time members of the group, or already long distance runners. As they reviewed how far each expected to run, I suddenly felt very conscious of the shorter distance that I was hoping to run. One lady was only going 8 miles, another 12, and yet another 20. The lone guy in the group, Jim, was going the distance with whoever would run the farthest. With his fancy GPS watch, and telling stories of the marathons and ultra-marathon relays he's run, he still projected a friendly, humble attitude, enthusiastic about running and everyone who gives it a try.
When it came to my turn I told them that I simply had to be back at the car by 8 o'clock so I could drive back to Nolde to pick Erin up from her trail run. Sorita took a look at her watch and said that that meant we would run 22 minutes out and back, so they could drop me back off in my time frame, and then they'd continue on for the rest of their respective distances.
And I was beginning to fear that I would be running alone.
Instead of going down the Thune Trail, with which I'm now pretty familiar, we branched off onto the Angelica Creek Trail, well marked and mostly following the creek, with more turns and little hills than the Thun. These folks like to talk and visit while they run, and Sorita and I caught up on the past few weeks as we ran. I soon needed to simply listen though, and gradually fell in with the second, and then the third rank of runners. Before long I was bringing up the rear, and assuming that I'd be running alone. They rounded another bend and were out of sight.
Then I saw Jim running back to keep me company and we gradually came back within sight of the others. Wow, was it ever getting warm,... and steamy humid. One after another, as I fell behind, these super-duper runners came alongside to keep me going with encouragement and even a squirt from a water bottle and some kind of chewy electrolyte... thing. We arrived at the turnaround point and learned that we'd run 2.3 miles already. Sorita declared it to be a fine warm-up, and we were off again.
In the end, I made it. The most significant hill on this portion of trail is right where we began, and thus, right at the end. Jim talked me through it and encouraged me to finish strong, giving me the finish point to aim for. Giving everyone the Victory sign and finishing to their cheers, I gratefully made it back to the car and my own water bottle. Driving back to Nolde to get Erin I was completely drained. I stretched once I arrived, since the girls weren't finished yet. (Without the stretching I would end up atrophying into the shape of the couch later...)
Home, green protein smoothie, shower, giving my feet some extra TLC... I am exhausted. If I had realized how very difficult it would be, I may not have gone. The heat of the morning is beginning to be really oppressive, the unexpected hills, the sauna of the humidity, all combined to wipe me out. Besides that, I'm now going far enough that I will have to invest in one of those belts to carry water, and maybe some of those chewy electrolyte... things. Frankly, squirting a bottle of water over my head would have been fabulous.
But it's a great feeling. I finished. I am glad that I went.