A brief background: January 26th (yesterday) was my 22nd birthday. I had come up with the idea well in advance that it'd be "epic" to run 22 miles to celebrate my birthday. A good friend made a spectacular running route that was a spectacular Tour De Rochester: my Run For Glory, so to speak. That word Glory grew from being a notion of physical undertaking to one of heightened understanding. Map of The Run For Glory.
I dedicate this run (and likely many others in the future) to both my dad and mom: who not only have instilled in me the ability to overcome obstacles, but also understand far better the difficulties and turmoil of a true endurance event than I probably ever will.
:::::The Run For Glory:::::
The preparations: I wanted this thing to go as smoothly as possible, and with some of the stomach issues I've had on longer runs I wanted to prep correctly. My intention was to not stop the whole run and just keep turning it over. While training last week was very heavy by jumping up to 15 hours from about 11 or 12, I thought an decent length but easy run/ride Sunday, real easy Monday, and easy ride Tuesday would give me sufficient rest. It was definitely enough, but I surely could have chosen a better time to amp up the training rather than last week. Nevertheless, last week was one of my more solid weeks of training across the board - even with all the rough temperatures and weather. I had my longest run ever (at the time) and am getting some proficiency on the rollers. Plus I got back into swimming even though it is only easy stuff and simple drills. So I woke up my usual 2.5+ hours before and got peanut butter jelly banana toast with honey on top. It was so delicious I considered a couple more slices of toast with it but figured that'd not be a good call. Drank some water and kicked back to a bit of COD Black Ops. I made sure my "quarterback" wrist direction card was set to go, without it I would have been quite lost after about 8 or so miles.
(About 110 turns that ensure the perfect route through Rochester)
I showered and got a little stretch/rolling of the ITB in and took a later than planned but 100% necessary pre-run weight drop that could have hit me hard about 10-15 miles in. At 7:20 grabbed my Generation UCAN pre run mix and had that by 7:35 when I left to pick up Chanse and head to the glorified and forever-established starting point of any run worth it's mileage. While this run can't hold a flame to The Roosathon (the start to the Bicentennial) or Pat's Journey to Adulthood (and Home), I am pleased to be part of an epic adventure.
When I got to the track house it looked barren. But I was pleasantly surprised by Tyler Socash and (HOLY !@#&^@*&#) BroBot!! Apparently he got in at 4AM and still mustered his drunken self out of bed to say a, albeit very incomprehensible, hello....but we all know he passed out at the door and thus was forced awake when I arrived. Anyways, Tyle's alarm clock and watch had broken within the past few days, but he managed a miraculous sub-10 preparation so we could depart exactly at 8:00:00AM. A quick piss (fourth or fifth of the morning) and we were ready to go.
The Epic Departure: With a quick tap of the watch, we were off: Tyler and BroBot holding hands (with us for 20m), Tyle, Chanse, and myself. And soon we found ourselves making our way towards the graveyard, moments after the 7:32AM sunrise (insert Ezra's mock-poetry about light and sunset/sunrise or whatever here).
Mile 1: (8:53) Probably the hardest mile, by quite a bit. The Mt. Hope Cemetery was buzzing this Wednesday morning, and the trek to see Ms. Susan B. Anthony was harder than expected as we dodged a couple snow plows (which, may I add, did not plow anything at all!). We circled Anthony's grave and headed back down to hit the solid hill toward Frederick Douglass' place of rest. Made another loop in his honor this time and were on our way to the hole in the fence by Phase.
Mile 2: (7:07) Definitely a LOT easier. Ran across campus, past Danforth, and through Wilson Quad and across the footbridge. Pretty uneventful but was rather downhill. Definitely made a little effort to get back onto pace but I guess the much more favorable running surface took care of that on its own.
Mile 3: (7:39) The entry to the 19th Ward. This mile was very eventful, only for one very contained occurrence. About halfway through (along Monica St. if I am correct) an SUV came along and nearly clipped Chanse's shoulder as it passed by. We were running 3 wide in the road, but there was no oncoming traffic and a trash truck could have safely made it past us. I'd just like to state that in all of my preparations for this run (about 30 miles roaming the 19th Ward) I had no bad experiences: some school kids made fun of me for running once but typically it's just 'man it's cold you are crazy' and a good chuckle from anyone watching.
Mile 4: (7:35) A bit along Chili Ave. - hit the sidewalks a good amount for safety. One of the longer turn-free sections of the Run For Glory (hereafter referred to as the RFG), which was only about .65 miles long. Ran past a store called "Baller's", which Tyle really liked.
Mile 5: (7:43) My last full mile with some company. Back into the 19th Ward and popped out onto Genesee St.
Mile 6: (7:49) At "about" 5.67 Tyle and Chanse headed down Genesee St. as I turned off onto Flint St. to connect back with Jefferson. I'm not sure if it was the sudden lack of conversation or company - but I got a little twinge here that my legs were going to get tired a lot earlier than expected. The first mile definitely took some out of me, but I also realized last week's training was a likely culprit. No problem though...I honestly didn't want to finish and think: "well that was kind of boring". I wanted a little bit of burn and something at least working a little bit against me, it keeps life interesting.
Mile 7: (7:36) A bit downhill along Plymouth and onto Columbia. Made sure not to get excited on the downhill as I really wanted to ensure a steady pacing, as 22 miles is a 4 mile record for me - and I wanted to enjoy it for the most part. I settled into being solo at this point and was actually quite appreciative of it. Snaking back through the 19th Ward I comfortably kept a free mind and a smart pace.
Mile 8: (7:51) Through the "Holy" part of the 19th Ward as I like to call it. Many religious offerings here along Dr. Samuel McCree Blvd: predominated by the Mt. Zion Church, the sign of which read "We walk by Soul, not by Sight", and also Zion Hill Church. Both of these Churches were banging on Sunday as I did my final course-preparation run. I felt a slight tinge of connection to the Mt. Zion Church's sign as I passed by...but it was as ephemeral as my 'pocketa-pocketa' in the quiet streets.
Mile 9: (7:45) Passed by St. Mary's, which was a nice (and unintended by Mr. Socash) addition, the location of my Senior Design Project.
Mile 10: (7:39) DANFORTH STREET!
Mile 11: (7:40) At this point I was faced with quite a dilemma. As I approached the Susan B. Anthony House I realized that my Garmin was going to be about 0.2mi short of 11.0mi. So, taking the GPS as the almighty ruler (and ensuring that all factors show a bare minimum of 22.00mi at the finished) I opted to double back at a couple points to add a total of 0.2mi on to make Ms. Anthony's House the perfected 11.00mi mark. Also, it's likely auto routing is slightly shorter than running, so it was fair to add on.
Halfway Point: 2:25:19.
Mile 12: (7:35) Pretty much straight out on Main St. West and W Broad. Ended at the 12 mile mark being the War Memorial. It was possible someone would be meeting me here, but I'm glad I had the extra miles alone.
Mile 13: (7:51) A little bit of actual city running. Sadly had to bail on the I-490 section...which was only due to the perilous aspect of the portion, not in any bit in concern if it was unlawful or not. Still feeling comfortable but that feeling I had at mile 6 definitely making itself known, albeit pretty low-key at this point. Was under the knowledge that I'd be getting a bit tired eventually, but satisfied at this aspect (still). The only major happenstance was that my IT Band at the hip started to tighten a noticeable amount. I imagined myself Tony Stark in the Ironman suit when he first attempts to break the fixed wing altitude record and his suit gets all iced up. I actually motioned the part where he cranks on his bionic hip joint to free the ice (me freeing my hip from tightness) so that he can recover somewhat before his power rebooted. I laughed a little at the ridiculousness, but wholeheartedly enjoyed the laxness by which I viewed a possibly painful upcoming 9 miles.
Mile 14: (7:29) Perfectly Maine St. East to Frontier Field (N. Plymouth). While this mile was very uneventful, I really liked the aspect that it ended up being unique. The 13th Mile ended at exactly the intersection of East and Main St. E, and the 14th Mile finished at exactly the end of Frontier Field (corner of N. Plymouth and Morrie Way).
Mile 15: (7:27) Crossed the ever-important footbridge that is part of the High Falls 6-Mile Loop. Now, to most people this is just a halfway point for an easy 6-Miler that is shortly followed by an underpass that often entails holding one's breath for its entirety. However, from the first run I did of the High Falls route this fall it brought a special meaning to me...one that makes me feel somewhat at home. The crossing of this bridge reminds me of two events I have done in the past. The first of which is the Lewiston-Auburn (Maine) Duathlon, in which I finished second place to a guy who hopefully becomes my coach in the coming year. It crosses over the Androscoggin River and goes through a pretty historic part of Lewiston, kind of like the stuff you see before reaching St. Paul St. Also, it reminds me of the portion of the Concord Triathlon where it did an out and back on the dam over the pond. This one was cool because it was my first placing at a tri. So this mile was pretty nice. Cruised through this mile really relaxed, noting I'd be seeing Mike in about 15 minutes.
Mile 16: (7:30) Joseph Ave: way less crazy than I expected. This was actually one of my favorite portions. Clean sidewalks for the first .25 miles and just smooth running (after the sidewalk it had a parking lane that was pretty empty). However it was not close to as nice as mile 16. Right after the finish of 16 (on the 'back' portion of Joseph) my right Plantar Fascia tightened up pretty good...something that tends to happen normally around mile 14-15, so it was relatively unsurprising. What was surprising was the DEAD BLACK CROW that I ran past inches from my left foot along the sidewalks of Joseph Ave. It was far too early into my run to come across such an ominous sign as this. I was in a zone cruising up Joseph Ave and this instantly snapped me out of my peaceful and mindless cruising state. There wasn't much to do about it, but I recalled the scene in Entourage (Season 3, the Episode where Johnny Drama is on the pilot for "Five Towns" and a bird crashes through the window and kills itself in his breakfast preparations for everyone, who had been impatiently waiting for Johnny to wake up. Johnny takes it as a horrible sign and feels he is doomed to failure. However, later on his escape from LA, he finds out the Five Towns pilot was a massive HIT! and has millions of viewers...16 million or so). So that lightened the potentially mentally distressful situation.
Mile 17: (7:38) Throughout this mile I was focused on making sure the right foot felt good. I just didn't know how the tightness of my plantar fascia was going to play out with 6 miles left rather than 1 or 2. I let the stride droop a bit and compensated by letting a little more heel contact occur than normal. By the time I got to Eastman (the 17 mile mark) I was able to get back to a fairly normal stride and was back being pretty comfortable - even though my stride wasn't 'perfectly' normal.
Mile 18: (7:40) The only point at which I actually stopped moving. This was due to not seeing Mike at the corner of East and Alexander - our planned meeting point. The VERY minor error was due to my slightly faster than planned pace and his underestimation of how nasty the sidewalks are (as he is coming back from some Achilles issues - so naturally sloppy sidewalks can cause some potential issue there). However - I stopped on East...looked around...crossed to Alexander...looked around. I debated continuing since I really didn't want to stop this far in, for fear of being unable to comfortably resume. By now the full effect of my pretty heavy training last week had kicked in (thanks in part to more than expected running on snowy sidewalks. I thought the mid-20's weather would allow stuff to clear, but I guess 'warm' weather has no bearing on snow melting...oh well. Actually it made portions worse than normal...since the snow wasn't as solid - refer to mile 20). Luckily at this moment I saw Mike coming up East and I did a mini loop to keep moving. Mike had a Nature Valley bar and some water for me. Food-wise I was completely set: my energy level was excellent despite my legs starting to crash. I took a swig of water and trashed the rest. Mike was pretty surprised when my demeanor was rather pleasant and perky - he said he expected me to be in shambles or approaching that point, so I guess I was holding up well. This was nice to hear as I had quasi-thoughts of this when contemplating the toll of 22 miles, regardless of intensity.
Mile 19: (7:51) Officially my longest run ever by distance (I hit my longest timed run ever at about 18.6). Long road on Alexander to Mt. Hope. This was officially the longest portion of the run without an actual turn of any sort (~1.6mi). Sadly Alexander was too busy to chill in the road on and it was a matter of jumping from sidewalk to road a bunch, but luckily wasn't locked on the sidewalks. Looped around the Genesee Gateway Apartments, which was a rough introduction back into the snow.
Mile 20: (8:14) While Mile 1 was definitely the worst mile of the whole run, mile 21 felt the worst...as it inconveniently fell 20 miles after that first one (interesting how that all happens). Man did this suck. I wanted to stay true to the route and hold onto the Genesee side of the path, but it was UGLY. I nearly fell half a dozen times, kicking myself on multiple accounts. Most of it was tracked out my a Gator or Nordic skiers or various walkers, but that just provided a deceivingly unstable surface to attempt to trace over. I sauntered to portions of 'freshies', as we say in the ol' skiing days, but it was too erratic with being crunchy and soft. Thus I stuck it out on the poorly kept and painfully unstable track of those before me. This mile ended up being horribly slow and really crushed my calves. It also took a chunk out of my quads and really disturbed my stabilizers (ITB included).
Mile 21: (7:48) FUN! This mile time I think is quite an underestimation as my GPS lost Satellite as Tyle and I blazed through the tunnels. The path of my watch shows us connected from Meliora (our entrance to the tunnels) to somewhere between the swimming pool and the Res Quad. So it definitely made a valiant effort at accounting for it's loss of location, but definitely short-changed our speedy, gopher-like tunneling skills. Popped out on the Wilson quad and came up on the 21 mark on Wilson.
Mile 22: (7:40) Looped up and around DKE, I yelled that I wanted beer and Four LOKO. But they were probably still passed out from the night before. So it was to no avail, thankfully. One brother stepped out of the house as we made our circle around the house and just looked at Tyle, Mike, and myself with a confused glare, most likely jealousy and admiration. Ha. Wasn't able to get into Psi U (I had my ID Card in my pocket in hopes of a swipe-entry, as the house is now residential. The punks got busted for hazing. Ha...yes, I said 'Ha' again). So we jumped off the front porch, giving my calves a bit of a rugged twinge. We hit the Riverway trail and did the "Cross-Country!!" section, while debating the foolishness of trying to rationalize the cross-country section versus the normal section. Tyle came to the conclusion that it would take an absurd amount of ingenuity to come up with some reasonable idea as to prefer one to the other. My first (sarcastic) response was 'Well, it prepares our ankles for the unstable terrain of the cross-country nature'. But, then I felt a moment of brilliance: 'I'll take the cross-country part because I have to do the hill later', which was totally reasonable at this point (at least to me). We hit up the cross-country section, because it is obvious there was no alternative: if you don't follow read the previous two sentences as many times as you need. Then we cruised up to the track (our ankles stronger than ever) and circled up past Fauver and onto the track ensuring that exactly a single lap - no more than, no less than - was completed on the track. At this point excitement took over and I 'cranked' the 400m to the end of my glorified birthday gift. A 1:30-1:35 final lap showed nothing but ferocity in my final trudge through the nasty, crusty snow ridden track. It that was it. Simply the end of yet another run, another day's work.
Final Time: 2:50:00 (Miles 12-22: 1:24:41)
I recalled a quote from Dexter that I saw yesterday while on the trainer. While it may be a detached and slightly pessimistic view, it was peculiar and very interesting. In Season 1, when Rita's daughter's birthday comes up, Dexter thinks to himself: "I don't get birthdays; the party, the song. Celebrating another year just being alive feels... forced". That was pretty interesting to me, in that people try to make others' birthdays more exciting than they, in all honesty are. This morning I didn't feel a year older, I merely felt a day older. But there was one thing that was for sure - I was 22 miles older once that run was over. While abstract to most, this has a lot more significance than one would superficially expect. This run wasn't just a "prove myself" sort of thing. It was highly personal, but I did greatly enjoy sharing it will all who may enjoy or feel some connection - whether running based or out of 'holy crap that's impossible' as some people have (incorrectly) said.
The run overall was so natural, except the very initial conception and presentation of the idea - as the outside support made it seem far more reasonable and less abstract. My first thought was it had to be forced: when I thought of this idea my longest run ever was 15.5 miles and occurred on September 2, 2007; well over 3 years ago. But over the preparation it quickly became simply an opportunity, something to be excited about. During the run I felt purely detached from the commitment of completion or the failure of coming up short: I just took it all in and experienced pure enjoyment of the moment.
I'd like to make a few shout-outs to some people who were major players today:
First, to Tyler Socash (and BroBot): He designed a truly perfect Tour De Rochester that lasted exactly 22.00 miles and hit pretty much every key component necessary to make a run epic (BroBot probably had his say in the loop around DKE and the concept of breaking into Psi U). I did everything in my ability to hold true to the original plan and merely altered a 1.5 mile section due to multiple life-threatening and unlawful (epic) portions. Also Tyler (who held hand with BroBot) trekked the first and utmost important 20 meters with me this morning from 2 Menlo Place along Mt. Hope Avenue. BroBot somehow managed the guts to wake up at 7:45AM for my arrival at the track house and get his lazy, still drunken, and not quite worthless self up from his 4AM arrival at the house to run a few meters (although everyone know he passed out at the door and had no option but to get out of the way of the door).
Also, to Chanse Hungerford, who ran the first 5.67 miles with me and was critical in ensuring I keep my spirits and excitement for glory in reasonable bounds. He did a great job at making sure miles 3-5 got me settled in to a good pace to set a good trend for the remainder of the run. Chanse nearly took a bullet...I mean CAR...for me today on mile 33 (see above), but made it out safe and sound.
To the "Professor" Tyle Stelzig: Who made the extremely speedy wardrobe change from waking up at 7:50AM, as to not delay the 8:00:00AM Sharp departure from the track house (okay fine it was 8:00:27AM, officially). Within the past few days both his phone and watch have died (the watch - his backup alarm - dying overnight), but he still beat the odds and came out for the visitations through the graveyard and ensured a safe entry to the 19th Ward. Tyle, who put in a good 7.6 miles in for that intro portion made a spectacularly and very surprising appearance for the final two miles of the run, the light after my miserable 20th mile. He ran to Intercampus and sat in a "holding pattern" for a brief time before Mike and I passed by from the River. Tyle was "sitting in the library doing work, but couldn't get anything done due to [his] fear of missing the final two miles of the Run For Glory" (I apologize for any butchering of your library based recount...I was 'tired': too busy demanding a Double Mel Burger and my battle up the relentless Intercampus Drive).
Mike Insler, who met me at mile 17.5 (a point at which had once caused some difficulties in my previous longest run ever - 18 miles). He came with a bottle of water, from which a solid gulp was just perfect. Also, he brought a granola bar (just in case), but thanks to the Generation UCAN my energy held surprisingly steady. With his battle coming back from some Achilles issues, Mike put up with some ugly surfaces and kept me some great company through miles that I had never encountered. A big thanks for coming out and jumping in to a much longer run than he had been doing in recent recovery training.
One last thanks to Seth Hasty: A good friend from home who is a marathoner, but has instilled in me that it's really "not all that bad". This 22 miler seemed forced and so epic to me initially, with my lack of physical and mental confidence in the distance...but also my inexperience of long runs. Over Christmas vacation, Seth dragged me along to complete 16+ and 17 mile runs with an unexpected ease. His chill mindset and just-the-right-amount confidence approach really rubbed off on me, especially as I hit 18 on my own just two Sundays ago. Those few longs runs were the turning point that made this Run For Glory an undertaking into a purely exciting and fun experience. Thanks to Seth, his attitude, and his confidence in me this run took on its true meaning: just another jaunt on the roads, only a bit more run and a lot more fun.
Over the past month this has become an exciting event to look forward to rather than the epic adventure I envision it as. Initially, I was hoping I'd have this awesome feeling of being on a road to, and eventually having done something amazing by the end. But that's not at all how it ended up: it was simply pure.
All in all this wasn't so much a physical undertaking as it was a peaceful and enjoyable mini adventure that was secluded from the forced events of our everyday life. I feel quite pleased I was able to start this little tradition for myself, and allowed it to take full shape in just being so purely enjoyable and natural. Mentally I got a lot out of the run - not in the sense that a marathoner says "you learn a lot about yourself", because that was not a point I reached nor planned on reaching - but that I was simply able to appreciate it and let go of everything. To quote my senior speech from high school: "When I run. I am what I am and I'm free".
The past month has been nearly asdifficult as I could have imagined it to be and it's been pretty much a rough time all along for me. While this hasn't done anything to directly improve anything besides the length of my longest run, it was quite a nice time to get some peace and time to reflect. While the last month may have been a nightmare, and today in no way made it better; I was able to realize that you have to accept things for exactly as they are and simply make the best and do your best regardless of the circumstance, otherwise your efforts are wasted.
Challenges: A bump in the road is an obstacle to be fought or an opportunity to be enjoyed...it is all up to you.