It looked kinda nasty.
Saturday was what my veteran marathon friends call "the breakthrough day." It would be the day that I would run farther than I've ever run in my life. In this case, that was 16 miles. I hadn't run more than 13 in three years. A big day.
Of course, a fresh blanket of snow awaited me. Friday, a day I ran 8, I ran through snow, but it was nice. As I debated about what to wear, Saturday's snow did not look nice. It looked awful, in fact.
The sleety, sticky stuff stuck to my windshield like Superglue and seemed to giggle at my defroster as I tried to peek through the small hole the warm air created. I had a 15 minute drive to the start of my run. I played W.A.S.P., thinking it would help. It didn't.
The treadmill was not an option. If I wanted to run in place, I would come back in my second life as a hamster. I've run more than 3 miles on a treadmill once in my running career. The wind was 40 mph, the snow was sideways, and the temperature was -18. Even then, I considered it - in fact I was heading out the door - when one of my friends saw me and suggested I wear an avalanche beacon so they could find my body on the trail.
We met inside, ready for action. We debated how many layers to wear. It honestly didn't seem too bad. It's all relative.
Sometimes I pick the route, and other times, I'm just a lab being pulled along for the ride. This was one of those days. Saturday's route included a long, long hill - "Heartbreaker's Hill" in the Boston Marathon looks like a gopher's mound in comparison - and by mile 8, facing a stiff, cold wind that cuts into my face, I'm a little cranky.
"This sucks!" I yell, and two of my running mates turn around. It's really not like me to complain too much. They see I'm not injured, grin and turn around.
Around mile 13, my jacket is coated in ice, and my legs start to feel wooden. I somehow catch a second wind - it must be the Cliff Bar chew Blocs, which taste like gummy bears - and pick it up a notch. I've got to get used to running hard tired.
At 15.1, I can see my car, only we've already passed it. We're tacking on a small road so I can get my 16. It sounds anal, but you won't increase your long miles by more than two in one week, so it's actually fairly important to get that last mile in, as I think you earn more in that mile than any other.
My legs are tired, wooden and even a little painful as we approach the driveway. 16.2. I feel good. I'm in good spirits. But I don't want to go another mile. I'm really cold, I'm slathered in ice and my body's barking at me a bit.
I'm proud, really proud, actually, and this is the unspoken joy of a marathon. It's not just the event itself. There are a lot of milestones along the way as you train for it.
Still. Two thoughts. The first is obvious. Please, God, let it be a nice day on that day. And second? Hmm. 16 miles. I'm really supposed to run 10 more?