What’s your threshold?

I’ve been meaning to write a post all week, however, work must take priority over this silly little blog and I’ve lacked the time and the energy to write something worth reading. Though I did think about it all week, about what I was going to write about. First, I thought I’d write about the 74 degree semi-long-run I had at a reservoir on my way out of Delaware. It was a run that was so unseasonably hot and more or less a miserable hour and half of my life. Then I was going to write about my longest run ever to date (17 miles, 50 degrees 40 mile per hour winds that nearly blew me and my running group into the Inner Harbor last Saturday.)

However, I’m going to write about my run today. It was a long run that ended up being about 16.5 miles, this 16.5 miles happened at 7:30 am this morning after a 4pm 12 mile run yesterday afternoon/evening. Tired legs gearing up to run a long long way.  This run started out with my group, The Pacemakers, and was a bowtie loopty loop that allowed me to not carry water because I ended up at my car every 4-6 miles and I was able to hydrate, genius because I’ve yet to buy a hydration pack and ended my 17 miles last week very salty and very sick.

The first ten miles were great, we were all chatty, talking about the beautiful morning we finally had, the sun was shining, I was able to wear shorts, (it was 34 when we started but warmed up to about 41…perfect!) The first two lets of our journey felt great. When the third leg began I, among other runners, was feeling pretty good. (I was surprised, I thought my legs would be dragging more, I thought my feet would be hurting–)

 

Fast-forward two miles. My legs began to drag, my feet throbbed, I went silent.

http://vimeo.com/19529550

 

I could hear Bob’s footsteps behind me. This sound kept my feet moving, kept me from looking behind, kept me from walking, all the other kids with the pumped up kicks better run better run… someone told last night to sing Foster The People to keep me going. ALL THE OTHER KIDS WITH THE PUMPED UP KICKS BETTER RUN BETTER RUN… I was shouting in my head, I had to keep going, I couldn’t stop

 

—the silent miles had begun.

 

The Silent Miles: I think all runners hit a point. Not the wall but A Point in a training run where all falls silent. We get so absorbed in our head, our thoughts, our own personal demons and motivations that we go silent. My personal threshold has gotten longer, I used to only be able to go 10 or so miles before I fell silent. I stop talking, I stare straight ahead and concentrate, hard. At this point in my training I’m not really sure what my threshold is, I hit it a bit earlier this week because of the combination of last night’s 12 miles and the run this morning. Fatigued began I even began.

But today’s silence was okay. I’m okay with silence; I still had Bob’s feet and breathing behind me, the road in front of me, and the knowledge that I had a big cup of coffee at the end of the run. I finished 15 miles and ran another loop, on my own, to get in another mile and a half. This is where my personal motivation began to lack, this is where I fell apart and walked a bit. But this is the point that I remembered to listen to my body and remind myself that in the past 15 hours I had put in nearly 28 miles.


My body is broken down, (but not broken) and will rest and recover tonight and tomorrow. The Silent Miles are what make us stronger, they’re what make us realize what we are truly capable of.

Dare I say…

Because I live life on the road so much I have a hard time calling one particular place home. As a kid, my family bounced around from the east coast, to the mid west, to overseas, back to the middle of the country, then back east and then once more time to the Midwest.

On my own, I went to South America, then back east for a year of university and then ended up back in the Midwest… man, just talking about moving makes me tired. And now somehow I ended up with a job traveling the mid-Atlantic. So, when I’m running in a random city I rarely feel like I know where I’m going. I feel like I’m just constantly getting myself lost in hopes of a few things: getting a good run in, seeing the city, and maybe discovering something cool.

Rarely do I feel like I own a city. I don’t get a feeling of personal attachment to one particular place. However, I may have had that feeling last week on a run around the Inner Harbor. It was my second long run of the day and I needed to accomplish and hour and half of foot time, at 5pm I took off out the door of my apartment building and just started running, first to the harbor, then to the left through little Italy—being Friday evening, the weekend of Valentines day, I had to dodge couples and gaggles of single women lining up for Happy Hour, I had to weave my way between cars around Whole Foods until I finally made it to Boston street where things open up a little bit.

Boston runs right along the harbor where boats float in the icy February water, tied to the pier, begging to be let free to sail away. The water looked crisp, the air was fresh but not too cold. The temperature was warm for February, above 35 so I had shorts and a jacket, my favorite running attire. I ran and ran, Vampire Weekend was blasting my ears and keeping my cadence high and light. I ran, I ran and ran. The sun blasted orange over the water and reflected back turning the sky into an explosion that I wish I had been able to capture, (yet alas, my fancy camera phone was left behind—along with all other form of communication, what a glorious feeling!)

At my turn around point I stop to stretch a bit, to admire the other Friday evening runners, to take notice of what a dog friendly city Baltimore is. After a few moments I hop back into my pace, quickening it bit, getting into my grove, setting a bit of a faster speed for my journey back along the Promenade.

At this point, I find myself on a wooden surface jutting out straight toward the water, a perfect view of the setting sun, Vampire Weekend loud and optimistic in my headphones—I have the biggest, cheessiest grin on my face. I can only imagine what other runners think of my smile, but I don’t care. I feel good. I feel comfortable. I feel like Baltimore is a city I love to run in. The wooden planks under my feet are my favorite surface to run on, they make a happy noise under foot and spring me forward to continue on to complete my route that is wrapping around past Power Plant’s Barnes & Noble, by the Aquarium and to my goal—Russel Schipper. I can see the red neon lights; my pace gets more excited as it creeps closer.

Now it’s dark, lights reflect and double on the glass smooth water. No boats are sailing out to sea tonight. The mile back to my apartment from the end of the harbor was tough. An hour and half run after an hour morning work out was hard—but inspired. The city inspired me and kept my feet moving. It put a smile on my face that was the genuine smile of…dare I say? A runner’s high.

 

 

 

*Photos by Andrew Durand

A quick tour of a small part of Baltimore: (parte uno)

 

In the last 6 months I have relocated my life to Baltimore, MD. When I’m not on the road traveling for work I call a small apartment between Mr. Vernon and the Inner Harbor my home. It’s truly the ideal location for a runner living in the city. I have the ability to walk out my front door for a run, or take a quick drive and be in the woods. Imagine when you step out your front door or stoop (I really wish I had a stoop) and to the left is a never ending hill, the crest can’t be seen; and to the right is a slow descend that in half of a mile it hits a path that wraps around a beautiful harbor filled with sail boats, house boats and has a sky line of old factories that beg to be researched and read about.

 

To the right—toward the harbor, there is a lot to look at and distract the runner’s mind. The path curves sharply to the left or to the right. To the right the runner can continue past the science museum, stop and get a smoothie or a coffee at one of the many vendors set up for the hundreds of tourists that come through (ackkkk,) or keep going until it gets a bit more secluded.

She can run with the water to her left through condos where the wealthy enjoy a cup of coffee on their deck that over looks the lit up Domino Sugar sign, where they can keep an eye on their boat, some may be walking their Yorkipoo or a Snorkie in the early hours. This is my 4 mile turn around, sometimes, more recently, I keep going.

A night time view of the harbor

If I continue on this direction I find myself in windy streets of mangled brink sidewalks, random trees that grow in the middle of the sidewalk with roots protruding and trying to trip me. I find row homes with unique gates and fences, maybe roses growing or perhaps some other vine that takes over the iron leaves of the grate. There is a park that’s path circles me around and around to the top of a hill where I can see the harbor again, I can see more narrow streets and take a rest on a park bench if I need to. There are signs for Fort Mchenry with arrows that point me to the left or to the right, (I’ve tried multiple times to find Fort Mchenry, but the signs lead me to get lost-a common occurrence- and I end up distracted by something else, some other discovery along my way.)

Eventually I find myself in Federal Hill—though too early for anyone but students and city employees to be up, this neighborhood is sleepy this time of day. If I were to come here on a Friday night, (trust me, you will not find me in Fed Hill on a Friday night) I would see lit up bars advertising this weeks Miller Light draft special!!!! Buy one get one shot of tequila!!!!!!!! Pizza by the slice and Frat boys with their collars popped and jeans cuffed fists ready to pump. But at 8 am the city is quiet and mine.

 

This is one of my many running routes I’ve created for myself in Baltimore City. One of many I’ll outline for you on here to get to know my city and many other cities that I visit in my travels.