Thursday, September 20, 2007

26 22 miles!

The AIDS Marathon training program takes us all the way to 26 miles in preparation for the actual marathon’s 26.2 miles. Most programs take you only to 20 miles. I’ve done the only-20 route and the full-26 route, and by far I had my worst run (and my most painful injuries) doing the 26-mile training program.

So for last Saturday’s 26-mile run, I was a giant man-baby and I ran only 22 miles with my training group. Fortunately, Ryan and Michael were giant man-babies with me. And the AIDS Marathon organizers realized that their 26-mile program wasn’t for everyone and they had runners do a little out-and-back loop at the beginning so we 22-mile giant man-babies could join our groups late and we could all finish together.

The morning started out cold. As in balls-shivering-up-in-your-chest cold. As in holy-shit-what-happened-to-summer cold. As in Mitt-Romney’s-cold-black-heart cold. But apparently I was the only one to feel it:

Once the sun came up, the temperature rose just enough to make perfect fall running weather. Plus the sunrise on the lake was pretty gorgeous:

Here’s a shot Matthew took as the group approached the four-mile mark. The mark where they picked up all us giant man-babies who didn’t want to run a full 26 miles. It’s easy to spot me because I was running in my fancy new day-glow orange shorts. Which didn’t have nearly enough pockets for five hours’ worth of running gel, but they were orange!

Matthew took a hundred photos Saturday morning. It’s taken me a whole week to dig through them and find the ones I thought would make interesting blog material. But now that I’m reviewing them, I see I pulled little more than posed group shots at water breaks. All of which just reinforce the fact that I should break down and wear my damn yellow shirt some Saturday so I don’t look like such a non-conformist. And so I don’t stick out like a damn dreamsicle at a honeybee convention:

As a self-absorbed blogger, I also pulled all the good (OK, goodish) pictures of me. Here is a fascinating study of me drinking water:

Here’s a wobbly pic Matthew took over his shoulder as we were running. He takes millions of these. Most are too blurry and uncomposed to be very interesting. But some turn out pretty cool. I like this one because it gives my quads some totally rockin’ definition. It must have been taken early-ish in the run because I’m still holding the running gel that wouldn’t fit in my overstuffed pockets:

I look like I’m running in terror from a torch-wielding band of Republican presidential candidates here, but I felt great the entire run. Honest!

I love this little curve around Shedd Aquarium. It gives us wide sidewalks, manicured lawns, no pedestrians carrying giant scarecrows, refreshing lake breezes and stunning views of the Chicago skyline:

Here we are crossing the 26 22-mile finish line, where the AIDS Marathon organizers greeted us with balloons, sweaty hugs and medals. And where some of us finally discovered we had some very angry knees and ankles:

This is probably our last big-group photo. We have two more short runs (for which historically only three or four people will show up) and then the marathon itself. Getting a group photo before the marathon will be like herding kittens on a frying pan, so you might want to save this picture to your desktop and make it your wallpaper or something so you can keep referring to it until we start having new group photos taken next spring. Even though it makes me look like I forgot to put in my teeth:

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