Its a funny thing to look at running 17 miles as a privilege. But at this point that's exactly how it feels.
After a Saturday morning work appointment, I hurried home to lace up and follow Maura out the door and around the horn. She had left about an hour earlier for a 20-miler, out to Hopper's Hands and back. I wanted to catch her and run with her back home, knowing that her long runs have been a struggle of late. Misery loves company.
Up over Vermont, through Mission Creek and out to the ballpark. Crossing the railroad tracks, I started to run. I haven't been able to spend much time at pace in the past few months, and with only a month before New York, I know I need to get back into my race day rhythm. 6:45 has been my race pace for a while now, and I struggled to stay at pace for any real amount of time. It still feels comfortable, but I am out of practice at maintaining it.
I'd look down at my watch to find myself dipping below 6:30 or above 7:00. Not the end of the world, but I should be able to cruise at that pace and hold it steady.
Clicking miles off along the Embarcadero, I turned up into the wind and pushed forward, winding through tourists and joggers alike. It feels great to blow past other runners, even though no one else is racing.
Out along the Marina Green I saw Maura up ahead, orange shirt and knee-high pink socks. She remembered her hat today, sun shining bright. I had wanted to hit 16 miles today, so seeing her at 7.25 I told her I'd go a bit further than come back. She yelled something about going around Fisherman's Wharf, so I turned back early to make sure I didn't miss her.
Doing some mental gymnastics around when and where I'd catch her, I doubled back around Ghirardelli Square and hit the Embarcadero again. No Maura, so I pushed forward, fast. I had no problem overshooting, knowing I could wait for her, but if I didn't catch her then turned back, I wouldn't see her until home.
I turned around just before the Ferry Building and found her a couple hundred yards further on, stretching along the side the road. Now 15 miles into her run, I could tell she wasn't feeling great.
We chatted a bit back to the ballpark, stopped for water and another stretch and turned for home. The last couple miles were tough for both of us, and I started to realize that I am perhaps more behind on my training than I thought. Towards the end my Achilles did start to feel a bit tight, so I didn't mind taking it easy on those last miles.
But all those crowds, all the interruption, all the starting and stopping made me appreciate my recent trail runs all the more. And I'll be back at it again tomorrow, a morning run with Tyler at Huddart.