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12 Miles In Long Beach Island

April 2, 2012

Let me tell you a little about Dock Road.

So, many years ago my best friends family bought a house just off of Long Beach Island (LBI) here in New Jersey and they have always been gracious enough to allow the group of us to come down whenever we’d like and stay as long as we want.  It’s a luxury I don’t take for granted, and summers normally consist of several visits down to Dock Road.  It’s arguably one of my favorite places on Earth – mostly due to the conversations and experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have down there.

Well, his parents ‘moved in’ this weekend (they live in GA and come up for summers), so we were invited down to assist Joe w/ helping them get settled in, empty the trailer, etc.  Since most of the runners (Nancy, Martin and I) were going to be in attendance – and needed to knock out a 12 mile training run this weekend anyway – we decide ‘what could be better than driving over to LBI and doing it right along the beach?’

Well… we found out the answer to that question:  A LOT.

We decided earlier in the week the run would be from Bay View Park to the Barnegat Lighthouse – with the path we took (not straight down, we added some turns down blocks, etc.) it was just over 12 miles away.  Saturday AM it is dreary, around 40 degrees and a misty, but consistent, rain is coming down.  If there was EVER a day you would look out the window and say “Eh… I’ll do the run tomorrow” THIS would have been that day.  Well, we didn’t… we ran.  So at 9:15am Joe and our mobile water station drop us off at Bay View Park, says ‘Good luck – see ya in 3 miles!’ and leaves.  Like it or not, we’re running.

So we start.  First 2 miles are fine – little wet, little cold… but for the most part A-OK.  Then my body decides to throw a little curve ball at me:

“Yo, Gach – you need to go to the bathroom.  BAD.”

OK… not real happy about it, but what can you do, right?  So I start going into food places that are open to see if I can use their bathroom.  Here is how it went:

#1 – “Uhhhh… sorry it’s for employees only”
#2 – “Uhhhh… sorry but the policy is that you can’t use it.”
#3 – “Uhhhh… well… uhhhhhh… ummmmm… I gue-” *manager interrupts*
        “No, I’m sorry you can not”

I’m about ready to explode by the time I get to location #4, where the 2 young ladies at the counter in CVS were nice enough to allow me to use the employee men’s room in the back.  So I get in there, close the door and turn on the light.

There’s no light.

THERE’S NO GAHDAMN LIGHT IN THE FRIGGIN’ MENS EMPLOYEE BATHROOM?!?!?!?

At this point there’s no turning back… Once you mentally decide you’re going you HAVE to go.  So, I crack open the bathroom to get some light and assess the location of the toilet as the door closes and sit in udder and complete darkness for 5 minutes.  The ‘crack door open, get light & assess situation’ process happens a few more times and then I’m back outside with my running mates and we’re at Mile #3 (57 minutes, including the potty break) and our 1st of 4 water stations (re: Joe driving my car with a cooler in the trunk meeting us every 3 miles).

We take a quick break, fuel up a little and we’re back off again.  About 5 minutes after leaving I say to Nancy and Martin “Wow, this wind is really fighting us, isn’t it?”  Yeah… in addition to the rain and the cold, we’re running INTO the wind.  Despite that, Miles 4-6 were my easiest…. no bathroom worries, no issues… Gu and Pedialyte are just fine… and I cruise into Water Station #2 feeling pretty good.

That was the end of feeling good.

We take off on the 3rd leg, and I immediately start to tighten up – in my jaw, my legs, my hips… you name it, it got tight.  By Mile 8, Nancy and Martin were well ahead of me, as the amount of my walking almost doubled and the amount of crazy began to introduce itself for the first time in my training.

(** NOTE – I debated even telling this story, but my friends thought it was pretty funny so I figure I’ll share it.  I guess if you’re gonna judge me, you’d have done it well before this… so what the heck, right??? 🙂 **)

Sometimes, I have been told, when you run long distances you ‘may’ begin to hallucinate a little – talk to yourself, see things that aren’t there, etc.  After all, distance running is a science and keeping properly  hydrated/ nourished while in the middle of running 3 hours straight is not easy.

I can’t believe it, but this is the ACTUAL Mickey
Mouse mailbox I high-fived – no joke!

Well – down the shore the mailboxes are all free standing right on the road so the mailman can just drive up and put the mail in.  Many residents have fun with their mail stands by making them elaborate with pictures, statues, paintings and the like.  As I’m in between Miles 8 and 9, the mailboxes got ‘friendly’ with me I guess… because I pet 1 “cat” (made of wood) that was on top of a mailbox as I said “Heeyyy, guy”then a minute or so later high-fived a Mickey Mouse and said “Thanks, bro”as I trotted past.

It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later that I kinda came around said “DID I JUST PET A FAKE CAT AND HIGH FIVE A WOODEN MICKEY?!?!?!”

At this point Water Station #3 is near, which Nancy and Martin had just left, and I quit.  I was done.  I couldn’t even lift my feet anymore, I’m talking to wooden creatures… this is ridiculous.  So Joe does what any normal person would do; rolls up his pants and says “hey – let’s run a mile.”

I’m walking to the beach (I have no idea what I was gonna do when I got there, but that’s the way I was headed), stopped and had the following exchange:

“WHA?!?!”
“Yeah Todd – let’s run a mile, you and me”
“Uhhh – you’re in sandals”
“I know.  It’s a mile, I can keep up”
“Well, yeah… I can barely move”
“Exactly – so let’s go.  C’mon.”

So I had some Gatorade, some Pedialyte – and un-quit.  We started walking, then broke into a (really) light jog and started talking about everything going through my head at that point.  Mile 10 comes up and the car, Nancy and Martin are all there waiting for me; Joe wraps up (“Man, this wind is no joke…”) and Nancy and Martin join me on my slow pace for the last 2 miles – which I really needed because I don’t know if I could have finished if they didn’t wait for me. I’d like to think I could have finished up alone, but after what happened at Mile 9 I’d be lying if I could say with 100% certainty I would have.

Around Mile 11 I got this shooting pain in my left leg (now dubbed ‘the problem leg’ because that’s the leg it seems like everything happens to) which, at the the time, I called a hip pointer (because it seemed to describe exactly what it felt like), but after research it must have been something altogether different (exactly what it was is still TBD). So, I did what most people would do after running 11 miles and being in pain – had an out-loud conversation with my legs and Jesus, began preaching to Nancy and Martin like a Southern Baptist Minister (this wasn’t a product of anything other than entertainment… I promise) and singing Prince songs.  In other words – pretty much anything to ignore the pain.

We finally reached the lighthouse, and I swear to God I couldn’t have cared less at that moment in time – my only mission was to not move my legs…. for even just a minute – I just didn’t wanna move.

SO WE DECIDED TO CLIMB THE STAIRS TO THE TOP OF THE LIGHTHOUSE.

I won’t even try to make this dramatic – we turned around.  We made it about 1/3 of the way up before we all were like “Yeah… no” and then went back down.  12 miles was enough for 1 day.  Once we got back to the house, we were all sorts of lazy… uhh, I mean, recuperating… for the afternoon and just enjoyed the rest of our time at the house.

When we got up Sunday morning, the sun was out, the wind was gone and it was the PERFECT day for a beach run.  No, we didn’t run… but I wonder:

If I had the choice – what would I choose between knowing I could complete the 12 mile run in the conditions I did on Saturday, or do the run in the ideal conditions on Sunday?  I don’t know to be perfectly honest.  But what I DO know is that, no matter what, I did that run on Saturday – and no one can take that away from me.  It’s 3 weeks till the half, and I can almost guarantee that those 13.1 won’t be as hard as the 12 I ran this past weekend.

Boots.  To.  Asses.

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