Monday, April 6, 2009

A Weekend of Firsts

The end of Week 12. This weekend was to be my first 100-miler on the bike. The plan: run long on Friday (my day off), then a quick trip to Pittsburgh (actually Greensburg) Friday night to see Ray Lamontagne. Saturday, get up and grab an awesome English breakfast at Piper's Pub on Carson Street and check out Ikea Pittsburgh on the way home. Sunday, up early for a 100-mile bike ride - north to Lakewood, west to Lorain, and back. I had done all of it before.

But, everything changed on Friday morning when I woke up to a downpour. I panicked. There goes my perfectly-orchestrated weekend. One thing was for sure - I did not want blisters from running 2:30+ in the rain. I scrambled. I would have to run long in Pittsburgh/Greensburg. But where? I Googled. I was in luck. The "Five Star Trail" was minutes from my hotel. It was almost like a miracle. A flat (in the Pittsburgh area?), part-paved, part-gravel rail trail that goes for about 7-8 miles. Am I just lucky? Remember who I am.

It was a nice trail - a great surface, a relatively safe feel with lots of people around, and a clean space because of volunteers who pick up the trail garbage on Saturday morning. Impressive. And it was sunny and around 36 degrees - perfect weather. I left the hotel around 8:15 and told my husband Jim to come find me if I wasn't back by 11. Who needs a map? It's a simple out and back. I never get lost.

I never GOT lost.

After I stopping a few times for a bathroom break and to fix my water bottle carrier, I was running late, so I decided to jump the trail early and take a shortcut back to the hotel to make it before 11. I decided to jump off at that railroad bridge I ran under on the way out. No prob. So what did I do wrong? All of a sudden, I'm in the middle of nowhere, with no memory of my surroundings. I KNOW I went under that railroad bridge. I circled back. I started to panic. Someone stopped to help me. Thank Gauss! I said "I'm lost!" She yelled: "well, THIS is Highland Avenue!" and drove away. !?!?!? Ummm, ok.

I decided to run a different direction,... but now I was really lost. I went toward what looked like a main drag, and lo and behold, a savior! The Mailman! I ask him for directions. He gives them to me. He says "go up this street, take a right on Pittsburgh Ave., and that will turn into Route 30/130 and lead right to your hotel."

Enter disaster magnet.

He said "right." But I heard: "left." Mainly because I thought "I have to go left" to get back. My sense of direction was apparently no longer intact. I went left. After a few minutes, I realized my mistake and turned around and ran back to the intersection. It was uphill. I was getting later by the second. I checked my watch. It was 11. Desperate for some landmark, I just kept running. Then I started praying. Praying that Jim was not also panicking and searching for me in someplace I wasn't. Must run faster! When I finally started recognizing landmarks and was on my way back to the hotel, I saw Jim's car. He picked me up. It was the FIRST time I ever got lost running in an unknown city.

So what did Jim say? "Why didn't you just ask someone if you could borrow their cell phone and call me?"

Sheesh. Men and their Logic.

The rest of the weekend was not so dramatic. I got up late on Sunday, lollygagged until 1 pm and then went out on my bike. At least I checked the weather and changed the plan to go east instead of west because the wind was from the east. Although this route has a lot of stops and starts for crossroads, in the end it was a good idea because when it clouded over and got cold around 5 pm, I was riding with the wind. It was slower than expected, but in less than 6 hours, I rode my FIRST 100-miler of my 2009 Ironman training. (And the first since 2003.)

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