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Monday, December 26, 2011

It Takes a Long Time

7:16 am - Day after Christmas - Briones

It sure takes a long time to train for a marathon. Yes it takes months to prepare, but I mean it takes a lot of time out of a week too. My training for the Mt. Diablo Ultra - a 50k - has brought my long weekend runs up to well over 20 miles and finding time to run those distances means more than flirting with creativity.

Thursday of last week, my wife and I sat at the kitchen table discussing the best time for my weekend's long run. I didn't want another out and back route and was hoping for a route that would reward me with an end point over the hills and far away from my start. That meant I needed some form of a ride home.

Friday night was an option, if my friend Jeremy was willing to chauffeur me home. With their home several hours away, he and his family were staying the night at our house so I could take them to the airport early Saturday morning. I suppose we could have squeezed it in Friday night, but Saturday morning was certainly out. Saturday being Christmas eve, there were all day yuletide preparations, so I didn't bother to mention it as an option. Christmas day? I've managed similar feats of courage in the past but have always been more heavily invested in emotional capital and had the doghouse better stocked.

That pretty much toasted the weekend. I had given my employees Monday off, so when I recommended that I finish at a Starbucks where my girls and I could have breakfast after the run, a compromise for Monday morning was signed.

My workout took me from my home in Martinez, completely across Briones Regional Park (bagging Briones Peak at 1486', plus another 1000' in accumulated elevation gain), through the Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill corner, and on to the Railroad Starbucks in Danville - 22.5 miles.

Last week I took off - as a rest week - after the weekend prior riding 105 miles on Saturday and then Sunday morning running 21 miles with over 1500' of elevation gain. That cost me not only all day Saturday, but also Sunday and Monday in an irritable half-comatose recovery state. A week off was well-advised and inevitable since my wife was out of town for 5 of those days, and I had charge of our progeny. I managed to rest most of the week with only one slip-up on Friday, running 5 miles behind the jogging stroller.

So now it's half way through this week and I'm searching for that next block of free time in the vicinity of the weekend. Yet, somehow that block of free time isn't all that's required. Preparations begin a couple of days in advance by rearranging my sleep time to be sure I'm getting at least 6 or 7 hours of rest per night. The evening before the long run is serious prep time, with water bottles laying about the kitchen, tennis shoes by the door, and various layers of clothing strewn conveniently about for most efficient application in the dark of the next early morning. I'm basically lost to my family for small segments of time as I mentally check off the required items and lay them out where a 2-year-old won't purloin them, but where I can't miss them.

Then I run.

Home again, the process works in reverse. The ice bath, consumption of large quantities of breakfast, and shower take at least another hour. A load of laundry (because my wife flatly refuses to touch my soggy clothes) is also recognized as part of the weekend run.

All said, I suspect that the time spent running is less than half the time invested in the run. Add the reduced efficiency in limping about for the next 24 hours, and the inevitability of waking up halfway through a bedtime story with a 2 year old beating me with another book and an 8-year-old jamming her elbow in my ribs, and I would say my family is likely as heavily invested in my running (and cycling) as I am.

I wouldn't have you think that all is mission oriented though. Our happy little tribe is bustling with activity, so the integration of more is always taken "in stride." And, there is plenty of carefree time for all of the family. As a matter of fact, some of that free time has contributed to the recent expansion of the tribe. Well, actually only one of us is expanding currently, but soon enough we will be squeezing in time for another little member. I thought we had dodged the double jogging stroller - maybe not.

Happy New Year.