There is nothing like the Valley Forge Loop to smash a hole in the enthusiasm balloon. That's what I was thinking through mile 1 of the third time around the loop. What was I thinking signing up for a Spring marathon let alone one in Gettysburg? My 'plan' for the race suddenly seemed like a pipe dream.
With 1.5 miles to go I recovered however. It's the Valley Forge Loop (I told myself) and YOU are not superwoman so it's going to hurt on the third time around. And this is training afterall; hopfeully I was stretching my limits.
So here is how it went.
Lap #1: I arrived at the Visitor's Center parking lot at 7 and took off for round 1. It was drizzling off and on and very quiet. I passed only a handful of people going the other way (including Pete who had been out since 6:30 and was hoping to meet some running company back at the Visitor's Center at 7:30). I was passed by the gentleman who was in the only other car in the parking lot. He 'congratulated' me for being out on such a day. I returned the greeting although I wasn't sure "congratulations" was exactly the right word; it's the thought that counts. I ran 3 and 1's the entire way up to the last hill going down. There I skipped the walk breaks and cut off the corner (across the grass). Kristen was going to be waiting for me in the parking lot and it was already 8. I called her quickly to let her know I was almost there. Given my rep for starting on time I didn't want her to think I had left without her.
Lap #2: I asked Kristen if we could do the second lap in reverse rotation. I was sure that if I did all three in the same direction it would just make me crazy. This way I would do the last lap in the direction I was used to. She agreed and off we went. Ok that hill going back up is really not fun; but we did it. We ran 3 and 1's the entire way around and I could feel my legs getting angry but my head was still in the game. Coming around the Arch my shoe lace had worked itself loose and I had to stop to retie. My foot was starting to move around in my shoe. I retied it but did so too tight. By the time we got back to the parking lot my toes were starting to go numb but I didn't want to stop again we were amost there. We skipped the walk breaks down the hill on the opposite side and met up with Pete in the parking lot.
Lap #3: I needed more water but the bathrooms were closed. I knew that from earlier weeks. I should have brought extra with me. Thanks to Pete I was able to refill with a bottle he had in his car. Pete wished us well and headed home. I retied my shoe and off we (Kristen and I) went. One more lap. My legs burned on the first hill. I had to walk before the walk break. That pissed me off and as I wrote at the beginning of this post I went into a mental tailspin. At the Arch again I told Kristen that I would totally understand if she wanted to move on without me. She didn't. We weren't side by side the whole way but she stayed close. We didn't talk as much this lap but she silently kept me going. Don't ever let anyone discount the power of the group or even just having one other person with you. I 'cheated' on the walk break one more time before the end and there were times when it was a stretch to call what I was doing uphills 'running' but as we came around to the chapel again I felt like I was on remote control. My legs hurt but I wasn't quite so focused on that anymore. I was moving and that's all that mattered. And as I said before, this is where I remembered where I was and who I wasn't.
So Gettysburg is still on. I may re-evaluate my thought to skip the walk breaks between miles 6 and 13. Although if water stops are every 2 miles as promised there is likely 2 or 3 in that span soooooo. Fortunately I have time to give this more thought.
I'm giving myself tomorrow off and then going to try for at least an hour Tues, Wed, and Thurs. I'll be travelling Fri-Sun and although I'll bring my running gear, I'm not sure I'll whether I'll get out or not. 13 miles the week after that and then the first of my two 20 milers.