At Mile 15.8, midway up yet another hill, I stopped, bent down and put my hands on my knees. I groaned softly to myself and stretched my hamstrings. My feet hurt. I was bone-tired. And I was out of Gatorade.
A car backed out of the multi-million dollar house I stood in front of. A sleek, black late-model Mercedes wagon slowly drove by. Then it backed up and a 40-something man rolled down the passenger window and asked, "Are you all right?"
I straightened up quickly and smiled. "Yes, just fine!" I said. "Just finishing a long run." And I waved goodbye to him.
Note to self: Don't look and sound like you're dying until you're at home.
I was still almost a half-mile from the house we're renting here at Tahoe (there's plenty of room - we have two bedrooms and another bathroom that are unused - you're welcome to come up!). I shook off my lethargy and slowly jogged another .4 mile, then called it quits.
My 16.2 miler that I did yesterday afternoon, in the high altitude, took me 2:38 and change. Though if you count all the stops I took to stretch my muscles and catch my breath, it was closer to 3 hours.
I"m starting to get worried about doing well at the Marine Corps Marathon. I meant to do at least 4-5 miles at marathon pace (8:35-8:37/mile). That didn't happen. Of course, I ran for the first time in weeks at 7,000+ ft. high altitude. And I ran with a head cold.
The first 4.7 miles, I did at at a 9:00/mile pace with E. and Nelson, our Labrador mix. Then I dropped them off at the house, suited up with waistpack holding Gatorade, one Gu, a cell phone, a $20 bill and a few paper towels (to blow my nose), and headed out again. I followed the trail that curves around Lake Tahoe. Sometimes the trail ended, and I found myself running next to busy Hwy 89. Pick-up trucks barreled by. Some honked.
The trail, which dipped and curved, was fairly quiet. School has started in Northern California, so the hordes of San Francisco Bay-area folks that travel 3+ hours to the high Sierras are mostly gone. Only a few bikers in Spandex whizzed by me. By mile 10, I wanted to quit. I'd already stopped several times to drink water and take the Gu.
I felt I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I trudged along at a 9:57-10:00/mile pace. That was as fast as I could go. By mile 11, I was stopping every 10 to 15 minutes to catch my breath. I looked a the cerulean blue lake to my left and wished I could jump in, shoes, waistpack and all.
I finished my run at 5:30 pm. The shadows were lengthening around me and the lowering sun burned through the evergreen trees. When I finally trudged inside, E. said, "I was about to come looking for you!"
Good thing he didn't. Because if I'd seen him round a curve and stop while I was still in the middle of my run, I would have unhesitatingly jumped in and called it quits.