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A FUN AND MEANINGFUL RUN

Well, good Sunday morning to you!  It’s been a long time.  I would apologize for being absent from this blogspace for so long if that felt appropriate.  However, it just doesn’t feel like I need to do that right now.  I’ve been busy with life and honestly haven’t felt super inspired to put word to screen and I feel ok about that.  I’ve been very busy at work, getting our oldest ready to leave for college in 5 weeks and kind of just doing the rest of my life.

Don’t you worry your pretty little head, though, I’m still running!  In fact, yesterday was a great running day for me.  It’s a good thing because I’ve kind of been in a funk with my training.  Of course, you know me, I’m still doing just about everything my training plan calls for but it’s felt like I’m clocking into a job.  My workouts have felt required and uninspired.  Part of that is because the weather has been hellacious.  If you live pretty much anywhere on this planet you know what I mean.  Hot and humid at 5:00 a.m. makes for thick and laborious training runs.  When things get tough physically, it’s hard to keep yourself positive mentally.  Luckily, for those of us that choose this crazy path in life (ha! pun intended) there are runs like yesterday.

Yesterday, my friend Cheryl, hosted the Alex Ahrens Memorial 5K.  I needed to participate in the race.  And by needed I mean wanted to so badly that there just wasn’t any other option.  I also needed to run 17 miles this weekend based on this cobbled up long run plan that KG and I created after the Ann Arbor Marathon.  KG planned to be out-of-town to train for her 200 Mile Relay so I was left to tackle this one alone.

I decided that the best way to get my 17 miler in would be to run 14 miles to the start of the 5k and then run the 5k.  14 + 3 = 17 right?!?  Right!

I mapped a route out that would cover 14 miles prior to the start of the 5k.  The start was at 9:00 a.m. so I decided I should start my 14 at 6:00 a.m.  Fortunately, my very supportive husband Tom, was up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday and happily drove me to my first start line at Pleasant Lake and Zeeb Rds.

A little background info:  Alex Ahrens lost his 3 year battle with a brain tumor 5 months ago.  His mother, Cheryl, is my friend.  Cheryl has put a tremendous amount of effort into several events this summer that are raising funds for the Alex Ahrens Memorial Pre-School Playground.  The 5K yesterday was one of those events.  I have not been in town for the other events so this was a command performance for me.

As I began my 14 mile run to the 5K I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was. While Cheryl has endured heart-break and tragedy over the past 3.5 years I have not.  I will never know what it feels like to lose a child so young.  I will never know what it takes to go on with your life.  I will never know why life is so unfair to some people.  I am a very lucky Mom.  I have kids that are 17 and 18.  They are healthy and happy and still very much a part of my life.

I ran along beautiful country roads.  I experienced the sights, sounds, and SMELLS of farm life in Washtenaw County.  It really was a gorgeous route.

However, it’s not one I will likely run again anytime soon.  I hadn’t expected the no-shoulder roads that went on for miles and miles.  These roads are traveled by lots of very big, very fast, very oblivious-to-the-possible-runner-on-the-road, trucks.  Not only is there no shoulder but the roads are surrounded by fairly deep ditches.  In 14 miles I never saw another runner.  Yes, the Einstein in me came out and I realized there was probably good reason for that.  It’s just not very safe.  I decided the best strategy as a truck came flying by (which was often – even at 6 and 7 a.m.) was to get as far away from the road as possible without falling into the ditch, come to a complete stop, wait for the truck to pass and then carry on.  A new meaning for the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

It sounds worse than it was.  The weather was great – low humidity and cool temps.  The scenery was breath-taking.  And best of all, my two kids were safe and sound and happy and healthy sleeping in their beds as I made my way to the Alex Ahrens Memorial 5K.

Absolute Title 5k participants

I arrived at the start of the race just a few minutes after I expected to (due to the start/stop technique I decided to employ so as not to tangle with the trucks) and was greeted by Cheryl cheering and taking a photo of me.  I was feeling pretty darn good.  My friend Chris who was also running the race had a bag of dry clothes for me to change into.  I made my way over to her car and out of my sopping wet gear, chugged some water and lined up at the start.  I really didn’t have a plan for this race.  My goal pace for the long run in total was 10:44.  I knew that I hit that for the first 14 so I was going to let myself do whatever felt right once the gun went off.  I started off running with Chris and another friend Erin.  Both of them are training for the Detroit Half Marathon and have become very dedicated runners!  Erin had been at Beer Fest the night before and wasn’t feeling 100 %.  After the 1 mile marker, we were all still together.  They were pushing it and seemed happy to keep up the pace. Well, maybe happy is an overstatement but they weren’t complaining.  As we hit the 1.5 mile mark, I decided it was time to figure out a game plan.  I asked each of them what their respective 5k PRs were.  They reported, I calculated and suddenly I had a plan.  They were going to PR and I was going to help them do it.  I told them my idea and they didn’t balk.  We were going to slow it down just a tad for the next 1/2 mile. Once we hit 2 miles we would pick it up little by little by little until we were sprinting across the finish line with their brand new, shiny PRs in tow.  Boom!  Success!  I think Erin hated me just a little bit.  The last 200 yards were not fun for her (remember, she had been at Beer Fest the night before?!?) but she sucked it up (and by that I mean didn’t vomit) and she delivered.  Chris started off in a little bit more hydrated than Erin and therefore didn’t hate me as much at the end.  She took off and left us with about 75 yards to go and that allowed her to snag her PR.

Chris on the left. Erin on the right

Honestly, I think it was more fun for me.  Pacing someone to a PR is almost better than getting a PR yourself.  Thank you Chris and Erin for indulging me!

The PR women and their pacer

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Erin #

    I didn’t hate you, not even a little bit – I was mostly just trying not to quit and lie down on the ground, or vomit. But yesterday was still a really good day. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

    July 29, 2012
  2. Cheryl Ahrens #

    All of you really are the best ! Love you so much for all the support in the last 4 years.
    Cheryl (Alex & Jason’s MOM)

    July 29, 2012
  3. Chisty P, how totally amazing are you? Not only did you do your own long training run, but you helped two people reach their PRs-a game plan that wasn’t even hatched until during the race, i.e., you did the math in your head after running 15+ miles?! WOW! Congrats on a great run, supporting a great cause, and helping out two friends along the way!

    July 29, 2012
  4. Emily #

    I have run a few a marathon’s for Team in Training. Reflecting on the “agony” of a long run while running in honor of, or memory of, those who are battling/have battled cancer is inspiring — to say the least. At risk of sounding like an ad for TNT, if you are ever looking for help with paying for a great destination marathon (e.g,, Disney or Alaska), I urge you to run for a cause. They make the training so very worthwhile! Great job on your run. I think I will be ready to hit the road again next week.

    July 29, 2012
  5. Lynne Marie #

    Good job pacer, racer. I enjoyed reading your story and I am glad to see you are up and into your running plan. Good luck as the days become cooler and shorter and Chicago is just around the corner

    July 30, 2012

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  1. Detroit 2012 #happenings | Rise. Run. Repeat.

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