Due to scheduling conflicts caused by my buzzing social schedule this past weekend, I was left to my own devices for last week’s long run - twenty miles. I chose the High Line Canal Trail as my running poison for my solo venture.
Twenty miles is a loooooong distance to run by oneself. It gives you lots of time to think. Or, rather, just keep yourself from feeling bored. I had plenty to keep my mind occupied between the move - coming up with a game plan to scrub the new apartment from head to toe and planning what I’d try to move during the evenings after work this week – my plans to see Denver’s very own The Epilogues at the iconic Bluebird Theater that night.
And then my mind started to wander. Girls, remember the game MASH from when we were kids? It’s making a comeback, by the way - I last played about a year and a half ago. Well, I started to play in my head. And it was the BEST game of MASH ever. Why? I’ll tell you why! In this particular game, there was no chance of ending up in a house, an apartment, or a shack.
Thanks to the impressive socioeconomic status of the people who live along the High Line Canal, they were all mansions in my game of MASH:
Off and on for a few of those twenty miles, beauties like these prompted fun questions inspired by delirium inspired by the 84-degree heat, like, “Hmm. Whom shall I invite to bed in the carriage house for the weekend first?”
And, “What shall I request of the chef for Sunday brunch out on veranda #3?” stated in a hoytie toytie voice just before slowly sipping champagne from a crystal floret, pinky up, in my head, of course.
Six miles out then back to the car to refuel went pretty quickly, actually. Refill my Gatorade flask, then out for four the opposite direction and back. Piece of cake.
I got back to my car, popped the trunk, replenished my Gatorade store and chugged the drink or two left in the bottle, then took a sip of water from my hydration pack before heading out for my final eight miles, wondering what would float through my mind next.
That was determined before I even reached for the ‘Start/Stop’ button to restart my watch.
Twelve miles, about 84 degrees, two liters gone. I was completely out of water and still had eight miles – over an hour of running – to go. Oh, noooooooo.
Those last miles were spent counting down quarter and half mile increments; guessing whether or not it was going to rain and, if so, if I would miss it; and talking myself into taking the next step at times.
Surprisingly, my pace was consistently faster than the first twelve miles, and I wasn’t feeling near death as I had expected to. Still, it was a long eight miles.
Luckily, I found a few trail goers who were willing to spare their extra water. I think I teared up a little as I watched one pour a good quantity of water into my hydration pack bladder, a few beautiful ice cubes amidst the waterfall of life-saving goodness.
I guestimate that they gave me almost another liter of water, and I’m pretty sure I finished almost all of it during those last two miles, which were about almost as fast as the best pace for the first twelve.
Three hours, two minutes, and seventeen seconds is a loooooong time to run by oneself. Luckily, this time, the long miles were full of mansions – and water refills – for me.
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts applied child development research and works to influence child development policy at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.