Because long distance running isn't an endeavor one tries on the spur of the moment, I won't be out in front of Bower's Mansion this morning for the start of the Silver State Marathon.
In a masochistic sort of way, though, I'm going to miss being there. I mean, since there really isn't much else to do at 6 o'clock in the morning, why not set out before the crack of dawn for a 26.2-mile run? I ran Silver State last year with Appeal publisher Jeff Ackerman, and it truly turned out to be an enjoyable four-hour and two-minute experience.
We enjoyed the scenic view of a sunrise across the Eastern Sierra and Washoe Lake. And there was a lot to talk about ... strategy for the upcoming fantasy football draft ... newspaper strategy ... even some race strategy.
We spoke about the soft sand on the the course through the Washoe Lake State Park ... We spoke about the many little details involved with running a marathon; for example, the critical importance of staying hydrated, drinking fluids early and often (during a two-hour-plus workout, if you wait until to become thirsty before taking a drink, then it's too late) ... We spoke about pace and the importance of being patient in a long run like this ... And more thoughts were exchanged in regard to writing a nasty letter to the course architect as we continued to meander through the sandy campground (after about eight miles, it seemed like we were permanently entrenched on a beachhead) ... We also lamented at about the 15-mile mark when the course backtracked and took us past the same trails we had just labored to run past.
Running eight miles of sand may have slowed the pace, however, I did have a more favorable outlook afterward because my knees made it through a marathon in better shape than ever before.
Interestingly enough, my first marathon was on a slightly different Silver State course in 1979. I went on to run 15 more over the next five years after that, but had not run one since 1984, which made my return to Silver State all the more special.
By the time we hit the 19-mile mark near the underpass on Highway 395, the topic of conversation began to shift more to how we were going to get through the run. This was Jeff's first marathon so he was in unknown territory at this point, but you could see the old Marine mentality kick in - he was going to get through it, and that's all there was to it.
By this time, our top priority was to replenish nutrients (if not brain cells) we had lost over the previous three hours. Packets of Gu became our best friend - I've also found flat Coca-Cola is good for an instant sugar boost at this point - we stuffed bananas in our mouths and poured Gatorade over the tops of our heads. That still didn't solve everything.
"Odd things start happening to your body after three hours," Jeff wrote in his column after the race. "I began to worry that my arms would be permanently locked in the running position, making it very difficult to dress or brush my teeth."
Nothing like that happened, of course, although we both had second thoughts after the 20-mile marker when the course turned up Franktown Road for an uphill climb of about two miles. I still suspect my hamstring was left behind as road kill somewhere on that stretch.
In any case, we managed to plod our way to the finish line. At that point, we didn't care what our time was; the only thing that mattered was getting to the finish line and to the buffet line. We finished together. Jeff made it to the buffet line; I didn't (ah, that missing hamstring).
Jeff will run the half-marathon today, and even help direct parking before the race. My training time has been down all year, so I will be there simply to watch. But like I said before, I'm going to miss being out there running ... it really is a fun way to spend a Sunday.
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal