Geof: "What's on your schedule for Sunday?"
Me: "Mmm, 16.8 I think."
Geof: "Perfect, 17 miles. I can show you around town, really give you the grand tour!"
A running tour. Is there any question why I find this guy so wonderful?! :)
Turning right out of the Coralville Holiday Inn we head over "Super 80" and into town to begin our tour. Through a construction zone (no sidewalks!) and past the bagel bakery he used to work at in college. Onto the main strip through town and heading for city proper. Over some hills that make my lungs cry mercy, down the other side making my knees beg and plead. Down a winding road, across from a golf course, dotted with older condos and apartment buildings, "I lived on the second floor. And did speed work on the track over there. I did my laundry at that laundromat." I smile and take it in, imagining what life was like here so many years ago, so long before I knew him. I love thinking about that for some reason. I'm very nostalgic :)
The heat is already getting to me and I'm wishing I had more than just two bottles of liquid. Only a few miles into our run, and my stomach starts square dancing. Quick stop at the gas station and I'm good to go. Eff, it's hot! The A/C in the store felt so good. Why am I having such a rough go of it already? Man, I would expire if I was running Badwater; this heat is nothin'!
Up another long tough hill, totally exposed to the sun. Sweat dripping, breathing hard, silent. Along a tree-lined street that reminds me of home, "I always used to run down this street for some reason; I just love it." Wave hello to a man pushing a running stroller. Yards bursting with well-manicured color and tidy houses. "That's the park I was walking Kada in when I met that author." Over a bridge and past the football stadium, "Go Hawkeyes!" Turn down another shaded street and down a winding sidewalk to railroad tracks. Five minutes pass and the freight train is still moving slowly. "Wanna hop the train?" ;) "Let's turn around and go back; we can get under the tracks a mile back." Back where we came from, past the stadium again...you can almost hear a roaring crowd and feel the electricity of a big game. I now see why alums keep coming back here.
Legs are heavy, feel like sandbags. I think it got hotter! Running out of water, "I've got goose bumps, can we find a fountain? I think I saw one on the Ped Mall last night." Up and down and up and down, this city is hilly! Down Greek row: frat house lawns covered in beer cans, old furniture and remnants of nights' passed; sorority houses sit perfect and dainty on their lawns, waiting to wake up and start gossiping. Past another older building, "That was my first apartment ever!" Rounding the corner, I finally recognize an area. Making our way to the Ped Mall, I spot a water fountain, "Bam!" We fill up, glance at the watches..."miles to go before we sleep..."
Past a few more spots he used to live and skirting campus, we find ourselves crossing the River and make our way through a park, "Welcome to 5k alley!" Pointing to a large pavilion, "Rob and Tom used to host a race here and they did the awards ceremony over there." I can totally imagine it :) Leaving the park on the other side, we pass a woman walking her dog, she states flatly, "I think it's a little warm to be out jogging." Ppff. Past a driveway entering the park, he points, "That was a water stop. I used to help the store with Sunday morning runs when the owner needed a weekend off. I had to get up really early to put out all the water stops. I'd just throw everything in my truck and go. I don't know why, but I loved doing that!"
:) I love that.
Trying to focus, trying to not think about my lead legs, or aching stomach; trying not to think about my training schedule and what I need to do tomorrow. How about some mind games? "It's totally not hot today. In fact, I think it's a little chilly out, brrrr!" Okay, that's not working. Only six more miles to go...and it's so hilly! We head back towards the hotel, and after a couple of my melodramatic outbursts that he has learned to just let pass unnoticed, we crest the butt-kicking hill back over "Super 80". "Not quite 16 miles yet...do you want to stop here or finish it up?" I clench my jaw and look away from the hotel as we pass it so as not to be tempted, "Let's finish it up." So thirsty, so tired, so hot. I just want to be done running right now. The last mile stretches forever, winding through a lovely little neighborhood. And, finally, we turn around and head back. Almost done. My legs are going to give out. I exclaim, "How the hell have we run a hundred miles before? More than once?!"
And we're back. Oh glorious air conditioning, cold shower and chocolate Ensure. Done.
"Man, that was uncomfortable... But, then again, isn't that why we do it? To push through the discomfort and come out the other side, left with the memory of the struggle and knowing we got through it?"
I highly recommend doing a running tour the next time you're in a new place and want the lay of the land. I also highly recommend Iowa City...it's gorgeous.