Today is my 24th wedding anniversary! I had the harebrained idea to run/hike 24 miles to celebrate with Scott. We are part of our local running club’s spring and summer FLRC Challenge. This challenge features 10 courses that you can cover the ground for and get miles to compete in different ways. These include fastest times, most miles overall, most miles on a specific trail and more. One particular course was to be my “one and done” course. It was one that Scott lobbied our organizer to have and I was pretty bummed about. It is hard for me.I don’t consider myself a “real trail” runner so I envisioned getting my required single entry on it and then doing easier courses. However, the pull to grow my confidence with trail running proved strong and I’ve now logged 59 runs on this course.
When we left for our summer vacation, I was first on the leaderboard for most miles. I can’t compete on speed, but I accidentally found myself in the lead for miles. This happened because I was working to make sure I stayed near the top of the Taughannock course to win the sign (note: I am not going to win the sign - Scott is on track for that and I can’t beat him but since we share a home it doesn’t much matter which of us wins this). In doing this, I managed to somehow be in contention for most miles.
Because everyone logs workouts on their own, if you are actually trying to win something you have to stay aware of the leaderboard. As we left for vacation, I noted that I was about 50 miles ahead of Liz (she was right behind Scott when we left for our trip). He was confident we would hold our lead, but I knew we’d lose it. I didn’t bother to check the board on our trip and didn’t plan to check upon arrival home. I’m a fatalist and assumed I’d lost it and couldn’t gain it back. Scott is a much more optimistic person than me and he checked right away. Yup. Liz had a powerhouse week and we were behind. We had a brief conversation about giving it up and went to bed (we did arrive home at 3 am from a very exhausting air travel experience).
The next morning I got right to work on baking for a wedding with no plans to hike or run. Elizabeth texted me mid-morning to ask if I could hike. I said I couldn’t and then reconsidered, knowing she was headed out of town for the weekend. Later that day I took a break and logged the 4.65 miles on the Rim/Base/Rim Taughannock trail. Liz logged more that day, something I noted because of the website of activities.
That evening Scott shared his plans. He’d do 20 the next day. What??? I can’t do 20 in one day. His plan was to run 10 in the morning and then run one in the afternoon and hike one with me. I agreed to do one run in the morning and to try again in the afternoon. It was clear he wasn’t going to give up most miles that easy. So, that means I am not going to give up that easily either.
Now comes the idea. 24 years. 24 miles. I love things like this. Let’s do it!! Scott thought it sounded cool. We started to talk about where we could look forward to eating afterwards to make it like a west coast hiking trip and hatched a plan to run the first one, hike the second, run the 3rd etc. We had to do 5 efforts and an extra mile to hit our 24. Very few things are open on Mondays in our area, but lucky for us, one of our favorite places, Two Goats Brewing, is!! Running for beer - yup. That’s our plan.
The morning was really dreary after constant rain overnight. I really dislike humidity and rain and we forgot to dry our workout clothes so we stalled, getting an 8 am start. Always the pessimist, I project a 10 hour finish. As we drove I said, “we may not get to go to Two Goats after all,” to which Scott replied, “we’ll finish in about 7 hours.”
The July 25th Anniversary Club
We started our first effort, going in different directions. I had pulled in an 80s Apple playlist which allowed my brain to roam freely back to my middle school and high school years. I could digress for hours here with stories, but I’ll spare you the experience! While running the first loop, I ran into my friend Lynn and her husband. She knew I was doing this and said, “you are doing 24 miles on THIS course???” Yup. Kind of crazy. There’s plenty of elevation and it is not that easy. I shouted that it would be a mix of hiking and running.
Soon, I arrived back in the parking lot. To hike, I wanted to change my shoes to my more cushioned Topos out of my minimalist Hokas. So, to avoid many shoe changes and because I was enjoying my 80s music, I suggested we run one more before we switched to hiking. Scott was game for that so off we both went. This time I ran into a colleague and his wife who shouted “happy anniversary” to me as I ran by them. I saw my friends Melissa and Walter who also wished me a happy anniversary. At this wish, I had a vague recollection that they might share an anniversary with us but I wasn’t 100% so I didn’t wish them one back. Soon, I was done with the out and back of the base trail and I caught Walter and Melissa on the north side. I walked the rest of the way up to the overlook with them, chatting away.
Upon arriving, we saw Scott talking to our friend Arthur. He and his wife Emilie were also celebrating their anniversary. Turns out it WAS Melissa and Walter’s anniversary so we all had a great laugh about this. Art and Emilie were heading off to breakfast at the Milkstand in Ithaca and Melissa and Walter were considering sushi. Scott and I had HOURS left before we could enjoy our dining experience. Scott said, “want to run the 3rd one and then hike the last two?” No, I most certainly did NOT want to do this, but it made 100% sense so I said, “sure” and off we went after a quick break for gatorade, a Bob’s bar and water.
Let’s talk about Gatorade
I haven’t had Gatorade in YEARS!! But, in NYC a few weeks ago we were doing a 1600 meter challenge effort (Scott found a series of tracks in Manhattan that would satisfy the 1600 challenge course) and we were really thirsty toward the end. We stopped at a store and got some Gatorade. You know what? It was sooo delicious on that hot day. We remembered that and bought some for today’s effort. As I gulped down my blue Gatorade before the 3rd effort I was really happy!! I chased it with some water and off I went.
The 3rd effort was hard for me though. My left front toe was starting to rub and I was getting tired. It probably wasn’t the best that I decided to switch back to podcasts. I was in the last episode of Bad Blood: The final chapter and then I switched to Biohacked: Family Secrets. Both were super interesting but harder to run to than upbeat 80s music. I walked enough of the ups for this that it was 6 minutes slower than my 2nd attempt and almost a full 10 minutes slower than my first. Still though, I was done with running for the day. Sure, we could have run more but part of this was about being together in the hiking portion and having legs left for more running on other days this week.
Hiking with Scott
We pulled out our poles from mountain running camp for this. I had tried them with Sarah Giesy on Lickbrook and they were super helpful for preventing falls. We started our hike in the “up/down/up” direction and quickly got into a nice groove. Scott shared his podcast stories with me and I shared with him. It was starting to get hot and I was grateful that I had changed my shoes to my Topos. They were plenty cushioned for this 2nd half of our day. We pretty much knew we had 3 hours left. He suggested running the base trail (it is flat after all) and I quashed his idea. Whiny as always I said, “I’m in hiking mode now and my shoes aren’t great for running,” when really I was just tired and hot and my toe hurt. As we walked up the 121 stairs on the north side, my brain sang, “put one foot in front of other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door” from Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It got me up the stairs!!
We continued on at our normal hiking clip and chatted about a million things before arriving at the car for our final stop. Originally we had decided we’d reverse directions for the last loop but I changed my mind and suggested we just keep going counter clockwise. It seemed easier to go up just a smidge more and then have the nice downhill and flat with the final blast of uphill.
During this loop we talked about our kids and our life and how happy we are together. It was kind of fun to realize that our first 3 loops run solo could represent our time alone in our lives and then our time together from our hiking time. Or, we could go year by year through our 24 years of marriage and remember things (we didn’t go down that rabbit hole very far actually - by the time you are on loop 5 of 5 and are tired it takes a bunch of effort to think of things). On the last time up the stairs I sang, “The Ants Go Marching” in my head. As I did this, I remembered all the times I hiked this trail with the kids and how often I sang that song to get them up the hills. Soon we were back at the car and embarked on a short mile long slow loop to just make sure we hit 24 (we ended up hitting 25 so I guess that means we’ll make it another year together!!) Midway through this last bit, my watch hit 10% power - luckily there was enough left for me to finish.
On the west coast when we finish a hike we go straight to wherever we plan on going all dusty and stinky. Scott suggested early in the day that we go home and shower before heading to Two Goats. I sighed and said, “ok” reluctantly. I LOVE the west coast and the crazy long days of hiking and how amazing everything tastes when we are tired and hot. But, in the east coast world, it isn’t as common to see dirty hikers stroll into places so his plan made sense. So after a quick rinse off we headed out. It was great fun to look over the lake together and enjoy a super late lunch (by the way, Scott was right - it took us just over 7 hours to finish).
Well, I’m temporarily 2 miles ahead of Liz. I do not kid myself that I’ll stay there. There are 3 weeks left and I think it is going to be game on for this last hurrah!! It is rather fun. A healthy fitness challenge where it doesn’t matter if you win or lose - either way you grow. Of course that isn’t going to stop me from trying to win. Accidental or purposeful, I found myself near the top of this miles leaderboard so why not try to stay there?