Wake up. Saturday morning. The Machine is long-gone to work as usual. In my own bed. Love my bed. But, know this is the last time I will be in it for about a week. For tonight we drive. All night. To Kentucky from Tampa for 800+ miles straight up Interstate 75 to my in-laws near Cincinnati. For the holidays. While in a weight-loss challenge. While training for a 50K ultra-marathon. With a new puppy, The Machine, and my 4-year old Little Human. This should be interesting.
Must run. At least ten miles…hopefully more. Get gear together. Ask neighbors behind me if they would like arrange a kid play-date prisoner exchange program plan today…with them going first. Neighbors agree, and take first watch. Take Little Human through the backyard and drop her off. Start run. Trying a new pair of shoes and insoles today four-weeks before the race. Very cushiony, feels good starting out. Until the blisters begin just before mile six. I need to get ten-fifteen+ in today, not good. Try to push through. Interesting what you think about while running sometimes. Thinking, this is happening on a training run during mile six…I’m running thirty-one miles in four weeks. In Clearwater. With no idea what the conditions will be with weather, etc. This. Terrifies. Me. Mile eight. At least two blisters get worse. Curse myself for switching shoes and insoles this far into training. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Head home while managing to get ten miles in…but, not good. And, have to drive twelvehours tonight.
Know this is going to be a very long night. Try to nap while watching the best men’s college basketball team in the world destroy UCLA (UK, if there was any doubt). Manage to sneak-in about a twenty-minute nap around the carnage that is this game. Only twenty. Yikes. Get up and start packing. It is seventy-five degrees here and thirty-two where we are going. And I have to run every day. Pack a lot of stuff in a large suitcase. Have no idea how we are going to fit everything in the vehicle. Presents. Luggage. Puppy crate. Puppy. Little Human. The Machine. Make first attempt to cram what it takes for us to survive for one week into the SUV. Fail. Try again. Fail. Take my suitcase out and back to my room. Remove half the contents. Put only essentials back into small backpack. Really do wonder what I will wear for a week. Success. Everything fits in car. Kind of…
Seven sharp. Hit the road. Driving I75 North and ten-minutes in, Little Human asks if “we are in ‘Tucky yet?” This might be a long trip. Little Human then asks why we are not at the airport yet. We failed to give details to Little Human about our twelve-hour+ road-trip adventure. Little Human explains to us no fewer than twenty times we must fly to Kentucky. Not drive. Fly. Little Human loses argument and falls asleep two-hours later. Puppy asleep also. Decide to go into Dale Jr. meets Godzilla driving mode. Yes, I am the guy who will fly up within inches of your bumper and flash my brights if you choose to drive sixty-five in the fast lane. Fall into a row of cars going really fast. Hang with this group for about two hours. Amazed nobody was pulled over. Wonder what the odds are for me to be pulled over during this twelve-hour jaunt. At least 3:1. Hit the Georgia line and go through Valdosta. Know this is a speed-trap. Slow way down. No worries.
Now an hour North of Valdosta. Cruise control set comfortably at eighty-five. No traffic. Speed limit of seventy. I conclude there is no way I will get pinged for eighty-five. However, Trooper Bowen has other plans. Look in rearview mirror. Watch car driving ridiculously fast catching-up to me. Wondering if this is my long lost armada from a few hours ago. No such luck. An impressive array of strobe and takedown lights explode behind me. Immediately think about how I miss my cool red lights while I was a volunteer firefighter. The Machine begins jabbing at me. Nice. Pull over. I know this drill well. I have talked my way into a courtesy warning no less than twenty-five times during my lifetime. Have license out with hands on steering wheel with window already down. Trooper Bowen introduces himself. I bid Trooper Bowen a hearty hello and happy holidays. I ask Trooper Bowen a rhetorical question. “Was I going too fast?” Trooper Bowen agrees. Explain to Trooper Bowen I am driving to Kentucky for the holidays and thought eighty-five was a reasonable cruise-control figure given the current traffic pattern. Trooper Bowen agrees, except advises the roads are wet from the rainstorm. Ask Trooper Bowen what a reasonable cruise-control figure would be at this time of morning given the weather conditions. Trooper Bowen advises eighty or less. Consider debating Trooper Bowen on the physics of five miles per hour less with rubber and asphalt. Decide against this strategy. Decide to mirror and match his southern drawl as much as possible without mocking him, apologize, and go to my “old faithful”…I was a firefighter for twenty plus years. Trooper Bowen gives me a courtesy notice and begins to make small talk. Believe Trooper Bowen is fairly lonely tonight. Bid Trooper Bowen goodbye, set the cruise-control to eighty per his instruction, and recalculate my estimated arrival time based on using my one free pass warning tonight. Dammit.
Ten hours into drive and now in Kentucky. Making decent time. Everyone asleep. Weird how driving this far/long somewhat mirrors marathon running. It really becomes mental. Flip radio channels. Listen to an entire cycle of ESPN SportsCenter radio. Have made four stops already and have vowed to not make anymore. Have also drank enough coffee to make an elephant jittery. Decide to give in and wake The Machine to let her drive for a bit. Defeat, but I gave it a good shot. Arrive at in-laws in just over twelve hours. Not bad. Take a nap, watch football, and enjoy the time with family. Oldest daughter arrives from Louisville. Love having both of my girls together…and, very lucky to have the best in-laws in the world.
More to come…