It was months ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
The pinnacle long run of my summer mileage – the completion of a 13.5 mile run (14 from where I started) that the team called, “Postcard.”
Technically, my coach had told me to back off on the mileage two days prior, and I had conceded – while promising myself just one more long run. It was late in the afternoon when I started, but during the summer, the sun didn’t set until 8 or so. I started at my house on Division Street, positively giddy, trying not to let my childish excitement push the pace as I had SO many miles to go.
At about 1 mile into the arb, I saw Marcus coming back from his run. I gave him a high-five and said, “Come run 14 miles with me! Do Postcard with me!” He laughed and gave his typical, “Ah, no thanks.” But I continued on merrily because high-fiving Marcus Huderle, MIAC Steeplechase champion, is a good omen. At least for me.
Speaking of omens, the week before, I had completed an 11-mile out-and-back (with an extra mile tacked on to make it 12) called Vampire. While running this route, which basically followed the first half of Postcard, I hit odd intermittent rainclouds while running on Canada, a few miles north of the Carleton arboretum. After the 2 minute shower passed over, I happened to glance to my right and see a double rainbow! Alone on a dirt road in the middle of cornfields, I cheered ecstatically. I Threw my arms up towards the heavens and screamed, “Thank you God! Thank you Lord! A DOUBLE RAINBOW!” I spent a mile or so chuckling to myself. The last time I had seen a double rainbow was my freshmen year on the 2k Loop in the arb. When I told people this, their response was this viral video. While hilarious, it sort of cheapened my experience and enthusiastic reaction.
After seeing the double rainbow, I had stopped at a small cemetery at around the 5.5 mile mark. Perusing a few of the headstones, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some were dated from the mid-1800s, right around the time Carleton was founded. There were more recent ones too, including one from 2010 that marked a hauntingly fresh mound of dirt – a soldier from the war in Afghanistan. At one point, I discovered the graves of Tom and Olive, whose house at the end of Canada marked the turn-around point for a 9-mile out-and-back (named, of course, “Tom and Olive”). The sign on their mailbox was no longer there, but seeing their grave made me feel connected to a part of team history.
While running Postcard, I stopped here briefly to walk through and examine more headstones. This has become a tradition for me – go for a long run, stop in the Red Rose Cemetery, continue with long run. I’m a bit of a sentimentalist, especially when I’m alone.
When I reached the Postcard bridge, I found a good pointy rock and carved my initials into the back of a metal sign on the right side of the bridge. Writing myself into history. It’s funny how that’s one of the things I want more than anything – to be remembered as a character bigger and quirkier than my actual self. To be a part of the stories the team passes down, to have my experience affect and influence the lives of others.
I didn’t run into anyone until I was about a mile away from finishing. Running the Ambroe mile backwards, I happened to run through my friend Kaitlin’s movie set! I’m friends with most of the creators of their feature length film, so I stopped briefly and chatted while attempting to stretch on a fallen tree (my bones were SO tired!).
I continued on, and with 400 meters to go, I was running past the outdoor track on the strip of dirt that runs parallel to highway 19. A runner was coming towards me on the same strip of dirt. He looked to be around my age, but I didn’t recognize him. I gave him a quick once-over, noting his stride, speed, and form. Conclusion: definitely a competitive runner. Of course, he didn’t move aside until the last second, and when he did, I screamed, “QUACK!” His response: “SQUISH.”
I guess it wouldn’t be an epic run without a stand-off with an Ole.