The Monkey Games
I'm running somewhere tomorrow. It's going to be beautiful. I can't wait.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." J. Handy
You'll ruin your knees!
""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)
Our local running club, the Nashville Striders, caters to runners planning their marathon by offering a series of long runs in the Spring and late Summer. The runs are timed to occur every other weekend leading up to the Country Music Marathon in April and the Chicago Marathon in October, but allow participants to springboard off into other Spring and Fall marathons as well. The long run series begins each cycle with a rolling out and back fourteen miler that connects a pair of locally run coffee shops, Bongo Java and Bongo Java East through downtown Nashville, along the famed Music Row and onto part of the Country Music Marathon Course. For the next month and a half, the long runs snake their way through different parts of town, taking runners through a lot of what Middle Tennessee has to offer, including neighborhoods, greenways, densely wooded and hilly parks, urban settings and a few long stretches of major roadways. Along the courses, the Nashville Striders and several of the sponsoring local running stores provide fluids and energy gels ever few miles. The runs are open to the entire community, whether runners are Striders members or not. And so with each cycle a camaraderie builds as people work towards their marathon goals.
My favorite of the long runs is the last one, the final training run that repeats with each cycle. The run, creatively named "Kroger to Kroger" takes runners from a Kroger grocery store in the bedroom and antique town south of Nashville to a Kroger in Nashville's Heart. Over its twenty one mile course, Kroger to Kroger, or K2K as it is often called, rolls through open farmland on the verge of redevelopment, then along an old Civil War road with stone walls, lines of ancient daffodils in the Spring and a lazy river in the woods, then through neighborhoods before plunging into Nashville's Percy Warner Park and its dramatic hills and dense woods. From here, the K2K course comes out onto three of the richest neighborhoods in Nashville, before edging a greenway, passing a Starbucks filled with googly-eyed early morning coffee drinkers before spilling out to the final Kroger. And like magic, the weather always breaks to a beautiful misty chilly or cool morning, no matter what the season leading up to it has delivered. Twenty one rolling beautiful and memorable miles. And with this run, all that remains is a taper and then a marathon. The training is the hard part and K2K is its crown.
Perhaps one of the reasons why K2K is my favorite from among the training runs in these series is because the first time I ran it, I was grossly under trained and I failed. I completely fell apart by mile nine and I essentially walked in the last twelve miles. When I finished, I could barely walk, and the pain endured for much of the following week. Three weeks later, doomed, I attempted the Country Music Marathon and lasted a full twelve miles before crashing. And with that I stopped running. For nearly three years my shoes remained lost in the back of my closet. Until the bug bit again and running consumed me. K2K is dear to me because the first time I ran it, it beat me. Indeed, K2K is dear to me because forever on I feel a personal debt to it for showing me my limits and for giving me a target to overcome. And so, in the years since I dug my shoes back out of my closet, I have attacked K2K with ever-increasing vigor, sometimes racing it and sometimes making sure to enjoy the scenery. But mostly, I run it so that I beat it. Rather than the other way around. K2K will never best me again.
Having run K2K now numerous times, one aspect has come to annoy me as much as it annoys others. It comes to this: K2K is a point to point course that connects one town to the next. That means we runners have to get creative when it comes to transportation to the start. Usually runners come together and create ad hoc carpools, meeting at the destination Kroger hours before dawn and catching a ride to the starting Kroger. Then, following the long training run, runners have to get rides twenty miles back to the starting Kroger to pick up their cars, which is often the last thing they want to do as they dream of ice baths, recovery drinks and possibly a beer. So about a year ago, some friends and I started joking that it would be easier just to park at the destination Kroger and running the course as an out and back. Kroger to Kroger to Kroger. Forty two miles. Very funny. Very funny indeed…
is there some story here?
I laughed it off, but JK persisted.
The man has been doing his homework.
Define : forbid
Define : official
Define : race