The next time I suggest marathon training easily coexists with real life, please fill my inbox with tersely worded, confrontational letters to the contrary.

Last week I ran 15 miles total. I was supposed to run 27. What happened?


And drizzle.

I discovered I can get up at 5am and run before anyone knows I’m gone as long as the sun is shining. But when the irises are being pelted with rain, and my knee aches, and the sun feels every inch of 93 million miles away from the earth, I’m likely to stay in bed until I smell coffee brewing.

On Saturday, the sun streamed in through the window, alerting the overzealous budgie, whose cheerful morning song reminds one of a malfunctioning fire alarm.

I was awake.

I ran my errands early and then went down to the trail by the river. During the four days I had not been running, my joints and muscles had formed a workers’ union. Saturday was their first official strike.

Despite the silent protest, I went on with business as usual.

At mile five, I put on my headphones.

By mile six, my knee became belligerent. As I considered giving in to the demands of my body and declaring a shorter work day, a song from Superchick forced me to keep going. The refrain of that particular song exclaimed: “One more! Go one more! Don’t stop now! Go one more!”

I couldn’t let Superchick down.

At mile eight, the music ended, and the trail merged with a side road. As I looked both ways before crossing to the path, I saw behind me, a woman in a fluorescent yellow shirt. The shirt was piped in white and black and had words etched across the front. The woman had spiky black hair and a scowl on her face.

She was a runner.

And she wanted to catch me.

It didn’t matter if my knee hurt, or if my joints ached, or if my fingers were growing as thick as bratwursts, I would not, could not let her pass me. 

I didn’t have time to mess with the headphones. But now that the music had ended, I could hear her footsteps behind me. Soon I was running a nine-minute mile.

Garmin tracked the mileage. ¼ mile. ½ mile. I thought ¾ mile would never come. The sound of footsteps roared in my ears like thunder. Finally, my watch beeped to signal mile nine. 

I turned around. She was still 100 meters away. I had won! I casually checked my watch then smiled at her. Surprise flickered across her face, which quickly reformed into a scowl. I headed towards the parking lot. To my relief, she didn’t follow me. She didn’t smile either.

If my body screamed during mile eight, I didn’t hear it. If it complained at all during mile nine, I don’t remember. The sun was shining, and I had won.

I wonder if my fair-weather friend will be at Füssen July 25th? Or if I’ll see her at the Rothenburg Half-marathon June 13th?

I’ll bring the sound of her footsteps with me, just in case.


Miles: Saturday 10, Monday 3

Weather: Blah. But the forecast is good.

Questions: How do I train while cruising the Rhine River? Is it rude to do hill repeats while touring a castle? Am I really supposed to run fifteen miles the day we drive back?

Answers: To be determined.