The challenge my challenge created…
Now some of you reading this, are probably thinking does Maria have any faults? To that, I say, not many (just kidding); however, the liabilities I have always seem to add a twist to my life and sometimes to the lives of others.
Anyone who has known me for a while can attest that I am not the best at directions. When I got married, my head bridesmaid Sandra delivered a great speech about me and our friendship. She started the speech by saying that when going anywhere I should consult with Joe first. When we were in college, I took Sandra running in the dead of a Syracuse winter. I told her that we were doing a quick loop around the university. After 2 hours of running and me reassuring Sandra that “we were almost there,” she astutely realized that I had no idea where we were. We ended up in a gas station in a nearby suburb in Dewitt using an old pay phone to call everyone we knew to pick us up because our hands were starting to show signs of frostbite. Needless to say, it was a long ride back and rightly so, no one was incredibly happy with me that day.
Unfortunately, this challenge hasn’t gotten any better with age. After my own wedding in my home town where I lived for 18 years of my life, I got Joe and I lost on the way to our hotel. We drove around for at least an hour. I told Joe to drive to my house, which was in the wrong direction, and then I would be able to get us there. He refused calling me ‘a homing pigeon’ because I can only know where I am going if I originate from my house. He then looked up the directions on his phone and very quickly we were found.
When I was living in NYC with my roomie and friend Kimberly, she quickly realized that this was an issue. Knowing that much of my work was commuting around the city, she used to sit me down every night and ask me if I knew where I was going the next day. I can tell you that this was a life saver for me because most times, I had no idea.
Living in Southern California, my issue is even worse. This is a city that you can only traverse by car and there seem to be never ending roads going in every direction. Joe bought me a GPS for Christmas one year (which later was stolen) and I used to get lost even with a GPS. He could never figure it out. He said, “Maria, it is impossible for someone to get lost using a GPS.” My response, “The people who made this thing never met me.” Now, I don’t leave home without my MapQuest directions in hand. I don’t like to be late so I always multiply the MapQuest directions by 2 and then I add an extra 30 minutes to get lost. So far, this formula has worked for me.
It is no surprise that Joe maps out all my training runs. He also hands me a typed up list of all the turns and the street names that I need to go on, which so far has made it impossible to get lost. However, I am excellent at making the impossible possible, especially when it comes to directions.
This morning my partner Leanne and I took off at 6:30 am to do what we had thought was 17 miles. During the first part of the course, we ran straight up Runyon Canyon, which is a huge 1.5 mile mountain that is uphill all the way. Leanne kept jokingly asking me as we ran up the hill if Joe was mad at me or had planned to send us on a death march? I assured her that it would get easier and until we got to the top, I could tell she was losing hope in me.
We ran the rest of our run and no lie; it was by far the hardest run I’ve ever been on. Through the last couple of miles, I actually had to drop off and go into a coffee shop’s bathroom to get sick. My body was also in intense pain, it was even hurting for me to grip my water bottle. I wanted to just shrivel up and die, but I knew that Sunset Blvd wouldn’t be a good place to do it. So, I kept on going.
Joe got worried when we were gone for over 4 hours. He called me and I assured him that I would be home soon and that I just got really sick. I had also lost all motivation. I knew that the time it had taken me to run 17 miles wasn’t great. The thought of having to run almost 9 more miles for the regular marathon seemed impossible.
When I got home, I started to cry and I told Joe that I wanted to quit. He comforted me and asked what he could do to help me for next time? I told him not to make the course so impossible. I told him that starting our run up Runyon Canyon was just too ambitious for a 17 miler. To that, he asked me what I was talking about. I told him that he said to run up Runyon. He pulled out the directions and showed me that nowhere in my directions did it say to run up Runyon. It only said to run from one entrance to the other. Then it clicked for both of us, this was no 17 mile journey.
Joe went on to mapmyrun.com and found out the truth. Leanne and I hadn’t run the 17 miles that we thought we did, we ran close to 20 miles. When I called Leanne, she also had figured this out. She said that she didn’t want to tell me when we were running, but this felt like a much longer run than 17 miles. I had only expected my longest training run to be 18 miles next week, but now I can say my longest run was 20 miles! So once again, my directional challenge had thrown in a new twist. This time however, it was a pleasant surprise for both Leanne and I.