I hit the 30K mark or almost 19 miles just as I passed my elementary school where I attended from Grades 4 till 8. It was almost three hours into my run, a 21 miler that I didn't intend to venture so far away from home. But there I was, striding a little harder as I retracted my boyhood steps. How did I get so far in a simple long run?
It was on those streets so many years ago that I got my first taste of running. We were sent out to run around the neighbourhood, only now I know the route is almost exactly two kilometres. My Grade 6 teacher, Mr. O'Connor, would send our class for one or two loops. On those runs, I experienced pain and what I now know to be middle and long distance running, an art that I've only recently learned to do well and of course love.
Some 22 kilometres earlier, I was at the 5 mile mark, the downtown still visible when I looked back, and I was contemplating doing a few out and backs. How boring, I thought. Then an idea occurred to me. I run so very far yet I always end up where I started. I decided then that I would run to the home where I grew up, past my parents house and beyond. I never done that trip and knew it to be at least 13 miles away.
The journey took me past my old high school that I hit on the 7 mile mark, and then on the long road towards the old stomping grounds. I passed my parents' street at mile 13 and had to burn off another 8 miles, so I went into the neighbourhood where I went to grade school.
A few loops, a few stops to buy water, and I was suddenly doing the two kilometre 'cross country training' grade school route I'd done so often. I had done 20 miles and I wanted to do one more, so I went behind the old school, and for the last mile, I ran laps around the 300 metre track. Visions of walkathons, relay sprints, road hockey, my first softball home run and Grade 5 recess came flooding back. I hit the 34K mark, stopped the watch and did a fist pump. That was epic run, I thought, adding today's run to those past memories. I went to the nearby plaza where I used to buy fries with gravy AND ketchup after school, and gobbled a few slices of pizza, a bottle of water and a bottle of orange juice, with barely enough change to take the train back home.
34 kilometres or 21.14 miles in 3:00:28