A December to Remember –West Coast Version

By Craig Snapp

“A December To Remember” is an apt description of the 2004 edition for my running partner and me. Mayhaps, some background might help:

I’m in the 29th Year of my running career, and my running partner is in the 8th year of hers. We (accidentally) started a running streak on April Fools’ Day (naturally) in 1998. So, when we got to December 2004, we had a streak of 6 2/3 Years, averaging 8.1 miles per day. Then in November 2004, we’d met two folks that went by the names of Scott Ludwig and Susan Lance. They were doing a 24-Hour Run, and our chats with them during, and after, WARPED us FOREVER!

When December started, my running partner had just changed jobs, which resulted in her running solo, and doing fewer miles than normal. I began running with a goofy guy (who could be a DARKSIDE candidate). His minimum run is 12 miles, so I just tagged along, and ended up doing much more than my 8.1 mile average.

The first Saturday of December, my partner and I were re-united, talked about Scott and Sue, and somehow managed to battle the rain and wind for 16 miles, thinking DARKSIDE thoughts. The next day was the anniversary of my marathon PR. The good news is that it’s 2:42, which is 6:11 per mile. The bad news is that this was the 23rd anniversary! (What is the Statute-Of-Limitations on trying to claim a PR!?) The rain was even harder that day, and since I’m a SoCal wussie, we went to a parking garage. It’s open on the sides, so one can still “get the experience” of the wind, yet remain rainproof. The challenge is that it’s 6 laps to the mile, and after 72 circlings, we stopped, feeling a bit like Sambo’s tigers.

I resumed my runs with Goofy on Monday. A few years back, he was an Ultra-Goofy. He did a couple of Six-Day Runs (with a best of 412 miles), quite a few 24-Hour Runs (a best of 133 miles), some 50-Milers, some 50Ks, and 100+ Marathons (PR of 2:46). All I have to do is position myself half-a-stride behind him, ask about baseball, his running career, or the good ol’ days, then just follow along and listen. Before I realize it, we’re at 12 miles, and then I simply decide whether to halt, or go on for a couple/few more, depending on where he’s at in his monologue. It’s a great way to pile up some mileage, without having to use either of my brain cells.

December’s second Saturday, my partner and I went to the High-School Cross-Country National Championships. We ran before, during, and after, and were so inspired that we ended up with 21 miles. One of the highlights was that early in our “after” portion, we ran into (almost literally) Mebathom Keflezighi, more commonly known as “Meb.” Four months before, he’d won the Silver Medal in the Olympic Marathon, and one month before, he’d finished second at the New York Marathon with a PR of 2:09. (His coach for the last eight years is the man who was my volleyball coach in my first semester of Junior College, 36 years ago. But, that’s a long story, for another time. We got to chat for about five minutes, and I was so excited! At the end, I asked him what his time goal was for his next marathon. “We’re talking about,” he said, “a 2:05!” (He’ll need that, because he’s running London in April, which has the four fastest marathoners of all time! Two of them have 2:05 PRs, and the other two have 2:04s!) The following day, we were still so amped up, we did a spirited 16-miler. (You don’t have to believe me, but driving to our start, we saw Meb flying by in the opposite direction. Truth.)

Then I was back to following Forrest Goofus. I did get in some pretty good numbers for me. And, I also learned more about his many, many trips to Yankee Stadium as a teenager, in the early ‘60s, for seventy-five cents. Mantle and Maris, for three thin quarters! The right stuff!

That Saturday, my partner was out of town, so I ran with The Goofster, and our friend, The Oldster. I met them after they’d done several miles, so, when they stopped, I’d done 10. For some combination of inspirations, I continued on solo, and finished with another 21-mile Saturday. When I got home, I was quite happy, and figured the day could get no better. I was wrong!

Awaiting me was the Winter 2004 edition of Tales From The DARKSIDE! For a much longer time than I’d spent running, I savored every one of the 148 pages of this Tome Of Endearment! WOWZEES! I’d entered a New World! The next morning, my money was in the mail for our membership in this Alternate Universe! That allowed me to do a solo (fairly rare for me) 13-miler, fantasizing about my future life.

The next day, my partner was back, and she had the next fourteen days off for winter break. Her previous week had been 33 miles. She asked if I could help her improve upon that. That morning, I started telling her about the newsletter, and we did 15 miles, which matched her total from the previous five days combined. On Tuesday, we continued our newsletter analysis, and got in 18. Using that same accelerant the following days, we somehow managed to do a 16, then a 17, then an 18. Christmas Day we both had family time constraints, yet still snuck in a 16, and finished the week with an 18. That totaled 118 for the week, our All-Time PR. Obviously, that was an 85-mile increase for my partner over her previous week. (Isn’t that close to the recommended maximum improvement of 10% per week !?)

The first day of her second week off was quite cold and windy, and we were quite pleasantly fatigued. But still did a 12. The last four days of the month, we were back to madness-mode, and did 18, 16, 18, and 20. That shattered my All-Time Monthly-Mileage Record with 482 miles, or 15.5 per day. She had done the first 19 days of the month at just over 5 per day, and the last 12 days (uplifted by The Light Of The Darkside) at just under 17 per day.

(The last two days of the week were not in December, however, the melody lingered. We did an 18, and an 18, giving us 120 for the week, a new All-Time PR.)

We met Scott and Sue in November, and their inspirational fire’s ember gave us “A December To Remember”!