So there's actually no race called the Grandma 50k, but I invented it myself. I suggest you invent one yourself. Plot out how long it will take you to get to your grandma's. My grandma lives 16 miles from me, so I ran the long way, the scenic route. The route that takes you to south Brooklyn, to Queens, through the Rockaways and up to the Five Towns, then Valley Stream, ending at my grandma's house.
I left my house noon on Friday. I headed through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, saying goodbye to snazzily dressed runners and hipsters as I headed for some of the rougher areas. I passed street names that would have caused a pit in the stomach to many, streets that I have been warned to not go down. People smiled at me, a silly white woman running through the streets, ignoring me. I was of no consequence to their day.
I was on some ugly streets for a while, busy streets. I asked pedestrians for directions and they were often perplexed. "That's pretty far..."
Finally, I was on Flatbush. Over the Marine Parkway Bridge, a bridge I had run over with Crista a while back, I looked at the water below me, powered ahead. I didn't like this bridge for some reason, but no matter. It must be crossed, unless I wanted to swim. As the temps were in the thirties and forties, run the bridge it clearly was. And it wasn't too terrible. Just bumpy.
The Rockaways have some lovely parts. My father, who taught there his entire career, and used to live there "when things were good" might disagree, but there are some pretty houses (Okay, so that's Belle Harbor), the boardwalk is nice, and the people are friendly. But there's a beach, and I'd rather be on the beach than any other place...
I asked these kids for directions; two of the girls appeared to be late teens, so I figured they might know. They looked at me snidely. "That street's down there. A while."
Then one of the smaller kids piped up, "You running there?"
"Oh, it won't be too bad."
"Where you came from?"
"It's by Williamsburg."
"Wow. And where you going?"
"My grandma's on Long Island."
"What? You crazy! Mad props!"
And I got high fives, which felt great.
I kept going. I was starving, fantasizing about those amazing sugar cookies you get at bakeries with all the sprinkles. Of course the Rockaways are not known for their bakeries and my next area, the Five Towns, is Jewish, and it was Friday just before sunset, which means that nothing is open. Sigh. Oh, the suffering...I dreamt of those cookies for a really long time.
I became really tired. My pace grew sluggish. Where I started 8-9minute pace and felt like I was flying, a 10minute pace felt extremely difficult through the Five Towns. I ate pretzels. I ate a gel. I drank some water, not enough.
And I started getting closer...Valley Stream! I knew where I was...I pushed the pace...I felt amazing. There was the shop where I bought my prom dress, the thrift stores that supplied my high school wardrobe, the park my friend and I ran at in high school. I no longer had to consult with my Google Map directions to know where I was going.
I pushed it. Hard. Faster. I got it. I really had it.
I sang while I ran. I breathed in. Out. I felt everything, I felt so alive, so amazing. "Umstead is going to be a blast!"
I arrived at Grandma's! I went to give her a hug, and she immediately began yelling at me. "You shouldn't run so far. Your body - it's going to fall apart. Your bones are going to collapse! Your knees! You shouldn't run!"
She immediately fed me homemade Italian stuffed peppers, escaraole and white bean soup, and chocolates, like a good Grandma. Then we went out to dinner, where I impressed everyone with my appetite, and looked forward to a night in bed...
Not every day has to be a race. I like training runs with a purpose, and this was a great one - I could see my grandma, run in a different place. I had to get there before dark or grandma would worry, so that forced me to keep a steady, strong pace.
And much like a Horton race, this was a 50k++.