Finally, some nice weather.  We have blue sky and sunshine this morning.

Keith, Rick and I met @5:40am for a planned 2-hour run along the Service Rd. I was a service rd virgin, but had heard enough stories to know that I'd be in for some pain.  True to the stories – our run starts off with an uphill on Oak St.  A left-hand turn onto the Service Rd and we're heading west for the next hour.

The first two miles go by smoothly, but then we hit the 5 Sisters .. 5 hills between exits 5 and 4 of Route 6 (there are other names for them, but 5 Sisters will work for now).  The first two hills are fine – just bumps in the road.  The third hill is a bit tougher.  Hills 4 and 5 are a blur of huffing and puffing.  On the 5th hill I'm pretty sure I lost feeling in my left foot and my quads felt like they were being stabbed with butter knives.  I wheezed a question along the line of "was that hill last one??"  

At this point, I started the mistake of looking @ my watch every 5 minutes to see if we were closer to our goal.  44 minutes .. not bad.  I try not to think about the fact that we have 75 more minutes to go.  Rather, I focus on the next 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, those next 15 minutes have about 15 more hills.  Keith and Rick are promising me that the way back is a lot easier.  I don't believe them for a second.  In fact, I'm starting to think that this is some sort of freakish initiation into the running club.  I start to entertain thoughts of hidden cameras along the service road.  They're taping my misery for public display later.  These assholes.  I bet they're really doing it.  I consider kicking them in the calves and pushing them into the woods.

Finally .. our turnaround point is in site – Exit 3.  We hit it @ 58:00.  Hmmm .. that wasn't too bad.  I feel pretty good right now.  I don't know what all that nonsense was about wanting to kick Keith and Rick in the calves.  This run is GREAT!  We should do this again next weekend.

My high from the turnaround fades within the first return mile.  Crap. I slog through the next mile, but out of nowhere, hit a stride for miles 3-5 that has me in a zone that I haven't felt in a couple of weeks.  The legs move effortlessly.  My arms are in perfect sync.  Heck .. I'm not even huffing.  I notice that Keith and I are stride for stride.  Our footfalls coming @ the exact time.  Rick is just as smooth.  He's about 1 pace behind, but  moving smoothly.

We cross Rte 149 @ Exit 5.  We're about 15 minutes from the end point.  My high is gone – I'm back to looking @ my watch.  I can do 15 minutes.  I think of all my other regular routes.  What's 15 minutes on the Loop Beach course?  What's 15 minutes on my Osterville Loop?  OK .. I put my brain in those spots and try to get back in the zone.  

It's tough to get and stay there.  The traffic is getting heavier (it's about 7:30am) and the road is a little narrower.  My concentration is broken a few times by trucks moving too quickly.

The last hilll is in site.  Keith has prepared me for it.  It's a rise, a plateau and then a rise, but then it's all downhill.  I have his description memorized, but my god, words don't do it justice. 

My pace slows to a crawl. 

I'm two strides away from walking. 

Keith and Rick are pulling further ahead – @ least 30 feet in front of me now. 

I keep moving my legs. 

I will not walk. 

I will not walk. 

I'm barely moving forward. 

I'm standing straight up. 

Don't Walk!!!   

I close my eyes. 

I will not walk today. 

I continue to pick up my feet.   

I'm moving forward again. 

I can see the our right-hand turn in the distance.  Keith and Rick are almost there. 

I will be there soon, too.

The pace is returning.  I'm within 100 yards.

It's flatter here.  I can get some momentum.

I make the turn.  Finally, I make the turn.

Keith and Rick aren't too far ahead.  I can't tell if they've slowed down for me or just naturally slowed down @ this point.  I don't care.  I can catch up to them.  My legs feel like they can carry me the last 1/2 mile.

10 feet behind

5 feet behind.

I can hear Rick's breathing.

I'm next to him.  

I'm cursing @ him for the hill.   He laughs and says it will be easier next time, and I know that he's right.

We made it back to the Rick's house in 52:30.  Our return trip was 6 minutes faster.   

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It's been 3 hours since we made it back to Rick's house.  In that time I've eaten enough for a family of five.  I've drank about 100oz of fluids.  My heads a little foggy, but it's Sunday, and I expect diminished mental capacity on Sunday.

I'm busy planning my runs for the next week.  I'm debating about how far to go tomorrow.  One thing is for certain – my run tomorrow will definitely involve a hill or two.