I'm a "Streaker." Now before you get the wrong idea, let me explain. The organizers of the Publix Georgia Marathon call anyone who has run all five previous spring marathon events a "Streaker." Through all of those miles, my trusty station wagon has been my constant companion. Though some people may politely refer to it as "classic," to me it's reliable and safe, and it has plenty of room for my running gear and my bike.
Midway through my training for this year's Atlanta Marathon, I was offered the chance to test drive AutoTrader's long-term test car, a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI affectionately known as Olga. Because my training had been going so well up to this point, I was a little hesitant to change any aspect of my routine. Plus, I was very used to having the versatility of my wagon. In my eyes, this new, sleek Jetta was a sports sedan. Without a bike rack or hatchback, where would I put my bike and all of my stuff? I weighed my options, and ultimately, the opportunity to drive the brand new TDI won out over my somewhat silly sports superstitions and initial reservations.
Olga and I didn't get off to a great start. From the exterior, I loved the look of the Jetta and its keyless entry. However, as I sat down in the driver's seat and started to orient myself, I became concerned. Where do I put the key? I checked the steering column, the console, and everywhere else I could think of. When I picked up my phone to sheepishly consult a friend, I found the starter button and pushed it. Nothing happened. Again and again, I pushed the button to no avail. During my first ten minutes with Olga, I alternated between thoughts of how to possibly start the car and thoughts of how I would explain my inability to start the car if one of my co-workers saw me. Then, like a flash, it came to me to check the owner's manual. After a quick consult of the trusty tome, I pressed the brake pedal, pushed the starter button, and away we went.
Our first run together was Track Day Tuesday. Track workouts are a great way for runners to increase their speed. Even though it took me a little while to figure out where to put my running stuff and to carefully spread out a towel on the driver's seat for the post-run drive, the first morning with Olga went very smoothly. The interior of the Jetta was much more spacious than I had expected for a sports sedan, but I was still unsure about the trunk space.
To keep things interesting, I work in bike rides on Wednesday mornings. The prospect of transporting my bike in a sedan, without a bike rack, was a bit of a concern. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of the Jetta's spacious trunk and fold-down rear seats. All I had to do was remove my bike's front tire and it easily fit into the expanded cargo area. There was plenty of room for my bike, gear and workbag.
On Thursdays, the plan calls for tempo runs. A tempo run is where you to try to hold a pace for a given period of time. While track workouts help you build speed, tempo runs help you convert that you newly found speed into a sustainable, future race pace. Getting ready for the day went more smoothly than the previous two, but I really noticed the difference in rear visibility between the Jetta sedan and my wagon. As I was backing out of our driveway, I narrowly missed our mailbox. Fortunately, Olga and I made it without a scratch.
With two great runs in the book for the week, I looked forward to the Saturday long run. Long runs are where all of the work of the week comes together. Long runs build the endurance necessary to succeed in a distance race. We were scheduled for a 20-mile run this week, so we planned a refueling stop midway. With the Jetta's keyless entry, I was able to easily access my refills during our stop, without having to fumble with my keys or fob. The long run went extremely well, and the contour of the Jetta's driver's seat never felt as comfortable as it did on that drive home for the post-run nap.
On the drive home, I put on my favorite Sirius satellite radio station and reflected on the week and the work completed. I knew I'd be saying goodbye to Olga soon, so we just enjoyed the time together and one last run.