Wednesday, December 19, 2012

15.5 Miles and Not a Penny More

On Sunday, I was supposed to run 20 miles. I was all set, or as all set as I could be. I had run 16 miles on the last long run, so this would just be a push of 4 more miles. Doable. I awoke at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning- that's FOUR. Four in the morning. Just to be clear, I got out of bed at FOUR A.M. to go run. I got my gear together (water bottle, hat, phone arm band, earbuds, recovery drink, and towel), ate some cereal, and got in the car.

As I drove out of my neighborhood and toward the highway to go to the meet up spot, drops of rain began falling on the winsheild. Oh, no! I was wearing a technical t-shirt and a cotton hoody. That cotton hoody would not fend off rain, it would just soak it up like a sponge. Yuck. I seriously considered turning around and re-gearing. "No, just go," I told myself. It was 65 degrees, and I could run without the hoody in the rain. I had a hat, would keep rain out of my eyes. At this temperature, that would make running in the rain not too bad.

How the sky looked at 4 a.m.
I turned onto Mopac and began driving south. The rain was serious, no-kidding rain now. There were grumbling sounds in the distance, and as I approached downtown, those grew into unmistakable thunder sounds, soon accompanied by unmistakable lightning flashes. Oh, no. This was getting really bad. The temperature had dropped ten degrees. I parked and sat in my car in the pouring rain. The sky lit up with lightning. Another person in my running group tapped on my window and said that the group run was cancelled. I drove back home and went back to sleep.

When I awoke, there was no sign of rain and I pulled myself together. "I've got to run," I thought, "because the 23 mile run will be impossible without this one." You see, I had convinced myself to train for a marathon. I ran a full marathon in 2010, and I have one of those 26.2 stickers on my car. I wanted to re-earn the sticker, to prove again that I could run a ridiculous distance and not die. I had paid the pricey change fee to switch from half to full for the 2013 Austin Marathon. I was committed.

Then I did this run. I logged onto MapMyRun, which will help you track a workout route in one of two ways. The phone app I have is great- I can just turn on the app and hit "record" and it will draw a map of where I have run. It will let me know how far I've gone and how fast, using the phone's GPS. Another way to use it is to open up their web page and pull up a map and draw your route on there. It shows you how far your route is and where each mile marker is. I drew a 14 mile square route from my house up to Pflugerville, and back. I grabbed my water bottle and stashed some cash in my Spibelt and left.

I ran up Dessau, which after two blocks ran out of sidewalks. I ran on the grassy median for about four miles. It was not so bad, except when I saw a bit of rebar jutting randomly out of the ground. There was a Coke can nearby, and I jammed it over the end of the dangerous metal. From then on, I watched the ground in front of me like a hawk. I ran to Pflugerville Parkway, from which I could see Loop 45, and turned left, running up an incline and into a strong wind. I ran past cows and was mostly in the country for a while. As I was looking over at the cows, a hawk swooped down out of a tree, soared across the field, and flew right in front of me! Wow! That was the closest I've ever been to a hawk.

At about 7 miles, it was time to turn again. I turned left and stopped in to buy a bottle of water. I filled up my water bottle and dropped in a fizzy tab of Nuun, which contains electrolytes without adding sugar. I ran on, through lovely neighborhoods with nice, wide sidewalks.

At around ten miles, I started feeling discomfort. My feet were beginning to feel tingly and tired, my back was starting to hurt a little. I decided to focus on running with good form, which I knew would prevent my back from really becoming painful. From there, I was really counting the miles and looking for landmarks. The neighborhoods ended, and I had to cross the road at an intersection hosting a Dairy Queen, a Taco Bell, and a Wendy's. The smell of that place was awful. None of the pleasant, come-hither smells of fast food- only the grease odor prevailed. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

On I pressed, southward. I was in the country again, just fields around me. I heard a sudden "bap!" immediately to my right. I turned my head just in time to see a dove having just been hit by a car, flapping his wings in an attempt to fly, and then getting smacked by a second car, and falling helplessly to the ground. Oh, very sad. I looked for meaning in this incident, but I guess sometimes things collide in this world.

Oh, back into my home territory! I began checking my mileage every 15 minutes. 13.5, 13.75, still nowhere near 20 and not even 16. I decided I would head back into my neighborhood and just circle around till I hit 16, the distance of my last long run. I was at 14.75 in my neighborhood, and my body was in ridiculous pain. When I ran, the pads of my feet cried out in pain. When I walked, it was the backs of my knees that were on fire. I started just walking, unable to trot anymore. My inside voice was telling me to lie in the grass. "But... the neighbors will think I've died." Lie down lie down.... "No! I'm walking home!" And I did, limping, I made it home having registered 15.5 miles.

And right then and there I decided that I am not running a marathon. If 16 kill me, then ten more than that are not going to work at all. So I'll have to be happy with 13.1 in February. There should be a sticker that says, "I was going to run another 26.2 so that I could feel like I still deserve this sticker, but instead I'm going to run 13.1 because I don't want to hurt myself like that." It would say that but in a cooler, more concise way.