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First Short Run after a Tough Long Run

June 1, 2009

After a sprintime drought that left our canals and lakes dry and thirsty, South Florida seems to have settled into its mostly predictable summer weather pattern. It’s raining most afternoons now, and sometimes these storms linger into the overnight hours. Though I check the radar every morning before I set out, it’s becoming even more important now. Case in point: I heard thunder and rain in the wee morning hours of Saturday, so as I was making peanut butter toast and getting ready for my run, I turned on the only channel that does early Saturday morning news and waited for the weather report. The meteorologist reported that showers were in the area, moving gradually toward the coast.

I generally run my long runs on the beachfront road, since it has water fountains every half-mile or so. I waited about fifteen minutes, and the radar picture seemed to be improving. I started driving east, but the sky still looked ominous, so I decided to put in my miles closer to home so I could bail on the run if I needed to. Though I generally don’t shy away from wet-weather running, I’m not in training, and it’s no sense being masochistic about running when you don’t have to be.

I parked next to the coldest water fountain in our neighborhood, where I have a great three-mile loop mapped out, and set out. It was a little after six. Thanks to my twingy right hamstring/knee/calf, the first couple of miles went slowly–I also stopped several times in the first half mile to take off my right shoe, convinced I had a pebble caught somewhere between shoe, sock, and sockliner.

Stopped for water after the first three-mile loop and set out again for the second lap, this time running closer to 10:30 miles instead of 11-minuters. I was feeling easier, though running the same territory was getting boring and making me feel like screaming, and I was planning to do 12 miles, or four times around this loop. I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

By mile 6, second water stop, the clouds were moving east, the sun was starting to get stronger, and I downed a Hammer gel to power me through the second half. I knew repeating the same course twice more was insanity, and that if I ran it once more I would quit at nine miles. I made the decision to add some miles at the mid-point to try to make it to ten or eleven.

By mile seven, I’d found the flaw in my plan–I’d need water long before ten miles, never mind eleven. I made a quick detour for water (warm, but wet!) and then headed back. I found myself back at the cold water fountains at mile 10. I stopped and had a long dialogue with myself–maybe other runners can relate?

I’m really tired. Really hot. Really thirsty. I’m not in training, and 10 miles has got to be good enough. I’ve been out on the road for over 90 minutes, and I’ve run well–three miles at 11-minute pace, three at 10:30, two at 10:15, two at 10-minute pace. Really. All this as temperatures kept climbing, in unrelenting humidity.* On the other hand, I really wanted to do 12 miles today. I’m only 2 miles away from that–that’s one mile out, one mile back. Done in 20 minutes.

Yes, I’m that stubborn. I set out for one more mile–longest mile of my life, at least in training–and came back, to finish 12. I was very thirsty, and very very hot.

I told the Boss when I got home that those 12 miles felt as long as any 20 I ever finished while in marathon training. The heat, the humidity, I don’t know what else–I was spent.

By the end of the day it took a great deal of effort to remain standing to make the kids’ dinner and give them baths–my muscles were drained of energy. It was with trepidation, therefore, that I set my alarm to get up on Sunday for a short run. But I remembered that when I set about to realign my schedule with Mondays as a rest day, considering my busy schedule on Sundays, all along my concern was could I do a short easy run after an 18- or 20-miler? I thought, this is my chance to find out. I just specifically said, those 12 felt as tough as a 20. Let’s find out if I can do this.

So I set out. I would settle for nothing less than 4, would have been ecstatic with 6, but ended up with 5. 10:30 pace. What did I learn? That it can be done. I wasn’t in pain; though starting was tough, eventually I got into a rhythm, and I got the miles in. And let me tell you, after the 12 horrendous miles the day before, those 5 weren’t nuthin’. I ran ’em listening to Fdip, and Steve Runner kept me entertained the whole time.

Got home, had breakfast, got cleaned up, and went to church. Celebrated our confirmands and graduates. Cried some. Laughed some.

Learned that I’m a better runner, and a more stubborn one, than I had feared.

Run along, people.

*Historical weather data collected from the closest station and reported through WeatherUnderground reports that, during the hours of my run, temperatures climbed steadily from around 75 to 78 degrees, while the humidity remained fairly constant–at around 100%. Now, I find that interesting. If the humidity were 100%, wouldn’t it be raining? It wasn’t, though. Just unbelievably, soupily, dehydratingly, undescribably muggy. Florida. Gotta love it. Seriously starting to consider a 4-bottle fuel belt again.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2009 12:28 am

    Thank you for this post. I am struggling this week with my runs and I only need to book 3-4 4 milers. For some reason they have been hard to come by the last week. I’m glad you could find a way and its an inspiration to me.

  2. the Ringmaster permalink*
    June 2, 2009 1:34 pm

    I’m not sure where you are, but if you’re anywhere in the southern climes, don’t be discouraged. A 2-mile run in our torrid conditions is an accomplishment. Don’t worry about your pace for a few weeks–just running is what’s important. After two weeks, you’ll acclimatize and find yourself right back at your impressively quick pace (I hope you don’t mind I snuck a look at your blog). You’re a speedster–can’t wait for the race report from the 2010 Houston. Keep me posted!

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