Saturday, August 9, 2008

Savoring The Good Times

I'm one to enjoy the moment. With more than my fair share of tragedy in life, I know how to celebrate and enjoy the good times. And as we settled into our seats at the Royals stadium last night, the weather perfect, three rows back from the field, my twins each leaning on me... this was a good moment. I watched a ball of white fluff float in the air above me, caught on an invisible current. The sun slipped behind the stands, and beams of light bled through to play patterns and dance on the grass making it come alive and undulate like gently rippling water.

It wasn't long before I, too, had a hot dog, a bag of peanuts, a beer and some cotton candy in my lap. After all, carb loading before a long run is a good idea, right? The game went long. We didn't make it past the 7th inning. I was in bed a little before 11 PM, running gear packed earlier in the day.

So when my alarm went off at 4:45, it was no surprise I was so tired I could barely stand up. I wanted to skip the run. Run later. Run a different day. Anything but actually stay out of bed and drive to Lake City to run. But, in a generous compromise, my husband had skipped a big ski morning so that I could run. If I crawled back in bed, he would have made that sacrifice for nothing. My stomach hurt. I didn't want anything to eat; but no matter. I had planned this breakfast carefully, and forced myself to eat every bite.

As I pulled into the parking lot at 6 AM sharp, it was empty. I thought I might hurl, my stomach hurt and swirled with nausea. "Any questions on why you feel like this?" I asked myself. No, no doubt about it. I thought about just throwing up anyway. Maybe I'd feel better. But, everything I ate was strategic, and I forced myself to just deal with it. For a moment, I was glad this run was solo. I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Today's run was going to be a little tough. 14 miles, with a 2 mile warm up and cool down on the ends, and the middle 10 at race pace, 8:45. Neither my mind nor my body were ready to embrace this assault, but I had to be home by 8:30, so there was no time for procrastinating. I took off at a slow jog, my first few steps shooting various aches and pains through my protesting body.

The first mile slipped by easily enough. I was feeling better. Into the second mile, my nausea faded, my mind awakened. However, both miles were in the upper 9s, not the lower 9s, and I was worried if I was going to be able to make--let alone sustain--race pace. Mile three began, and I kicked it a little. My pace was all over the place, above 9 one peek, below 8 the next. It was a miracle that I actually finished that mile in 8:40.

But now, I was feeling quite good. The weather was perfect (66 to 71 throughout the run), no wind. The miles were ticking off comfortably, and I was getting better at managing the pace. I was beginning to see other runners, and now really wished I weren't running alone. I turned around at the end of the north trail on LBTT.

I was carrying a single bottle of gatorade, that held something like 16 ounces, and a pouch of cliff shot blocks I planned to eat after completing 7 miles. When I reached that point, I'd nailed the pace for 5 miles (8:40, 8:35, 8:37, 8:41, 8:36), and figured it was time to fuel. My intent was to not take a single walking step of any kind for 14 miles. So, I tried to open the pouch while sustaining this 8:40-ish pace. Ridiculous. I cursed the makers of these pouches. Do they think we carry power tools while we run? I needed a chain saw. I held the corner in my teeth and viciously ripped into the pouch, only managing to tear open a hole big enough to poke in a finger--not even get out a block. I plunged in and ripped again, cursing the bag maker a second time. I needed a jack hammer; something arguably difficult to operate at an 8:40 pace as well. Finally, I popped a single block in my mouth. It felt hard. Gooey. Not good. It took a mile and a half to chew up and swallow. That was the first and last block during the run. Not worth the herculean effort to open the bag.

I passed my car at mile 9, which would mean out 2 and a half more miles, then turn around. I began to see the Blue Springs Runners, smiling, looking fresh and pleasant, and having lots of coolers and large drinking stations parked at various points on the south course. I was jealous. I realized that the 16 ounces I'd carried wasn't quite enough. But, no matter, I wasn't stopping for anything. By the time I reached 11.5 miles and turned around, I knew I only had a half mile left at race pace. And by now, this was requiring some effort. So I was quite pleased when I crossed the 12 mile point, successfully nailing the rest of the hard part (8:34, 8:31, 8:29, 8:34, 8:28), and slowing to a jog.

Returning to the parking lot (and seeing a nice spread for those Blue Springs Runners), I punched my watch, very satisfied with myself. I met all my goals, and nary a single stop of any kind. But, oh, I was so thirsty. It must have been apparent I was staring boldly at that large cooler that said "Gateraide" (yes, that's how it was spelled), as a gentlemen behind me said, "Go ahead, help yourself!" I smiled, turned and we chatted briefly. While thanking him, I assured him I had my own cooler in my car (which I did), and I was done for the day (oh, yes, yes, yes, I was!!). I should have stopped him to chat more. Maybe I should be running with this group, they looked like they had some pretty good runners. But, in all fairness, he wasn't done, and sped north on the trail.

Energized when I got home, I was tempted to a whirlwind of activity after my shower. But, I reminded myself I needed to rest, and probably eat at some point (but food was not happening now). I snuggled into bed, dozed off for awhile, and was awoken by my oldest son about an hour later. I was seized with hunger, and although I thought I could return to sleep, I gave into my craving for an egg and some kimchi noodle soup. Yummy! I feel good now.

1 comment:

rundangerously said...

hi alex,
thanks for stopping by my blog! i appreciate the kind words!

this was a great post. have had that exact experience - getting up and unable (unwilling) to deal with a long run on the weekend! but ever so glad and happy after i ultimately drag myself out and get in the miles!

look forward to reading more of your posts!