Monday, January 7, 2013
I went to bed Friday night looking forward to a run I had anticipated for a couple of weeks. Our running group, John's Striders was planning a 13.1 mile morning trip through the hilly and beautiful Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon course. I was excited to see everybody again, and to take on one of the most challenging and gorgeous courses I've ever run. When I woke up on Saturday, a wave of depression washed over me. Everything I saw, everything I tripped over in the dark, every whine and yip from the dogs cut into my heart and sucked the life out of me. I tried to get myself together. I lit the kettle for some herbal tea, but by the time the whistle started, I knew I wasn't going anywhere this morning. I fell to the couch, pulled a blanket of despair up to my ears, and sobbed myself back to an uneasy sleep.
Mrs P woke me long after the sun had come up. She bent to kiss me good morning and I burst into tears. She held me, whispering softly until I could talk about what I was feeling. Lovingly, she coaxed me back to sanity. This disease would have killed me long ago without her love and patience. Eventually, we had a cup of tea and some oatmeal. It turned out to be a pretty nice day with my sweetheart. God had another training plan in mind for me. I needed love to exercise my heart's strength before the road tested its resolve on Sunday.
Sunday morning, I was determined to make up the miles I had missed the morning before. I felt like I owed it to the friends who ran, and I owed it to myself, too. In a way, I guess I also owed it to Mrs P. She had worked too hard bringing me back from the brink for me to spend another day on the couch. At 10:00, I was off into the cold Lexington morning. 37° and steely gray skies that seemed just a few degrees from snowing. I started at a nice, comfortable clip, running without walk breaks, just taking in the air and watching the streets pass by. It was a peaceful morning. Most of my neighbors were either in church or in bed. I did the 4.6 miles to the Arboretum in good time, and made my way to the parking lot to meet C. We did 4 miles together, running 2:00/walking 1:00. Later, I would regret not starting walk breaks from the beginning. Our run was like most of our training together. Good friends talking about life and work, punctuated by long, comfortable silences as we patted and puffed up and down the rolling hills. I really enjoy running alone, but there are certain people whose company I love having during a workout. C is one of them.
The last part of my run was not nearly so carefree. After C and I said goodbye, I continued off on the long course I had plotted for myself that morning. The next mile or so was along very busy road with no sidewalks. Fortunately, the beautiful lawns of the stately homes run right up to the curb, so I helped myself to some manicured turf. The soft ground felt good under my feet, but it requires a little more attention. There are holes and sticks and muddy spots to avoid. I was much too far from home to turn an ankle. At mile 11, I went back to the walk break intervals that C and I had used. It wasn't long before I realized that I had waited much too late to start them. Soon, cramps started in my upper calves. I suspect that I was getting a little dehydrated, in spite of the cold and the small amount I was sweating. My hands started tingling. I wasn't sure if it was from the cold, or something worse, but I had no choice. I kept moving. My pace slowed from 13:30 to 14:30 in the course of a couple miles. By the time I got to mile 13, I was hurting pretty badly. I had trouble keeping straight, another warning sign of dehydration. I stopped using the interval timer, and started using light poles. Run to this one, walk to the next one, run to the one after that. I don't know what the timing was, but having a clear, visible limit to my intervals seemed to help. I "ran" the 14th mile in just under 17 minutes. I don't think I've hurt this much since the marathon in May. I jogged my way to the final intersection of my route, then walked about a quarter of a mile to the house for water, hot tea, bananas, and a good long stretch on the den floor while the dogs licked the salt off of me. It's not exactly a massage, but it's a relaxing way to finish a workout anyway.
This one gave me a real sense of achievement. I managed to beat down the devil who tried to keep me off the road, even if it did take a day to get it done. After my nap, I made about four quarts of juices to put up in the refrigerator to get the week started. The colors, sounds, smells, and textures that are part of this task really relax me. It was a good finish to a good weekend.
And so, while it may have been a rocky start, training has begun. It's good to be back.
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