“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr.
This week has been tough. I have not been feeling well, and my energy levels have been low. I have discovered that, in addition to my sinus infection, I have terrible allergies this season. Every time I go outside, and the wind hits my face, I feel awful. I finally succumbed to trying a shotgun-approach of allergy meds and found that Zyrtec really helped. It also knocked me out. The antibiotics I'm taking also have a bunch of nasty side effects (my last day is tomorrow!!!), including vertigo, dizziness, stomachache, and extreme fatigue. Yippy. After a few nights of not being able to sleep because of incessant coughing, my body felt like a zombie. I kind of felt like Towlie on South Park. "Dude. I don't know what's going on. I don't even know where I am right now." Except that I haven't taken any fun drugs and am certainly not enjoying myself. I went home early on Thursday and slept. And slept. Then I slept some more.
Despite feeling bad, I've slogged my way through several light workouts, trying to recover some of my fitness after 2 weeks post-half-ironman. I feel like everything is an uphill battle right now. Monday, I had a great weight-lifting session and not-so-great bike ride (outdoors, windy, allergies?). Tuesday, I had a good but quick swim. Wednesday, I slogged my way through a run and felt completely run-down afterwards. Thursday, I had a pretty decent albeit slow bike on the trainer (indoors).
Understandably, I was a bit nervous going out on my long run this afternoon. 14 miles. Ugh. That's a big load on the table. Plus, it's windy, cold, and rainy here in San Diego. Very weird. At 4:00, the sun came out and the rain stopped, and that was my cue. I stretched, strapped on my fuel belt and headed out the door.
These long runs are becoming somewhat of a religious experience. I can feel wonderful or completely devastated at the end. It's like an awakening. I felt like I was beginning an adventure. I was nervous about the weather, my endurance, my knee, my tummy, etc., etc., etc.
I started out slowly, settling into a relaxed pace, finding my stride, and taking it easy. I felt good. I sipped on my water quite often. Every 10-15 minutes, I took a gulp. I felt like I kept on top of my hydration the whole time and was able to keep from getting dehydrated. At mile 4, I took 2 salt tablets. I ate a Cliff Shot a little later. And another one later on. I couldn't believe how well my system was handling food, water, and electrolytes. Plus, it made my body feel so good. I could keep going and going. Like the Energizer Bunny.
At mile 6, I realized I felt good. Great, even. This was going to be a good run. This mood-elevating effect snowballed, and my feet felt light like a gazelle. I was able to really focus on my stride, elongating my steps, pushing with my glutes, landing evenly on my forefoot. At mile 8, a little cottontail hopped across the path. Everything was wet and smelled great after the rain. Flowers were even blooming. Plus, the rain dampened all the allergens, preventing my allergies from acting up. My knees didn't hurt but I stuck to my plan. I walked conservatively down and up the steepest hills but was able to run comfortably on mild slopes.
At mile 11, the skies opened up, and a deluge hit me. I started to get soaked. By this time, I was reaching town again and jogged in place at the stoplights. I realized it was cold. My legs were red but I felt warm and toasty inside. And numb. I couldn't feel anything. I was drenched. I started having weird thoughts. Like, "I could pee my pants and no one would know." I retreated inside to my safe, happy place, trying to block out the coldness and wetness and windyness of it all.
A bike commuter cycled past and gave me a big grin. We were both miserable and wet but what could we do but smile at each other? I gave him a big grin back. This grin stayed on my face for another mile. Yes, I was crazy for being out here but it felt great to be out and, yes it was raining, but there was nothing to do about it. I could be miserable or just choose to laugh about it.
Suddenly, it seemed kind of funny. I kind of liked the cold wind and hard rain. In a way, the extremeness of the weather combined with the many miles of running accentuated why I was out there doing it. To know that I'm alive. Ah, the joys of voluntary human suffering.
At that point, I knew I was going to finish. Not only that but I was going to finish at the pace I had set out to do and my knee wasn't going to hurt. For the first time, I realized I hadn't really cared about my pace. If I had to walk a hill to be on the safe side, I didn't hesitate. It wasn't about the speed or even the distance. I didn't want to get it over with. I wanted to enjoy this and stay in the moment. This was my journey. My adventure. I saw the streams of rain from the big rainclouds hitting the ocean in the distance. Juxtaposed to the dark thunderheads were beads of sunlight, streaming through the clouds in an ember gold. It was truly a magical run.
I just recorded it on Gmaps. What I thought was a 14 mile run was acutally 15!!! Bonus! And...it took me 2'22" and 42 seconds, which means despite taking it "slow", I still managed 9.5 min/mile. Not too shabby!