I hit the snooze not twice, but three times. The damn alarm kept going off. I wanted sooo much to shut it off for good and sleep in. Afterall, it was Sunday. Frantically, I wracked my brain for alternate ways out of my early morning long run. I could run later, I could run with a different running group at a later time, I could run shorter, I could skip it all together..... None of these options were a good substitute, and I knew it. It was going to be hot that day, and my running group was running early and on the coast to avoid the brutality of the heat. It was my best choice. Grunting, I somehow got out of bed. Luckily, my "night self", forseeing that my morning self would have trouble, had laid out my running clothes already and made a pot of coffee. I eased into my clothes, slipped downstairs, and had breakfast. Brent groaned and rolled over, snoring away. Bastard.
As I drove to La Jolla Cove, I gulped. I was nervous. I had biked Palomar yesterday, and even though I wasn't sore, I knew my legs would be tired. 15 miles seemed like a long way. It had been a long time since I had run that far.
I met my running group, and we started off as the temps began to rise. I let the speedsters go ahead and chatted away with my good friend B., who I hadn't seen in awhile. We talked non-stop (I guess I should clarify: I talked non-stop while she listened). We talked about the economy, our jobs, training, self-confidence, life philosophies, and world peace. Well, okay, everything except for that last part. I glanced at my GPS and noticed I was going verrry slow. I didn't care. I wanted to start conservatively. I wanted to finish strong.
We regrouped at mile 5. I gave everyone a brief hug, and we parted ways. I felt like I was going on a long trip and wouldn't see them for a long time. They headed back and I plodded onwards. Afterall, I wasn't turning around until mile 7.5.
I struggled to transition into my new solo rhythm that first lonely mile. I was still going verrry slowly. This sucks, I thought to myself. I tried to speed up. Too fast. Then, too slow. I was having a hard time pacing myself. Was I going so slowly because that's what I was used to doing or because I really needed to? I decided to test myself. I forced myself to speed up to my goal marathon pace and hold it for half a mile. If it felt too strong, I would slow down. But, guess what? It didn't feel too fast! It felt rhythmic and easy. My breathing was still relaxed and calm. My feet felt peppy, snapping like rubber bands off the ground. I had found my stride.
I started taking in the scenery as I ran south along the Pacific Beach boardwalk. The cement path was crowded with dog walkers, strolling lovers walking hand-in-hand, other runners, surfers, moms with strollers, and lollygaggers on beach cruisers, weaving all over the path, as if they were still drunk from the previous night's festivities. It was too early for the party-goers. They wouldn't surface until noon, at the earliest. Plenty of time.
I hit the turn-around. I couldn't believe how fresh I felt. My legs had over 100 miles in them for the week but they felt springy and bouncy as a spring chicken. As I headed back, tantalizing aromas of breakfast burritos and omelettes from adjacent diners wafted through the air. I side-stepped a dried puddle of puke in front of neighboring bar, which quickly quelled the growling in my stomach. A distant fragment of an ancient memory tugged at me, reminscent of my college years, days long ago, lost and forgotten. Two young men, clad in black leather jackets and black jeans, with chains and hoops dangling from various holes in their skin, sauntered past menacingly. I smiled at them. Maybe I'm just too old to be intimidated anymore. Or maybe I am reminded of when I was young, tattooed, pierced, and a rebel without a cause. I avoided a used condom, discarded onto the boardwalk. Okay, that was just plain gross. Hence, I only run in PB 2 or 3 times a year, mostly for entertainment and amusement.
At this point, my stomach had started giving me some trouble. I needed a bathroom. Quick. I knew there was one at the Crystal Pier. Could I make it? I slowed, focused on relaxing, and used all my concentration to prevent discarding something disgusting of my own on the boardwalk. There were no bushes and no bathrooms in sight, and I didn't think the vacationers would appreciate me using their potted palm on the patio as a toilet. I didn't think I was going to make it. Finally, the bathroom came into view. I sighed a huge breath of relief. I did my business and continued on my way, lighter and SO much happier. I resumed my "speedy", marathon pace.
I headed back towards La Jolla. The roads became windy and very hilly. I high-stepped up all the steep hills and flew down the downhills. My legs felt fantastic. I picked up the pace. I zig-zagged around all the tourists flocking to see the seals at Children's Pool. I saw the park by the Cove up ahead. I was going to make it. I was going to do it! I imagined people lining the sidewalk as I sprinted, all cheering my name. A big grin spread across my face. I resisted the urge to throw my arms up into the air, shout "Whoo-hoo!", and run a victory lap around the park. I had run 15. As always, what seemed daunting at the start, became very doable once I started, one step at a time. Not only that, I felt fantastic, despite the killer week and weekend. In addition, I had pushed the pace and achieved my goal speed. Maybe I'm strong enough to work on speed at my long distances now!
After a latte and bagel and lox, I slipped into the Cove for a relaxing 1-mile swim with a group of friends. The ocean waters felt so soothing. It should have been called the "Seaweed Swim" instead of the Cove swim, however. I discovered it's much more efficient to slip in and out between the giant kelp beds, instead of trying to bulldoze my way through the middle. Who knew?
I type this in my compression tights, after some Yoga to stretch everything out, and a good, long ice bath. I will sleep well tonight!