Monday, March 30, 2009


My past two runs have been tough and a little discouraging.

Last Thursday, an eight mile tempo run was on the schedule. I was anxious to break-in my new running shoes and excited that I would be able to run outside. Dark, heavy clouds hung over the skyline all day and the rain started just as I was leaving work. It was really more of a drizzle, so I decided to brave the elements and complete my run outside as I had planned.

In the time I took me to change into my running gear (ten minutes), the drizzle had become a steady rain shower. As I was still recovering from a second ankle problem, I promised I would constantly check-in with my body during the run. During the first mile, my legs didn't know how to react to the new shoes. At first, they seemed pleased with the new cushioning and support. But my knees weren't used to it yet and the cold, wet weather wasn't helping. My ankle started twinging with pain.

The runner's loop was completely empty. At first, I enjoyed the quiet; just the steady sound of raindrops and my feet striking the pavement. But soon I was lonely - I missed the usual after-work crowd along the loop, which, if nothing else, provided me targets to focus on passing. I also missed the unappreciated security that comes from running with such a crowd.

After about the third mile, my stomach started cramping. The only relief seemed to be when the pain in my ankle became more intense, shifting my focus to my right foot instead. I cut the run short by one mile - I decided it would be more beneficial for me to get home and dry than trying to force myself through an additional mile.

I completed 7 miles in 59 minutes; certainly not the tempo pace I was hoping for, but not bad given the conditions. I trudged into the apartment; my beautiful new shoes were completely soaked through, as was the rest of my body. My stomach was still one big knot, but I forced down part of a Clif bar to help my muscles recover. But my stomach did not appreciate the effort and responded by tying even tighter.

I stood under the hot water for five minutes before I could feel my body again. My knees took an extra few minutes to recover.

I figured my long run would go better on Sunday morning. Rain was again in the forecast, but the morning only saw a few raindrops. I headed out for an eight miler a little after nine o'clock. Just a mile and a half in, my stomach again tied in one big knot; I felt nauseous. The delicious spicy salsa and burger with chipoltle ketchup from the night before suddenly seemed like an awful idea. Luckily, my ankle had recovered from whatever it's problem was on Thursday and only presented a very minor pain.

For the first time in a long time, I was not enjoying my long run in the least. At no point could my mind wander off; the entirety of my run was spent trying to coax my stomach to staying down where it belonged. After the first three miles, I my body was ready to call it quits.

I'm getting anxious about the half marathon. I lost some crucial training while nursing some injuries and, suddenly, 13.1 miles seems a lot more daunting than it did just a few weeks ago. I needed to finish my long run today. Eight miles certainly didn't equal 13.1, but I needed to finish to boost my waining confidence.

Just keep going...just keep going...just keep going," I kept repeating to myself. It may not have been the most creative or inspirational mantra, but it was all my brain could provide at the moment. And it worked - I did complete all eight miles. It wasn't a pretty eight miles; I finished in a depressing 1 hour 10 minutes 57 seconds - but I did finish.

After a hot shower, I climbed back into my sweats and (slowly) ate my breakfast. I tried not to think too much of how slow my pace had been that morning or to let my mind wander with "what ifs?" about the half marathon.

And I promised myself - no more spicy foods before long runs.

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