Warning; long rambling description of one day’s run follows. If you don’t have a few minutes, hit your Back Button now.
OK Internet, I have confession to make. I was bad. It was fun and exciting but I know it was wrong and could ultimately lead to me getting hurt so I promise I won’t do it again. I’d like to especially apologize to Riona, to whom I particularly promised that I wouldn’t over do the training.
All that being said, I think that yesterday I may just have had my best run ever to date – both as a distance accomplishment and as an experience. For the past several Saturdays my long run has been three times around
I did my warm up, stretching, hydration, took my hammer gel after the second circuit and by the end of the third was feeling really good. I took a second gel, stretched for about a minute and then set off for a fourth loop. Running down to the other end of the lake and then starting around the other side, I continued to feel good and like a ship chugging along with all my diesels firing in a line. Then I got this funny sensation of warmth in my quads and calves like someone had poured warm butter down my shorts. I was passing the family picnic park area where I usually have to run through a drifting fog of baked beans and roasting hot dogs smell, but the sensation had nothing to do with greasy oil. My muscles had actually reached fatigue. I was feeling the burn. That hasn’t happened to me since the first week or so of training. Losing my breath, or getting a sore tendon or knee or something, sure, that happens all the time, but my muscles actually tiring before something else starts to quit? Nosir.
As I got to the steel foot bridge that means that my car is only about one quarter of the lake ahead, I got the strangest chill. The temperature was in the upper seventies but suddenly I felt so cold that I almost shivered. Was I bonking? Would a leg soon fall off? I don’t know what caused the chill but it went away almost as quickly as it came on. Somewhere around this time a podcast came on. It was one I’d never listened to before by an English audio enthusiast who was describing and then demonstrating different rates of echo and reverb added to an audio track of himself speaking. He had a really heavy accent that I could barely understand and he kept replacing words with nonsense words that sounded almost like the word replaced so that you could still make out the meaning of the sentence. I think the English call it rhyming slang. All the echoes and reverberation were making me feel sick and dizzy and I felt like this guy was an unwelcome guest in my skull. Suddenly my iPod, which is usually a trusted ally against the physical discomfort and mental boredom of a long run, had turned against me. I punched the next track button several times in succession and ended up with an Iron Maiden track which wasn’t great but was still an improvement. (Note to self; add The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Maiden to iPod). The areas of directly sunlit trail and areas of under tree shadow are also particularly vivid in my memory from this stretch of the run. I assume I must have been starting to suffer from low blood sugar by this point.
About halfway between the steel bridge and my car I developed a mean stitch in my side. It was really low and in the front, right about where your tummy gets tired first when you do sit-ups. Suddenly I really had to work to keep breathing. My body was drumming along just fine but I couldn’t get any air. I’ll be damned if I was going to quit because of that. If a muscle or joint or something had started really complaining I’d have stopped and walked but as far as I know it is just about impossible to hurt yourself from pushing through a stitch in your side – your diaphragm isn’t going to tear or your lungs come spooning up through a nostril. I concentrated as hard as I could on taking in a full breath and then letting it out again. I could see the tail end of my car ahead of me but it was like traveling across the plains, looking at the mountains that never seem to get any closer even though you go and go. A couple of times I sort of snapped out of it as my stride broke from a run into a walk and stumbled back into a run. Some of you might know what its like to be so tired that you fall asleep while marching. It is like dreaming and being awake at the same time – a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time, like my body kept trying to hold a quorum while I was away and vote to start walking. Then suddenly I was there. I tore off the ear buds, grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and did a little victory cool down walk. I had just done something I couldn’t even imagine doing three months ago.
Today I played golf and worked in the studio for several hours. I carried my son on my shoulders through the woods to my parent’s house without any aching or fatigue. When I roll my ankle I can feel a little tightness in my calves. My quads are a tad bit sore and my shins are a little warm but overall I feel pretty good. I’m going to take it easy, not running for the next two days and then keeping the mileage low for a few more. I think I got away with it. I ran four lakes and like the saying goes, they can’t take that away from me.