I was woken at 5:00 by the sound of rain pounding on the windows. Even in my groggy sleep-induced head fog the only thing that crossed my mind was, “Crap. This better stop before I have to get up and do 20 miles.”
I was smacked awake by the beeping of my cell phone alarm, what some refer to as “the first insult of the day”, but that is only in relation to the work week, where here it could be considered “the first motivator of the run”. I fumbled through the darkened house unlit by any sunlight hiding behind the rain clouds that had stopped falling, but still hung heavy. I drank my coffee, ate an english muffin and jumped in the car, forgetting to give michelle her goodbye kiss. (Yeah, I got crap for that one on the return).
Driving to the meetup parking lot I looked to the sky to see an ominous and, honestly, quite frightening cloud line. I mentally switched to my love of adverse weather, when all of a sudden lightning split the sky. Then again, and again, and again. I debated turning around, but decided after getting up this early I at least owed my other running cohorts the chance to consider a run. I tried to psyche myself up to run in a downpour peppered with lightning strikes, figuring the trees would deflect any deadly blow. Suddenly, I became aware that these are probably the sort of thoughts that preceed the death of any lightning victim. “Oh, I’ll be fine. I mean really, what are the odds?” I wasn’t sure if my desire to run in the rain was passionate dedication or the stupid side of machismo.
Fortunately, after pulling into the parking lot another running buddy showed up and we both looked to the sky. Our third and final runner for the day pulled up next to us and this time when we looked to the sky, there was a decent sized hole forming above us. The downpour ceased and with just a light drizzle falling we all stepped from our cars to start the run. The 5:45 wakeup time was not to be for naught this time.
With a couple hard workouts earlier in the week we all started off slowly and stiff. Running past the paying entrance to the park we were about to run in we slipped into a trail that fed us directly onto the roads that criss-crossed and wound through the natural scenery. Fearing water logged trails we opted to stay on the roads, unfortunately offering us no cushioning or respite for our already weary legs.
Still, we ran on somewhere around 7 minute pace. 3 miles in we double backed to pick up their coach and cruised with him for the next 45 minutes, him forcing the pace at times, which helped loosen our legs and make the effort much more pleasant. Soon enough though, after working him up a gradual hill, he fell off the back and we continued on at varying pacing. Despite the rough week we had enough to press on deep into the 20 miles, but the grey skies and overall soreness started to take its toll.
One mile split read 6:40, but that was after a drop in tempo, so up until then we were probably pushing 6:00 to 6:30 pacing, a respectable pace for a purposefully long, slow run.
At about 1:20 – 1:30 I felt an early morning hunger creep into my abdomen and made me wish I had eaten a more substantial breakfast. My thoughts wandered to vegan waffles made in my belgian waffle maker.
The next 30 minutes wore on and on, as if time had slowed, and I caught us all taking peeks at our watches, hoping what felt like the past 10 minutes wasn’t the actual 3 that our watches read. We jumped onto a trail to break the monotony and instinctually picked up the pace, which felt great for a brief period until we hit 1:45 and time slowed yet again. One of the other runners verbalized,
“Have you ever felt like if you laid down, that you just wouldn’t be able to get back up? Or that you just wouldn’t WANT to get back up? I really feel like that right now.” I think we all did.
We popped out from the woods and made our way out of the park and back to the cars, adding a short stretch of pavement to complete the full 20 miles. We weren’t broken by any means, but we certainly weren’t thriving either.
I drove back home, fighting the urge to stop at a store for like 50 gatorades, or at the local coffee shop for 80 soy iced mochas. Instead I stumbled into the house, inhaled two bowls of cereal, then some oatmeal, before laying on the floor like we discussed during the run, and debated not getting back up.
And I repeat, this is still just the beginning.
20 miles – Anywhere between 6:00 and 7:00 minute miles.
Breakfast – 1 english muffin w/ peanut butter, coffee
Post run – 2 bowls of the natural version of rice chex w/ soymilk, coffee
Lunch – Just a bit of leftover pasta from yesterday, coffee
Dinner – Boca “chicken” pattie on wheat bread, sweet potatoes, beets, water
Snacks – Peach, water, coffee, salted edamame