Surfing is going to be my downfall.
... and I don't care.
Since I started running (seriously) about a month ago I knew that my training schedule would encounter some serious deviations due to Mother Nature. When there is a swell in the water I have to surf it. I guess ever runner has their nemesis and for me it is going surfing instead of running. I mean running is great and I enjoy it immensely, BUT if there is a chance to ride amazing waves in good conditions you better believe I'll be out there paddling around and my running shoes will be left in my closet.
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of what I call a small summer swell. Some storm out beyond the Bahamas created it. So our surf went from being nearly flat to head high conditions with offshore winds almost overnight. My friends and I surfed five days through Sunday. I managed to get a 3-mile run in on Friday, but that was it. No scheduled long run on Sunday; just surfing. Good thing surfing is a form of exercise that probably rivals running. I'm sure many runners have their nemesis to deal with and if mine is an exercise equatable with running then I don't feel so bad.
However, let's get down to business!
6 a.m. this morning. My alarm goes off. I crashed last night before 10 p.m. so I'm piping with energy (I haven't had 8-hours of sleep in days). My normal routine is to get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed and run. But that's for short 3-mile runs...
Today calls for experimentation. My self inflicted "flexible" marathon training schedule calls for a 7-mile run. I have not run 7 miles in years. Last winter I ran a 10k (6.2 miles) with no training and it almost killed me. So, I get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed and eat. Yes, eat food before running (amazing concept). Not much food, but enough to hopefully keep me from hitting a wall and "running" out of energy. I also chomp down a Cliff Shot Blok with water.
I set out by 6:30 a.m. and head toward the beach. It's a fun route along riverside drive where I watch the sunrise and head down the North Causeway, over the bridge (hill!), down Flagler Avenue and up the beach.
I encounter lots of walkers, bicyclist and dog walkers, but only one other runner. She's older than me and comes out of nowhere and passes me just before the bridge. Endurance wise I'm great, but I'm starting to feel some pain in my left knee. This is only the 3 mile mark. Not good. I banged and twisted this knee pretty hard while trying to tuck into a barreling wave that closed out on me a few days prior. I resist the urge to pace this woman and let her fly on up the bridge.
I never would have guessed it, but running up the incline of the bridge actually makes my knee feel better. By the time I'm on the other side I'm back to feeling fine. The beach is scenic. It's low tide and as wide as two football fields. The ocean is flat again. I feel good knowing I'm not missing any wave action at the inlet. I reach the halfway mark, turn around and head back. Vicarious, by Tool, starts on my iPod. I zone out for all 7-minutes of the song. I'm finally at that point. The point where you are just running to run; completely warmed up and in that zone where there's not much pain and you feel like you can go indefinitely with the knowledge that it WILL hurt when you stop. But for now, I run.
I stop at mile 5.5 because there are water fountains near some boat ramps. I don't feel like I need water so I make myself drink. I also experiment by taking a Power Bar Gel pack and downing it with some more water. The little 3 minute break pays off and I finish off the remaining 2-miles with a little added speed.
Final time 1:03:39.
Total Distance 7.05 miles.
During the final mile the knee pain returned, but it was not severe so I didn't stop. Endurance wise, I was still full of energy at the finish. This is great news because after that 10k last winter I felt like I was going to die at the finish line. Today, I was almost the same pace (perhaps a little slower) than then and I felt like I could run another few miles at the end. The only major problem is going to be my leg and knee strength. Can they hold out for 26+ miles? Time and many.... many short runs should tell.
On a funny side note:
Other than the water/gel stop, I ran the entire 7-miles this morning. Stopping and walking crossed my mind several times. Each time I thought of this hilarious commercial that my surfer friend Joanna and I found this past weekend on the Internet. It might just be my wacky sense of humor, but I've watched it about 30 times and I still laugh my ass off each time! So when I was about to stop this morning I just kept thinking of Mr. T shooting Snickers bars at me! Enjoy: