You know your girlfriend is a runner (and dietitian) when you take her to get her wisdom teeth removed and one of the first thing she tells you after, but while still heavily sedated, is that she wished they had used a different sedative instead of the one her oral surgeon chose because the other would have had more calories!
May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, is a public holiday in most of the world except the United States. I backpacked through Germany once upon a time and discovered that on May Day nobody works and everything is closed. This May Day happened to fall on a Saturday and with only seven weeks to go until the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon it only means one thing -- long run!
Originally, a few friends planned to join Jenny and I for our scheduled 15-miler, but with new injuries plaguing our friends, Jenny and I found out the day before it would only be the two of us. I changed the route ever so slightly to accommodate only our needs and we ended up getting a slightly later start that if we were forced to meet friends at a pre-determined time. This meant one thing and that was "heat." Now Jenny and I both prefer heat over cold, but with a record-reaching cold winter I think my body acclimated more to cold this winter (plus it was my first real "running winter") so when the temperature reached 90 degrees toward the late morning and miles 13, 14 and 15, my body screamed a huge "WTF?" But more on that later!
We started off happy and eager, well nourished and hydrated, rested and loose. We created an imaginary start/finish line for fun where a large crack in the asphalt spanned across the road in front of my house. (as you can see once you stop looking at my girlfriend's beautiful runner's leg)
Early on the temperature was a perfect 70-degrees. The sun was already up, but a thick haze was keeping it cool. "If only that will last most of the run," I remember thinking. By mile 4 we were on the beach heading north with the wind at our backs and feeling good. (Look how happy we are!)
By the time we reached the inlet (jetties), or about 2.5 miles later, the haze was long gone and the sun was really heating things up. I was drenched in sweat. Now I like sweating, but once I'm acclimated to the Florida summer heat, which I'm not... yet, well, maybe now after this run I am. Hmmm.... I'm not sure. Anyways, I spotted two spinner sharks breach the waves a few yards off shore as we passed my normal surfing spot. The ocean was flat, side-choppy and nobody was in the water. Jenny's untrained eye never saw the sharks and I decided not to mention them nor point them out, but let her keep telling me a story (she's going to learn to surf now that's it warm and I don't want to freak her out before she gets her toes wet)!
Next was a mile long stretch of a boardwalk loop through a park. This is wear the heat really started knocking on TallGuySurfing's dehydration threshold. We made it to the bathrooms and I noticed we'd been running for longer than an hour and I haven't used a bathroom yet. Uh oh... I down my second Gu, drink some water and eat a handful of roasted almonds and dried cranberries that I pre-mixed and had in a baggy in my pocket. I know from experience that when I don't have to use any restrooms on a long run that it's a sure sign of becoming dehydrated, so I drink even more water. We continue on south weaving through beachside neighborhoods and even a short trail that Jenny was delightfully surprised to see before reaching Dees house. Dees was doing some work in his garage and was nice enough to let me stash my shirt on his patio. It was drenched. I'm talking wring it out and drink a cup of sweat drenched! It felt great to be rid of that hindrance and the air on my bare skin temporarily cooled me down. They asked if we'd take their golden retriever, Roxy, with us, but when we told them we still had 5 miles to go they simply said, "nevermind." Haha...
Then there was the bridge.
In my infinite wisdom I decided to place the high-rise bridge at mile 12 thinking that in the Seattle Marathon the large hills appear to be around the halfway point. This seemed like a good idea at the time... that is until you've ran 12 miles, it's 90 degrees and now there's this big freaking bridge in your way!
As one might notice from the picture Jenny is merely a speck in the distance. Yup, that's right. She is totally "chicking" me and this bridge! Actually, we discussed it and decided she should run ahead since I was reduced to a speed walker pace and going slow up hills actually hurts her legs and I was afraid it could aggravate old injuries if she stayed with me. Now at this point of the run we had only walked during water stops and ditching my shirt. I'm proud to say that I did not stop on the bridge and when I got to the top I released a few "choice" words for what I thought of said bridge. (This self-portrait just before those "choice" words is probably the worst picture ever of me and I'm totally owning it!)
Never fret! Jenny was waiting for me at the bottom. We had to cross an intersection, which she tells me I almost walked out into oncoming traffic. I suppose I was a little narked, hypoxic, stupid... whatever you want to call it. I made it about another half mile before giving in and taking a walk break. Hey, Hal Higdon says it's ok! Although, I'll admit, I felt pretty damn defeated at that point. After maybe 100 feet we start running again and make it to the last water stop in a park by the river. I feel like if I try and take my last Gu I'll throw up so I decide to drink only the water and splash some on my face and neck. (Below you can see Jenny looking like a million bucks at the 13-mile mark at Riverside Park)
The last two miles were a little painful. I think, and I say I think because it's a bit of a blur, we took three more, maybe four walk breaks before reaching that imaginary finish line. A dirty crack in a road never looked so appealing in my whole life! I collapsed on it!
Some of you northerners might make snow angels. Down here in Hades, after running 15 miles, I make sweat angels!
In retrospect, it really was a good run no matter how bad I make it sound. I conquered my "allusive" 15-miles without provoking injury and I learned a few things. As I get more and more long runs under my belt I'm learning more and more about my body. I'm learning how important nutrition is not only right before workouts, but weeks before. I'm learning how to listen to my body more and more and recognize symptoms that might be signs of "bad" things starting that I can prevent or head off in advance. I'm also learning about how to better take care of myself in the days spent recovering or leading up to a long run.
I iced my lower legs after the run as a precaution, ate a huge amount of food and took an hour nap. Amazingly, I felt like a million bucks later in the day. My Achilles tendon is fine and despite some expected lower calve soreness it seems like I'm learning to recover better. Hell, we even went scurfing (being towed behind a boat on surfboards) the very next day!
Muddy Buddy + 16-miler