Today I was one of “those” runners. You know, the ones everyone else who doesn’t run really hates.
The goal was 10 miles — 2 easy, 6 at half marathon goal pace (anywhere from 8:10-8:30), 2 easy. Now I’ve been exhausted lately, probably because of the training I’m doing at work, but I told myself I was coming home and running, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It was gorgeous outside…perfect for a slow, enjoyable pace to start.
My legs were feeling tight and uncooperative, which hasn’t happened in so long I can’t even remember. Fortunately, the perfect song came on as the start of the 3rd mile clicked and it felt good to pick it up. I went with it and tried to base everything off of effort; I refused to check my watch. At this point, I’m at Delaware Park and people are everywhere.
We live in the United States. In the United States, the rules of the road (and everything else along with it that involves traveling) are that you are to stay on the right side – your right side. In the United States, slower traffic keeps right and faster moving traffic passes on the left. The general rule of thumb is if traffic (read: people on sidewalks) is going both directions, you don’t take up the entire width of the sidewalk with your friends, family, or pets. If nothing else, go two at a time so other people can continue on their right side of the sidewalk.
Why is this such a hard concept? Why do people look at me as though I’m doing something wrong by running partially on the hill of grass that’s killing my ankles to avoid running over their 6 children who they aren’t even paying attention to? Why am I having to run into the street because you’re walking your dog directly in the middle of the sidewalk? Nobody should have to — runners, walkers, rollerbladers.
So I got pissed and turned into one of “those” runners. I stopped moving and exerting all my energy dodging people. I stuck to the right side of the sidewalk and when I got the stare (you all know that stare I’m talking about) like, “Why aren’t you moving? Don’t you see me?”, I stared right back. More often than not, I ended up moving last minute but it was enough satisfaction for me just by startling them.
So there. I was a dick today.
Then I decided to check my watch. It was a lot of effort for me today to stay in the low 8’s. I decided to stop after two miles and take an easy mile. I could pick up after that easy mile again. Then I fought myself on that and decided it was giving up, so after those 2 goal pace miles clicked off, I kept going.
Oh hey, debilitating side cramp. You’re forcing me to walk? I guess, but only for a little.
Then instead of being pissed off, I was disappointed. I never walk in the middle of runs. I figured half a mile would be okay, then I could stretch and pick right back up. But I felt pretty fatigued and apparently the park doesn’t have working water fountains like I thought they did. Rather than risk being dehydrated, I decided to head back towards home and cut the run short. Yep, still disappointed.
It hurt to start running after the walk and stretch, a 10 minute mile was the only pace that felt good. After about a half mile, I got a second cramp that forced me to walk. Usually I can fight through, but it was impossible today.
I figured maybe a different route home would perk up the run and give me some kind of renewed energy. Unfortunately, I have this fear of crossing busy streets — particularly this one intersection at Delaware Ave. I chose my direction based on when the light turned green, but the problem is the road is 4-6 lanes at any given time with a divider between. One side has a sidewalk, one does not. Guess which side I picked?
I spent the next mile or so running in the grass (sometimes good!), trying to figure out when I could cross the street and jump the divider. Funny realization though… when you’re running one of the busiest roads from downtown, there really isn’t a good time to ever cross the street without a light during rush hour. Hell, even with a light it’s nearly impossible. Then came the bridge without a sidewalk. Luckily, no cars were coming down my side so I was able to sprint in the street to my makeshift sidewalk of safety… but I learned my lesson on that one.
Pretty much that entire time I just ran upset at myself for picking the wrong side of the street, running on a constant hill which was probably causing a lot of stress on my ankles, and that I couldn’t cross the street. In fact, I was so upset I considered crying about it. Then I was mad because I was still running 10 minute miles and I couldn’t pick up the pace even if I tried. Finally when I got back towards my apartment, a runner let me cross the single lane path before she went and I felt a little better (if you know me, it’s the little things).
I feel like I just need a complete reset. The race really kicked my ass on Saturday (need I remind you all that I hate 5ks?)” I went on drinking on Saturday night, followed by eating whatever I wanted on Sunday, Monday, and the beginning of today (pizza, pizza, pizza, pop, so many pieces of cake, chicken alfredo, bagels, lots of alcohol). After eating relatively clean for the past month, I really noticed how my body negatively reacted to everything. Don’t get me wrong, indulging is great and it was a special occasion this weekend so I definitely wouldn’t have changed a thing, but whew… it catches up to you.
On the bright side of this terrible run, I still ran over 8 miles. That’s something I could never do on a weeknight at this point in my training for the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon. In fact, running 8 miles was practically my longest type of run and never incorporated any speed. I have accomplished a lot in my training and I’m stronger, faster, and better than I was a year ago today.
Everyone has a bad run, even the pros. But I’m still calling this run “Yuck.”