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Sep 09

Warming Up. And Melting Down. Or Richmond Week 11.

river sceneI usually try to post positive things about my running. But today sucked. And it sucked hard.

I’m in Pennsylvania this weekend for a wedding. I was supposed to run an easy 6 today and a hard 16 tomorrow, but since tomorrow is a travel day, I swapped. This isn’t the first time, and it should have been fine. I can’t tell you why it wasn’t.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I can tell you that I haven’t been sleeping all that well since school has started back. Part of this is the readjustment of routine. Part of this is stress from other things going on. Part of it this week was travel. In addition, my nutrition was off yesterday (see: travel). Part of it was that I’m in a place I don’t know, and I was a bit keyed up about where I would go to run 16 miles.

I found a route: a really nice paved trail that is actually really close to my hotel, but for some reason, Goggle decided I should go the long way, and by long way, I mean that instead of jumping on the trail a couple blocks from the hotel, it took me two miles away to the far end parking area. Even though I was on foot. Whatever, I had extra miles to burn, so I don’t really mind this part. But those two miles sucked. I felt terrible. My brain felt foggy. My skin felt clammy, and I was sweating a lot though it wasn’t warm out. I felt dizzy, and that sometimes happens early on, but it usually passes quickly. It didn’t pass quickly this time. By the time I got to the parking lot, I was a mess, both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t concentrate on my audiobook; I couldn’t stop sweating, and I started to panic. I found a place to sit down, and I turned off my watch. I thought about texting one of my running friends, but I couldn’t figure out what to even say. Something was clearly wrong with me, but I couldn’t begin to describe what it was. And did I mention that I was two miles away from my hotel at this point?

Running is usually the thing that makes me feel better. And this morning, when it was suddenly a thing that was making me feel worse, I freaked out. It was obviously that the hard 16 wasn’t going to happen this morning. So I had a decision to make: do I call it and walk back to the hotel? Or do I try to salvage something of the morning?

I decided to try to salvage the morning. I told myself that if I still felt terrible after a mile, I could stop. I took a gel, found a playlist, and collected myself with several deep breaths. I tried to be appreciative of the cool temperatures. I tried to appreciate the sunshine. I tried to feel gratitude for the fact that I could be out there on that trail on this day with nothing more to worry about than a dizzy spell. I thought about my friends who are dealing with more serious issues. I thought about what some of my running heroes might do. I remembered a recent post by Devon Yanko, who described a similar moment in a recent race, and though to myself, I guess this is my version of a plot twist. I found that if I kept going the trail opened up to a lovely view of the Susquehanna river, and that there was a loop of about 4 miles that I could do. I decided to try to run that loop three times. I stopped to take a few pictures along the way. But most of them had my finger in them (see below), and I had no idea until a few minutes ago.

greenery with finger

I did those three loops, and I made it back to my hotel where I crumpled into a mess on the floor of my hotel room. I took a really long hot shower and took full advantage of the shower beer. I still don’t feel great, but I feel somewhat better. My left IT band hates me, but I can deal with that.

I’m trying not to be to hard on myself for not getting the hard workout done. The workout that I did was its own kind of hard. I’m profoundly grateful for the three women who I saw this morning on the path and who smiled and waved at me. I doubt they could see how much I was struggling inside, but those small gestures were huge to me

I’m taking a few days off. Part of this is travel and the coming high wind advisory. But most of it is because there’s clearly something wrong. My hip is tight and sore. This discomfort isn’t terrible, but it’s also not nothing and has been progressing over the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to be smart and tell myself that a few days off now is better than more later. This would be much easier if I were giving advice to someone else. I give great advice to other people when they’re in these situations. But I’m going to rest for a couple of days, let things blow over both literally and figuratively, and I’ll see where I am on Thursday.

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