This weather has been quite the shit lately. I mean, honestly, while running, I generally feel as though someone is shoving pudding in my face as I imagine pudding would be difficult to breathe through. It’s thick, it’s weird, it’s oppressive, it’s the perfect metaphor for how I feel while aimlessly running down the street. Every day I awake to new highs in humidity, the other day it was 99% humidity. I didn’t even think that was physically possible. And my favorite is when I hit those strange pockets of hot air that make me feel as though I just exited my run and entered a real life sauna. Worst. Feeling. Ever. To beat the heat, my running partners and I have been getting up with the roosters. Alarm goes off at 4:45 am, sometimes 4:30 am and I genuinely feel like smashing my fist into someone’s face. Then I go and grab some coffee and I feel slightly better about the world but once I begin running, I immediately feel that compulsion to kill someone all over again. I just need someone, anyone to turn down the dial just a bit so that running can once again become, somewhat enjoyable. Because for real the other day, I contemplated throwing myself into oncoming traffic so that I could get out of running the remaining 2 miles. The conversation looked something like this:
“Ok, that is a small vehicle, the kind of vehicle that would do minimal damage I’m guessing, what is that a Ford Focus? Yea, perfect.”
“What are we talking here, like a busted leg, maybe a cracked rib. That’s not so bad, right?!?”
“What the hell are you thinking??? Focus on something positive. Like a nice round donut. A swimming pool filled with vodka. Margaritas the size of your face.”
For the BAA Half Marathon in October, I decided to try and up my game a little bit with an aggressive training plan. Virtually every workout, with the exception of “recovery runs” has intervals built in to it. It also calls for running within specific “zones”, each color denoting a different type of effort. This is uncomfortable for me. I hate speed work, and intervals and anything that is really hard. Typically I prefer to run a shit ton of miles, at whatever pace I feel like each day, show up for the race, have some sort of catastrophic melt down and just assume that everything is going to go my way. But I have grown to admit that perhaps there is a flaw in my system and if I want it badly enough, I just might have to gut it out and work for it. Week one of the training plan has me starting at about 35 miles and I’m assuming it goes up significantly from there into peak weak. I’m intimidated, yes, but I’m also excited to see what this will bring me on race day, if I can stick to it. Last year, I trained with aggressive mileage for this same exact half marathon but I did myself zero percent favors by doing every run at the same pace. I allowed my long runs to be slower when I knew they should be faster. And I assumed the hills here in Maine would translate into a successful race in the hilliest parts of Boston. In short, the BAA Half Marathon last year, chewed me up and spit me up. It was a rough 13.1 miles and truly, I still configure it a miracle that I was able to finish, let alone finish in 2:08 (with an exactly 2 minute bathroom break to boot).
They say that training hard in summer brings fall rewards. For right now, I’m just thrilled I have the company of all my people, because without them I would be screwed. Allison, Meg, & Jan have all ensured that I get my lazy ass up every morning and just get it done. I feel lucky be a part of a group where we can lean on each other and get one another through the hard shit. Running alone has its benefits, yes, but I’m not sure I would do it alone most of these days. I would probably roll over in bed and say, I’ll do it later and then conveniently never get to it. I’ll run alone in the fall, when there is no proverbial pudding being shoved down my throat. I’m sure everyone has these days, these weeks, these stretches, when running is more of a chore than a joy. Last night over dinner Allison asked me: “Why do you keep doing it?” And I said: “Because I know what’s on the other side. This is just a bad patch.” There is no greater truth than that. Running is like a river: it ebbs and it flows. Both ways. Good and bad. Sometimes you can’t live without it and sometimes you don’t know why you do it.
The sun will come out in my running sky any day now.
I just know it.