There. I said it.
I look back fondly on the time a couple years ago when I, oh-so-briefly, enjoyed running. I almost wouldn’t believe it ever happened but if I look back in my old Facebook statuses I know it did. I’ve hated running again for quite a while now. And on today’s long run, which was half the length of the OP-50, I was so miserable that I cannot imagine how I will possibly get through a run that is twice that long. It’s like even if the weather is perfect and I have great music on and I’m running somewhere I really like with great people, none of that good stuff is loud enough to drown out the voice in my head saying, “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.” I DO hate it! I would rather be napping, reading, writing, hiking, taking long walks with the dogs – hell, I’d rather be pulling weeds, cleaning the house, going to the dentist, doing just about anything rather than running! I do this to lose weight and to impress people, and to remind myself always that you can't quit just because something sucks, which is a valuable and ongoing life lesson. Those are totally valid reasons but still, is it REALLY a good idea to spend so many hours doing something I hate?
For today's run, I was supposed to run 24 miles. (Actually, I was supposed to run 24 miles yesterday, and 12 today, but I have ALMOST decided that I'm going to cut the second longish run from the weekend schedule. I haven't run 60-mile weeks in years, and I don't think my body can take it without breaking down. But I do know I can't skip the long run, not ever.) I had two errands to run: I had to drop off a DVD at Casa Video, and I had to stop at the Hermitage, the no-kill cat shelter I'm going to foster for, and look at my next foster kitten. He just had an eye removed and they wanted to make sure that wasn't going to freak me out. So I decided to run to both of those places and then see whether I wanted to keep running east and bus back afterwards, or just turn around and run back.
This was a beautiful day for running -- not quite 60 degrees and breezy -- but I was tired and cranky by Mile 2. Great, so this was going to be one of THOSE runs. (A normal run for me.) I decided I was going to A) not care about pace (i.e., pretend this was a real trail race), and B) walk 1/10th of a mile at each new mile. I know this is pathetic but compared to the alternative of quitting and blowing off the run entirely it didn't seem that bad. So that's what I did. I was only doing 10:00 pace but that is a lot faster than what I've been doing on the trails so I didn't care about that either. My blisters reopened and my Achilles was twinging pretty good -- enough for me to actually scream, "Owwww!" and start walking a couple times -- but my fears of stress fractures and shin splints are, so far, unmerited.
I forgot where Casa Video was, which was moronic of me. I thought it was east of Country Club on Speedway, so I took Country Club to Speedway and turned east. When I got to Alvernon I remembered that Casa Video was actually west of Country Club, not east. This automatically changed my run into an out-and-back. Oh well. I actually didn't have a terrible run up Speedway to Craycroft and then down Craycroft to 22nd, which is where the Hermitage is. I think I still prefer road running to trails. I'm sorry, TTR people. It's just so much faster, plus there's always the chance I will see someone I know, plus I don't have to carry my own fluids, plus, big plus, I am always on a bus line. So if I decide to quit I always have a guaranteed ride home. Try doing that 10 miles out on the Bear Canyon Loop, ha ha.
At the Hermitage I saw something new -- a cat shelter that didn't reek of cat piss. I couldn't believe it. I would have bet my life savings that no such thing existed. Good thing I didn't make that bet. There are hundreds of cats there and I do not know how they have accomplished that miracle of making it completely stink-free. I met my new foster, who just had his eye removed yesterday because of kitty herpes. (No, it's not contagious to people, no one needs to worry, ha ha.) He is 12 weeks old, grey and white, adorable. I can't wait to have him in my house. Pookie, hopefully when you see that I'm fostering a kitten with only one eye and kitty herpes you will forgive me for buying my Aussies from breeders...
After I saw the kitten, I headed back down west on 22nd and somehow managed to have a headwind the entire way home, whether I was running north or south or west. I worked my way up to Speedway and Casa Video before my run really fell into the toilet and stayed there. My walk breaks got longer and I started having that air-swallowing problem that happens when I don't bring a spit rag. (Runners are gross -- I apologize to all non-runner readers.) I have a problem when I'm running. If I swallow too much spit or -- sorry again -- nasal drainage -- I have an anatomical quirk that makes it really hard, almost impossible, to burp. At least not standing up. If I lie on my back I can burp. But that's not something I want to do during a marathon. Spitting is also a bad idea, because turning my head and spitting takes too much energy. (Readers, please note and admire my refusal to make a joke about spitting vs. swallowing, despite the obvious temptation.) My remedy is to bring a "spit rag", something I can discreetly drool into. In some races where I forget the spit rag, I use my shirt as a spit rag, but I didn't want to do that today, because the headwind was too cold and a wet shirt would make it even colder. So I got "the problem". Any nausea I have in a race is ALWAYS due to this problem (well, except in Boston where it was due to low electrolytes). It's hard to run feeling like a shaken-up soda can. Predictably, I got slower and slower and more and more cranky. Even so, up till Mile 18 I was still going exactly the same pace, 10:00.
I had worked it out so that I would hit 24 miles exactly at Silverlake and the frontage road, where I could then catch the bus to my house. It comes once an hour on weekends. I hadn't checked the bus schedule, so this was largely my fault, but as I stumble-ran on deadwood legs up to Silverlake, I saw the bus flash by and keep going. Oh, damn. Now this was dispiriting. My 24 miles had taken me 4:05 and now I was faced with the prospect of an hour's wait at the bus stop, sitting all sweaty in the cold wind wearing a T-shirt and shorts, plus a 10-minute ride to my stop, plus a quarter-mile walk from the bus stop to my house. It was exactly 2.2 miles from the bus stop to my house so even if I crawled on hands and knees to my house I would still be home half an hour before the bus would get me home. Plus the serendipity of it being exactly marathon-length convinced me this was the right thing to do.
Well, I didn't crawl on hands and knees but I might as well have. Those last 2.2 miles took me 25 minutes. Pathetic, but who cares? My end time was 4:30. I've run marathons slower than that but not many. I don't know whether the problem is the Christmas fat, the increased mileage, the slowing effect of too much trail running, or just my crappy attitude toward running, but whatever it is, it's pretty discouraging. And I know there's no escape from all this running until the OP-50 is over. I'm planning to run the El Paso Marathon February 5th -- and if anyone else would like to run it with me, please let me know! -- so I guess it's nice to know I can run a marathon, albeit slowly and painfully. This run really doesn't make me look forward to the next 2 months of training. Is it too soon to start looking forward to tapering?