When I woke up this morning, my first thought was whether I should attempt to join Anna and Erin on our scheduled 3 hour 40 minute run. After all we have been through in the past two weeks and with my cold still lingering, I was highly skeptical it was the best thing for me to do.
All of the literature I have read about exercising when you are sick says you can continue as long as the sickness is in your neck or above. I sort of doubt that the author’s of said literature had workouts lasting more than two hours in mind when they were writing.
Since I wasn’t sure that my tired being could make it on such a long run, I agreed to run the first two hours and then planned to head back to our house. We came up with two tentative routes we were not sure of the distance nor time it would take but we knew neither was too long and we could always add on to the end. We would choose the route based on the weather, trying to avoid muddy trails if it was raining.
We had Andy and Belén drive us to the top of 8th Street so we could start on the downhill, emulating the massive amounts of downhill on the Skyline to Sea 50K race we are training for.
Once at the bottom of 8th Street, we decided to go with the route we had determined in the hills since it was only a light drizzle and we thought the trails would be okay to run on.
That was then. We didn’t really take into account how long we would be running for and the potential for the weather to change. And change it did. Once we left the comfort of the protection of the hills around us and were running on our first ridge, we were immediately PELTED by the rain. I was glad I had worn my raincoat, but wished I had worn full length running tights, a warmer hat and gloves. Brrrr, it was so COLD.
That stage of the run reminded me of one of those long marches you see on TV that usually involve communism or totalitarianism where the oppressed people looking very unhappy, begrudgingly push themselves along the road with their heads down and faces stern. We continued to put one foot in front of another as the rain and wind did its darnedest to prevent forward motion. We agreed each mile run in these conditions should count as two.
I completely turned my head away from the wind and covered the right side of my face with my raincoat and tucked my fingers up into shirt sleeve to harness any amount of warmth I could given the circumstances. Erin and I without hearing one another, in a five second window, both said out loud, “This is bullshit.”
I took some time to ponder the nature of long distance, endurance running. It is about so much more than the physical motion of putting one foot in front of another for an extended period of time. It is the prep, what do I wear? It is the nutrition, what do I eat and when do I eat it? It is the mental, how can I convince myself to keep going when it is against everything I want to do? What do I think about for that long? And of course, how do I will my legs to keep going when they hurt? Of course the physical aspect is a big part too, but I will contend on any day of the week that it is so much more mental than physical!
We knew once we arrived at the Fat Tire Traverse Trail we would once again be sheltered from the wind, so we drudged on until after what seemed like hours and probably literally was an hour, we arrived at the intermediary between two ridges.
The new trail was muddy so we continued to take it slow, but it was so incredibly nice to be less exposed to the elements. Eventually, the terrain became more sandy and life was good!
Around that point, the run started to improve and when I looked at my watch and realized we had been out for 2.5 hours, I knew that I wasn’t going to cut the run short…both because it was not physically possible since we were still in the middle of nowhere and also because I did not feel as tired as I was expecting.
The rest of the run was without consequence. My watch stopped midway but based on the time, we were out almost exactly 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Back at our house, I made waffles, scrambled eggs and Andy made a protein shake for us and we all stuffed ourselves, trying to replenish the more than 2500 extra calories we had burned.
As my nose still runs and throat is a bit sore, I still wonder if I should have accepted this morning’s journey. If nothing else, I am a stronger person for it and we are merely three long runs (4 hours, 4:20, 4:40) away from our 50K training from being complete.