Even with a BFF, This Running Thing Is…Tough!

Courtenay and I exerting less effort at farmer's market the evening before our run

With her in Maryland and me in Oregon, Courtenay and I rarely get to run together. The last time my bestie and I trotted side-by-side was the first few miles of the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Half a year later, and here we are in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, for a gal-pal getaway. Far from 13.1-mile shape, I have to ask to rein in pace and distance due to my healing-but-not-100% foot. Ever-obliging, Court doesn’t mind. “As long as we’re together, that’s all I care about.” My thoughts exactly.

The terrain couldn’t be kinder to my plantar fasciitis-ridden paw: The seaside road is tabletop flat. Court, ever-cute in her Oiselle tank and Moving Comfort shorts, and I set out across a causeway in search of Katherine Hepburn’s former beachfront home. It’s not yet 9 a.m., yet the sun beats down hot on our shoulders. We both immediately comment on the humidity (later we learn it’s 88%). Our conversation quickly shifts to her 6-year-old son’s debut swim meet the day before—he got tapped for the invitational meet after a mere three practices. A far cry from Courtenay and I being the sole students cut from our high school girls’ lacrosse team.

My foot feels pretty dang good, but my lungs are working hard, sucking in muggy air. We’re both Garmin-free, yet I know we are barely running 10-minute miles. Still, my quads, lungs, and head feel like I’m pushing my race-pace. My heart pounds hard beneath the sports bra I had to borrow from Court (a true friend!). I’d said we’d turn around after 15 minutes, but our quest to find the Hepburn estate—and stunning views across sun-drenched salt marshes--keep us going a few more minutes. By the time we spin it at about 18 minutes, my body feels as challenged as it does at about mile 11 of a half-marathon. Goodness, have I really lost so much fitness in six weeks away from the road?

Redwing blackbird: a welcome distraction

Retracing our steps, our sweat flows much faster than our conversation. I point out a red-winged blackbird flitting across the cattails, and Court barely murmurs in reply. A billion years ago (okay, in the mid-1990s), we were running near my old house in Wellesley, Mass., and Court paid me what I took to be a supreme compliment: “I love running with you, Sarah, because you can talk the whole way.” Ack: Two decades later, I’m not sure I can clear that bar.

Rather than admit the exertion (and humidity) is kicking my butt, I recount an anecdote from the final miles of the Ogden Half Marathon, after Dimity had caught up to me. I tell Court that, in Utah, I knew Dimity had planned to run the final mile of the race the fastest, but that I was already running full tilt. I say it would have taken Dimity and me too much breath to admit to each other that we had no more to give, that maintaining was the most we could do. So Dimity and I had just occasionally croaked out, “This is the best I got,” or “Going as fast as I can.” Or my it-seemed-inspired-at-the-time, “I’m already in fifth gear.”

I wrap up my Ogden tale as Courtenay and I hit the midpoint of the causeway; we can just spy our stopping point. Deep breath in, and I muster up my last bit of chatter, saying, “Moral of my story: I’m dying over here.”

At the hotel driveway, I stop my Timex at 35:38, depleted beyond belief. For now, I’m all talk of half-marathons, no action.

12 responses to “Even with a BFF, This Running Thing Is…Tough!

  1. LOVE this Sarah! Was on what should have been an easy 3 mile run the other day and missing my running buddy. Wishing she was there just so we could chat (or not). I was having a hard time, dripping with sweat and knew if she was by my side it would have been so much better. Friends make everything better 🙂

  2. It’s yucky here, too. Even at 5am the humidity is upwards of 90%. Ugh.

    My question is this: is it still a benefit to get out there and slog through the humidity, even if I’m > 1 minute slower per mile than I ought to be running? I had made so much progress over the winter and spring, and the humidity and high temps are really killing my morale.

  3. The humidity is kickin’ my rear, too. I’m just trying to concentrate on my breathing and not quitting! 🙂

  4. This humidity is knocking us all out — returning from the injured list or not! Great job! Sounds like a beautiful run and so lucky to be with such a good friend.

  5. SBS. Can totally relate. Just ran in 84 degree weather, probably 100%, humidity for 2 miles post PF/stress fracture. I thought I was dying for sure. Did I mention I was pushing my 37 lb daughter too. Never. Again. 🙂

    1. Wow, Sisyphus has nothing on you, Laura–you are pushing WAY more than a big ol’ rock!! It’s nice to know I’m not only one sucking it in humidity…

  6. On the bright side, the humidity kicks everyone’s butt, and it wasn’t your PF that held you back!

    How awesome to have a friend to run with. I need to find a running buddy… preferable a slow running buddy….

  7. I just got back from South Florida. I had planned to run a lot while I was down there. I ran 3 times and the humidity nearly killed me. I am used to humidity, but not like that! All of the storefronts were steamed up with condensation rolling down them. Kudos to anyone who lives there and runs!!!! I have slowed down a LOT this summer.

  8. yeah for running with best pals! and at least it wasn’t the PF killing you, right? imagine if you had all that humidity and a hurt hoof? i’m sure you’re still fiddle-like-in-fitness… you just need to get back to the land of reasonable moisture levels.

    (sorry, it’s my rest day so i’m feeling pollyanna-ish in my avoiding-the-heat bliss!)

  9. This seems to be the common theme around the blogesphere right now. Heat+Humidity=MISERY! I was running somewhat easy 9 min miles in the early spring and really proud of myself. Not anymore!

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