Dry Martini: grumpy and grimy and gross

About the best thing I can say about Sunday’s 14 mile run is that I had the good sense to hide a frozen bottle of water at the midway point. That was a genius move, past me. The rest? Not so much.

Let’s focus on what worked. That mostly thawed but still delightfully chilled H2O gave me the will to slog on through 100 percent humidity (not hyperbole) and intermittent visits from Voldesun. It wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t happy about it. I nearly punched a dude who kept lapping me on the high school track, which is where I did my last few miles. He did absolutely nothing to provoke my ire, save that he was all sprightly and energetic and I was all demoralized and mean. I’d like to say that the better angels of my nature held back my fist. Truthfully, I just couldn’t catch him.

Next time I see him — and because this is a small town, odds are pretty good that I will see him — I am going to make sure he knows that I was on mile 12 of a long, long, long run through really challenging circumstances. Any other time I totally could have kept up with him. Or, more realistically, come up with some witty bon mot as he passed me by. We all must play to our strengths.

One of the upsides of getting up super early to beat the heat is that I sometimes get to see the sunrise through dense fog. It's pretty in a way the picture can't capture.

The worst part about Sunday’s run is how completely my coping skills failed me by the end. By mile ten, the voices started up, the ones that remind me that I’m so very slow and carrying too much weight and an idiot for even thinking I could run ten miles, much less 26. 2. And on and on and on.

You know that voice. As one of the mother runners from the Little Rock Retreat said: I wish the voices in my head weren’t such assholes. You’ll never see that quote on one of those inspirational running memes on social media — and not just because of the mild swear. We want all of our runs to be majestic. And, yet, well. Sometimes, they make you want to punch the sprightly young man on the track.

Usually, I can rally some sort of positive thought but after a week’s worth of hot, humid weather and grimy, miserable runs, I just had nothing. All that kept me going was the knowledge that I’d soon hear Herr Garmin the Second beep its 14-mile beep and then I could stop. Oh, stopping. Sometimes I love you most of all.

I did, however, figure something out while I was slogging though my 14-mile existential crisis: I can endure almost anything if I know when it will end.

The planets did align well enough for me to grab a quick nap in the air conditioning after that awful run. My nap buddy was happy.

This is why labor freaked me out so much. No one could tell me exactly how long it would take because, of course, that is not a knowable thing. If I’d known for certain that I would have to get through a 500 on the standard 1 - 10 pain scale for exactly 63 minutes, I could have been one of those laboring women who bite down on a stick and get on with it.

For the record, I was not that woman. With baby number one, after hour eight, I would have been happy to let them put a needle in my eye if it would have eased the pain. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

Also for the record, mad props to those who labored and delivered without pharmaceutical help. Good job, you.

What I realized on my run, though, is that even the most demoralizing slogs have knowable ends and that that is what makes it possible for me to do get through them. Unlike so much in life — from parenting to eldercare to intractable work problems, etc and so on — a marathon will stop 26.2 miles from where you started. Odds are pretty good that I can endure whatever it takes to get there because I know that I won’t have to keep going for some indeterminate or unknowable distance. I’m pretty sure my stubbornness will get me through, even if it isn’t pretty or, frankly, fast. Even if the voices are particularly assholelyish that day. Provided, of course, that my legs stay attached and functional.

Nearly put my eye out while getting my bra on for an easy three. New Saucony gear -- Guide 9s and Camofly Bullet Capris -- soothed the pain.

I’ll take this revelation into this Saturday’s 16-mile long run, which I’m certain I’ll get done. I’m still going to hide my frozen water bottle, even though the weather looks like it’ll be less punishing this weekend.

Have you had any great epiphanies during your runs lately?

11 responses to “Dry Martini: grumpy and grimy and gross

  1. Good stuff to read on the eve of a 20 miler tomorrow. I know approximately how long it will last and how good it will feel to be done!

  2. how about hiding a baggie of ice cubes in a cooler to go along with that water bottle? Seriously. Putting that baggie in your bra will be your next epiphany.

  3. Oh girl. I have had two of the worst runs of my summer in the last week and am staring down the starting line of that 50k in a little more than a week. I feel you. This heat and humidity has to break soon, right?

  4. I could have written this word for word (right down to the distance covered), but I didn’t have the foresight to stash a frozen water bottle. I, too, had 100% humidity and I swear, the clouds parted just over my head so that the sun, which wasn’t shining anywhere else in SE Michigan, could beat down just on me. I went from being worried about bad guys out there to praying for a kidnapping, so long as their car was air-conditioned. But then yay! It began to sprinkle. And then rain. And then downpour until I could barely see and my feet were squishing. But was I going to quit? Aww, hell, no. I was going to see my watch say Mile 14, even if it killed me. Which it very nearly did.

  5. This is so great to read and rea knowledge that we as runners having bad runs are not alone. I had an awful 6 miler yesterday – I walked for at last 1/2 a mile, ran out of water but with 1.5 left I had that same thought you did – I can do 1.5 miles just not well today, and I couldn’t wait to stop. In the end I reminded myself it’s one day and next time will be better. Guess what? This morning’s tempo run after a weight workout so much better. #runhappy

  6. Suggestion- with the frozen water bottle stash a cold wash cloth in a Baggie. It feels so good to wipe the humidity/heat induced sweat off your brow. I put a drop of lavender oil in the cold water I dampen my washcloth with. That way I smell good too. It sure helps make you feel refreshed for the rest of your run. Good luck!!

  7. Yes, I’m thinking about trying my hand at making you, and all of us, a meme. LOL! Probably won’t happen. I’m slowly becoming acclimated to my change in elevation. Humidity is always here, though. I literally come back from runs dripping on the hardwood floor. Not sure if that is a good floor thing or not. But we can do it!

  8. My epiphany came last weekend when I had a good race, despite the hot weather. I think I have become heat acclimated. I am on a similar track, and have 16-17 to do for this weekend. I am blessed to have running partners to keep me company.
    I love your comment on the distance being finite, as so little in life is! I am going to remember that as my training runs get longer.
    Your thoughts on labor made me laugh, b/c those were my thoughts. First, that feeling of not being in control. Second, knowing I could handle the pain at that moment, but how bad would it get? Fortunately, I did not need pain meds as my labor wasn’t unbearably long and my son was on the small side.

  9. Not an epiphany, but the solid realization (for years and years) that spending hours in a preschool classroom every day, with meeting upon meeting after working with over 30 kiddos, is much much harder than any marathon or ironman I have completed over the last 40 years….

  10. No epiphanies, sorry… but I love that BAMR’s quote! If I knew how to make a meme I’d make it for all of us…good luck with your 16 miles on Saturday!

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