To cut right to the chase, Saturday’s 12-miler was all that you could hope a 12-miler might be, which is 12 miles long and full of opportunities for growth.
Given that spring is finally here—I love you spring!—my sinus cavities were visited by the pollen fairy the night before my big run. Antihistamines are not a performance enhancing drug, by the way. But it was nice to be able to breathe through both nostrils, more or less, even if my brain felt like it was full of cotton.
I plotted a course that had the potential to be 13 miles if I was feeling extra zippy. And while plotting said course, I took great care to avoid having to run up a hill that scares me. In doing so, I wound up putting myself on a hill that was exponentially steeper and longer. I offer this up as a lesson. Just run the dang hill that scares you. All of your maneuvering will only make it worse.
Sadly, said hill coincided with mile 7 and triggered one of those long trudges of the soul. I had doubts, reader. Serious ones about the idea of running 13 miles when I felt so lousy after a mere 7. Everything hurt. My nose started running again. I’d been running straight uphill for hours and was hot and tired and over it.
I did what one does, which is put my head down and keep moving forward. By the time I slurped down a Gu at mile 8, I was past the worst of my bleak mood. I was also mighty thankful that I’d used a bandana as a headband that morning because it gave me something else to wipe my nose on. You probably don’t want to know if I put it back on my head.
I’m not really complaining about the allergies. In a week or so, they will be done and I’ll have to find something else to grouse about. After this winter I am just so happy that things are greening up that I don’t mind the sneezing so much.
In addition to building mental toughness, this run led me to this little guy, who nearly got himself stepped on by a sniffly mother runner. I’m told by a salamander specialist, who teaches at one of the local colleges, that it’s an “Eastern Red Newt in its eft stage.”
And you thought this column would only be about running.
This is the week when all of the newts and peeper frogs wake up, it seems. On previous long runs, I’d only seen lots and lots of deer, a bunny or two, cats, dogs, and turkeys, who are much bigger when you’re only a foot or two from them. Given that this is a college town, I frequently see undergrads who are doing the walk of shame. But newts are new.
There are crocuses, too. CROCUSES! We may all live to see summer again. Lest you think this is about to turn into Nature Watch with Adrienne, just know that my enthusiasm only stems from how bloomin’ excited I am to see something other than snow, slush, snail, and ice. If nothing else, this training has forced me to interact with the weather more as well as pay more attention to what the seasons actually look like.
It’s also forced me to realize that I can run 13 miles, even though I haven’t yet his that magical mileage number on Herr Garmin. My body certainly feels like it’s ready -- and will be even more ready after the next couple of weeks of tapering. One more mile feels physically do-able, which isn’t something I ever thought I’d say. My brain is mostly on-board, too, despite the occasional dark moments where I want to simply want to sit down and maybe have a nice mocha. The trick will be maintaining this belief in my own abilities between now and May 4. How do you all manage the taper without being convinced that you are losing all of your fitness and that all of the miles you’ve already put in are nothing but a mirage?
In other news, I’ve ordered a SparkleTech skirt and will try it out on this week’s (only!) 8-mile run. Is it wrong that I’m already planning what I’ll be able to do during the rest of Saturday, given that I might have some energy to do something crazy like vacuum? These taper weeks, if nothing else, will give me the gift of a few more hours in the week. My hope is that I won’t spend all of those new hours worrying about the race to come.
How do you deal with the taper week(s)? Is your house extra clean—or your energy unharnessable?