Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

18 Not So Easy

I suppose it was a bit flippant to go into this past weekend’s run thinking it would be easy. Sure, it was 18 miles. And yeah, that was a big number at one time. But this was our third time running 18 miles. And this run didn’t have a scary-sounding name like “Run from Hell”.

It probably was a little beyond flippant to go to happy hour with K the night before and polish off two glasses of wine a piece. It may have been downright irresponsible to then procure a bottle of Martini & Rossi sparkling wine, but at the time we actually felt quite responsible because hey, it wasn’t Andre. (Not that we wouldn’t have bought the Andre in a pinch.)

So basically, I was destined to start this run tired and hungover.

I think some higher power must have taken pity on me (or decided to reward me for providing Him/Her with an entertaining evening), because I was miraculously not very hungover when my alarm went off at 4:30 Saturday morning. I was, however, extremely confused by all the racket.

Unfortunately, 4:30 am turned out to be the high point of the morning. At 5:30, when the actual run started, it was already hot (80 degrees) and humid, and I had a distinctly sinking feeling as it occurred to me that in August in Texas, 5:30 am is the coolest part of the day.

Still, things went okay for the first 6 miles or so. Those were the miles we ran in the dark, and therefore the ones that I tend to forget happen. I’ve come to suspect that I may be perfecting a talent for sleeping and running simultaneously.

After 6, the sun was up, but I tried to rally myself by thinking I was “just out for an easy 12-miler”. And that strategy worked until about mile 12. Miles 10 and 11 had been a lot of gradual uphill, and our usual conversation had tanked as both the sun and the road continued to rise. (Ooh, that was kind of poetic!)

Miles 12 to 14 were just a 2-mile loop back to the same water stop, and that loop was where I really started to think I was in trouble. For one thing, I still had Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecilia stuck in my head. I say “still” because it’s been there since at least last Friday, when I mentioned it in a previous post.

I’ve read in various fitness magazines that listening to songs with high BPMs (beats per minute) can improve your speed and endurance, but what are you supposed to do when the song that’s playing on an endless loop in your head has all the excitement of Amazing Grace??

By 13.5, there was no more Cecilia, there was just heat. Though I had been carefully hydrating and eating GUs (without looking at them so as not to puke), I began to feel extremely light-headed. For the first time in recent memory, the thought occurred to me that I might not be able to finish this run.

Of course I’ve never been good at quitting, so for me “not finishing” would inevitably mean passing out. I started to wonder what J would do if I just passed out there on the street in north Hyde Park. Would she freak out? There’d be no reason for her to. Obviously, I’d be fine. She should probably keep running. Then again, who would keep running if their running buddy just splatted on the road next to them? Yeah, I decided, she’d probably freak out.

By the time that mental exercise was over, we had made it back to the water stop. I took another GU (Chocolate Outrage — honestly, who comes up with these names?) and made the bold suggestion that we walk for a bit. Lucky for my center of gravity, J agreed.

Things got a bit better after our walk break, and I do always love runs that finish coming back toward downtown from the north, because that means they finish running downhill. The only real snag we ran into was an abnormally high amount of traffic on I35, which you have to cross right at the end of the run. (As we would discover when we tried to go to breakfast, it was move-in weekend at UT. According to Wikipedia, we’re hovering around 51,000 students these days. Hook ’em. And for God’s sake, get your freaking UHaul out of the middle of the one-way street!)

I suppose I should wrap up by saying I learned something from this run. Perhaps that I need to respect the distance. Or that I shouldn’t drink a bottle of sparkling wine the night before a run. I think what I really learned — and yes, it took me this long — is how much I need to respect the heat. Every summer, Jeff Galloway writes an article for Runner’s World where he says that if the temperature goes over 85 F, you might as well just bag your run for another day. (Seriously, Jeff, where are you training?) Obviously that’s not an option, but I will at least (grudgingly) show Mother Nature a tad more respect.

One comment on “18 Not So Easy

  1. Jeanine
    August 17, 2010

    Respect the distance! I love the saying and use it often! I too wonder where Jeff trains – he must live in Alaska where it is never over 80 or 85 at any point in the year. Bastard.

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2010 by in heat, long runs.
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