Sunday, December 29, 2013

Long Run, December 28th: "Bad Dates"

Sometimes runs are just bad. It happens, but it is always discouraging. Whatever it is--low energy, nagging pains, or no motivation, there is always the fear that it's there to stay. Which is almost never true, thankfully, but it always makes me uneasy. When I think about a bad run, I say it in my head the way that guy wearing the fez says "Bad dates" to Indiana Jones after he stops him from eating one and points over to the dead monkey, which has been poisoned by said bad dates. Anyway, my long run on Saturday was scheduled to be 10 miles, and I found myself procrastinating beforehand, finding ways to linger around the house. Not a good sign, and mostly due to the fact that for the past week I've been fighting a nasty head cold. It's clearing up now, but still sapping me of my energy and not making exercise seem particularly appealing. Especially when I could instead snuggle under my new Eagles blanket and read from my complete Jane Austen collection that my mom gave me for Christmas. It didn't help that by the time I finally urged myself out onto the street, I had to immediately turn back for lighter clothes (I guess during all the time it took for me to get my butt out the door, it had actually warmed up into the mid 40s). So by 11:30 or so, I was finally headed out for real in an old Pete's Produce shirt I had found in the bottom of my drawer.

The first issue was that I was an idiot when I mapped out my course, the first mile of which took me down Cheyney road and onto a small segment of Pete's Farm at Westtown. Cheyney road has an icky blind hill right at the bottom of our street, followed by a rather harrowing, shoulder-less straightaway with another blind curve before the hill down to 926. I can't count how many dead animals I've seen on that stretch, so to avoid a similar fate I cut over towards the cemetery. The Old Cheyney Cemetery, nestled at the corner of the historic Squire Cheyney Farm, has some revolutionary-era gravestones and not a lot much newer. As I skirted the stone wall that encloses it, I could see many of Thomas "Squire" Cheyney II's descendants. It was the Squire who informed George Washington during the battle of the Brandywine that the British were in fact attacking from the north, and was then later appointed to the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention to ratify the US Constitution. My list of Cool Historical Figures That Make Their Way Into My Thoughts While I'm Running is ever growing.

Aside from that little juicy historical distraction, everything else pretty much sucked. The process of cutting around the cemetery and following the edge of farm instead of running on the road meant running on sort of lumpy grass and dirt, which immediately aggravated my ankle tendonitis. I slowed it down and weighed the risk of potentially reactivating an injury vs. becoming road pizza. I chose to stay mostly on the grass, but as I crossed 926 and ran up the hill onto Pete's farm, I was regretting my choice. Not that the ankle was killing me, per se, but it is not encouraging to have it begin to hurt during the first mile of a longer-ish run. I decided to cut over into the adjacent neighborhoods to get some flat road under my feet, and at the edge of the farm I found myself stepping over caution tape and a bunch of warning signs that the annual deer hunt was in progress in the very area I was leaving. Thanks for putting signs down at the other end...obviously I made it through OK, but I felt a bit creeped out. On the upside, once into the neighborhood I saw a man hitching some horses up to a buggy, and that was pretty rad.

For the next 3 miles or so I gingerly assessed the ankle situation, and to my relief it slowly began to calm down once I was back on flat road. The downhills had to be taken more slowly, but it would seem that no major harm was done. However, as the tendon pain began to ease up, I was increasingly aware of a growing disease in my stomach, particularly after a big push up Old Gradyville Road between miles 5 and 6. I call it the Roller Coaster Road, because it is perfect for letting up on the brakes and barreling down all its curvy steepness. Going up it on foot feels more like trying to run up a ski slope, and it seems that the formula is as follows: extra push up monstrous hill + swallowing a bunch of my own mucus = major nausea. Since I've returned home, I have been following a strict diet of Christmas "bonbons" which likely didn't help. As I plodded forward, hoping that I would feel better soon, I also realized that I had not taken enough care to fully memorize the name of the road I was supposed to turn on at the top. I made my best "educated guess" (wouldn't my elementary school teachers be proud), but the idea that I may be wandering off in the wrong direction when I felt like I was about to chunder everywhere was starting to make me nervous. At the intersection right at mile 7, I stopped a man wearing cool shades to ask for directions, and I am glad I did.

The next 3 miles were painful, to say the least. Lots and lots of downhill into the creek bed, with my stomach sloshing away with each step. My progress slowed to a pretty sluggish pace, and the sight and smell of a squashed fox almost put me over the edge. Moments after I regained my composure, a majestic deer bounded out in front of me, all elegance and beauty, plus a gaping wound on its underbelly with its body parts hanging down underneath and flopping around like a red towel. I don't know if it had been shot, or maybe had just caught itself on something sharp...either way it wasn't pretty, and at this point it was clear that the animal omens were out to get me. The final two miles were incredibly unpleasant and I had to stop multiple times. By the time I actually arrived back at the house, I was reduced to laying on the couch for the rest of the afternoon while my stomach slowly regained its confidence. Let's hope that next week goes a little better...

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