Monday, March 17, 2014

Long Run, March 15th: The Ides of Smarch

Thus far, March is living up to its doodoo reputation with a whole lot of indecisive weather nonsense. Couple that with the transition to DST, and my runs over the past week have fallen all over the spectrum of awesome to suck. From waking up once more in the pitch dark and heading out into the low teens to see the sun rise over the city (what is it, early January?) to our hill run on Tuesday evening in 60 degree temps and actual daylight for the first time, the weather has been truly schizophrenic. I know that I tend to write a lot about the weather, but as I only run outside, it's hard to not be slightly obsessed. And now that it is know, there are a lot of people in the world that not only get off on pulling a fast one on you, but are also truly talented at it. While Comcast may have perfected the art, March can sure push the limits of human frustration with a very calculated formula. It'll start off with daily highs consistently 10 degrees below the annual average until we're actually about to lose our shit and believe that spring will never really come. And ONLY then maybe slip in a 50 degree day or two, just so we'll finally turn off our full-spectrum lamps and maybe even start weaning off our Seasonal Affective Disorder medication. And then once that spark of hope is lit, time to really just ham it up with an icy downpour followed by a flash freeze and a snowstorm. Like the perpetuator of any abusive relationship, March knows that we have all been emotionally weakened by January and February, and is so ready to dangle the warm weather bait and toy with our desperation because it knows that no matter how many 0-degree-windchill surprises it throws at us, we'll always come hopefully crawling back. So sick, really perverted. I may have run away with this one a bit, but I am sure any other New Englander will understand.

But anyways, on Friday it was practically in the single digits for my 5-miler and then on Saturday it was sort of Seattle-esque with a chilly drizzle, maybe high 30s to low 40s. Very tough to dress for, especially given the long distance (18 miles) and the tendency for the morning to warm up halfway through. I opted for all the wrong articles of clothing and didn't realize until it was too late, but there you go. When I got to Joint Ventures, I was pumped to see Morgan and company, as well as Katherine. Buddies are essential on the longer runs. Katherine pushed the pace at the beginning, and I was discouraged by how fast a mere 8:30 felt. My legs felt like they were fighting through glue. I chalked it up to the sheer amount of food that I ate the previous night to celebrate Pi Day, but was still struggling to feel comfortable and was therefore not much of a contributor to the conversation. After passing the reservoir by BC, I finally felt body settling into the rhythm with more ease.

When we hit Newton Centre, Morgan suddenly stopped and sadly admitted that his IT band was too aggravated to continue. I truly felt for him as he walked over to the T to ride back. This is the time when everyone's bodies are falling apart to some degree, and it is certainly a matter of playing it smart and calling it quits before more serious damage is done. But it is so discouraging to miss out on the peak runs, which are important for feeling mentally prepared. Katherine and I continued on without him into Waban. It was so damp out that my hands had gotten quite numb, but she was nice enough to lend me her mittens for a while to warm them up. As we neared Washington Street, she stopped to answer a call from her husband. When we started back up, she was instantly struck with intense hip pain, deep in her piriformis. She thought it would wear off after a little while, but as we turned onto Comm Ave she shook her head and fell to a walk. I tried to say encouraging things about how it will certainly feel better with a few days rest, but I could tell how upset she was. Overuse injuries are such monsters, both physically and mentally. I felt heavy as I continued on without her, also not particularly stoked on the idea of doing the remaining 9 miles alone.

With my companions dropping like flies, I assessed my own injury situation. Recently, my left ankle has finally decided to join in on the fun with its own posterior tibial tendonitis, and the downhills are always when it springs up. Both sides were beginning to ache, but not in a super debilitating way, so I decided to maintain pace. Thankfully, after the first hill I saw a chain of people that I recognized--Natalie, Katy, and Helene from my Samaritans team. They had headed out a bit earlier and were going slightly slower, but I was so happy to have company that I decided to continue with them. The sun had come out, and we began stripping our layers. At the base of Heartbreak Hill we decided to finally take a picture with the pump-up gorilla that always hangs out at the corner by the Heartbreak Hill Athletic Company.

As we passed BC and headed back onto Beacon Street, they had the idea of passing through Kenmore to the actual finish in Copley. Katy and I had talked previously about how we have become accustomed to pushing it out over Mt. Kenmore to finish right there in the square, and how it may be psychologically challenging on race day to continue for another mile. My energy levels were finally up and I was into the idea, but I was worried about my ankles--by Coolidge Corner, with each step it felt like the pavement was coming up to bash the underside of my foot. Everything ached. Still, I had John Hancock in eyesight and I wanted to take it in to Copley Square. So at Kenmore I said farewell to the group so I could finish at my own pace, and as soon as I bumped it back up to my normal speed my feet felt infinitely better. Going slower must somehow fatigue them in a way that my intrinsic muscles aren't quite as used to.

Right on Hereford, left on Boylston, and next thing I knew I could see the Public Library. I have run down Boylston Street so many times, but never with 19 miles behind me. As I finally reached the faded blue and yellow finish line that spans Boylston Street, I stood there waiting for the others and tried to imagine what it will feel like to stand here again in five weeks. I honestly have no idea. But for that moment, at least, I felt pretty awesome.

I cheered the others in, and we took our time walking back to Kenmore, grabbing coffee and water on the way. I think walking it out was actually very good to ward off stiffness later on, although I was still all chafed up in the usual spots. I took Sunday off to rest and sleep in, and felt great this morning on my run to Davis and back. However, I may have skimped on the stretching too much on Saturday because when pushing off extra hard to clear a curb, I felt a muscle deep in my right butt suddenly pull. I am sure the bitter cold was also a factor. Luckily I was only two blocks from home, and it didn't actually slow me down. But walking to work later on I found myself doing this weird Long John Silver peg leg gait, and it is hurting even when I sit. Hmm. I am hoping that a non-overuse type injury such as this will resolve itself within a week or so, but it is worrisome. I am learning more and more that the real challenge of this is not getting your endurance up--it is keeping injuries away. Way less fun.

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