Sunday, September 27, 2009

Have a nice trip; see you in the fall

I had very high hopes for our last long training run before Chicago Marathon. Although our 18 miler was hard because of adverse weather conditions, our 20 miler went great despite the lightning and thunder and rain. Our short 11 miler last week went well. Everything looked promising for our 22 miler on Saturday. My prep went well and I was excited to get to the run.

It started out well. I met Anita and Bree at the Alameda Ferry Terminal parking lot at just after 6:00 am. It would have been just before 6:00 am had I known that Highway 238 was going to be closed. It didn't delay me too much and we got on the road by 6:10. It was dark and since my headlamp had fallen apart the night before I carried a disposable flashlight.

The plan was to run the long way around to the bridge, across then out to Crown Beach, then back to the parking lot the short way for 12-ish total miles. We'd refuel and do one more out-and-back to the beach for the last 10 miles. Done that way we couldn't take shortcuts. There are enough water fountains and bathrooms along the way that even on a hot day we'd be able to hydrate. The weather forecast was back and forth all week; first they said hot, then not, then hot again. Maybe windy but that was expected. Overcast/not overcast. We weren't worried, we'd trained with all of that.

The first part of the run to the bridge went very well. It slowly got lighter out, and warmer. We got to see the beautiful sunrise, made even prettier by the smoggy skies. I felt good until about mile 7 when I started tiring. I ignored it, knowing we had a long way yet to go. My legs were heavy and flat and my breathing started to get sloppy; I didn't know which was causing the other problem. I didn't want to change our 4:1 run:walk until at least after 13 miles so I pushed on, whining just a bit.

We crossed the big bridge and started running across that little wooden bridge that goes under the road. We normally walk that but for some reason didn't. About halfway across I caught my toe on an uneven board and tripped. I tried to catch myself but couldn't. I went down, hard, catching most of my weight on my hands and knees. Ow. I was a bit stunned and instead of popping back up like I normally do (and doesn't it suck that there's a "normally" for my falling) I just stayed there.

Like the wonderful concerned friends they are, Bree and Anita asked if I was ok, if they could help me up, told me to take my time, etc. Like a total cranky bitch I told them to go away. Leave me alone. Go on. I might have yelled a little. They walked off and I peeled myself off the bridge. I knew that I was scraped and bruised and dirty and sore but I didn't want to look. I was wobbly and jittery and very stiff and sore but after I hobbled off the bridge I decided to suck it up and keep running. I told them to go ahead of me, insisted on it, and followed behind them. There were a few tears of pain and self-pity, but I kept running.

Adrenaline kept me going for a short time. I loosened up, started running a bit better. But within that same damn mile I tripped again! I caught my toe on the uneven pavement and literally went flying. I kept my feet moving, tightened my core and somehow managed to remain upright and in motion. After that I just stopped. Stopped dead and told them I was finished. I was done, I quit, no more, the end. I send them off ahead of me and forlornly (and slowly) walked on. A few more tears and a major pity party with myself being the only invited guest. There were close to 2 miles left until I got to my car.

Sure enough I got tired of walking after a while. Cautiously I started a slow jog, intermingled with regular walk breaks. I stayed behind Bree and Anita, not wanting any company. I got back to the parking lot fully intending to quit. I went into the bathroom and washed some of the blood off my knee and some of the dirt off my hands and went to my car.

At that point we had done about 13 miles. I really didn't want to leave it that way but I had very little energy or patience left. Bree suggested doing outs and backs to the bridge a couple of times and again, I didn't want to go and didn't want to socialize any longer. I crabbily told them to set out and I'd follow as much as I could.

Do you have any idea how boring it is to run while not being able to look up from your feet? I was convinced that if I didn't stare at the ground that I'd trip again. I was probably correct in that assumption but I didn't test it. We made it back to the bridges and walked across that time. We refilled our bottles on the far side and turned around to return. We walked the bridge that time too.

I varied but mostly stayed behind them. I went in front when our shadows turned because I couldn't see the ground as well with them in front. We went slower and slower and walked more and more and once again returned to the our cars.

We decided to do one more short out and back to get a couple additional miles. This time there was no pretense of running, we were hardly walking. Strolling, more like. Still, it was hard. My little wounds stung with the breeze, I had blood oozing down my leg, I was bruised and still not breathing well. It was fully sunny, a light breeze and getting warmer by the minute. It was upper 70s by that time.

Finally back to the cars with a total of 19.2 miles. Not too bad for crashing at 10.5 and quitting before 11. All that time on our feet had taken its toll.I was not a happy camper and would have been uncomfortable even if I hadn't taken a tumble. Thank you to both Bree and Anita for putting up with my whining, my falling, my crankiness, my crabbiness, my anger and my self-pity. You guys are great!

Obligatory notice of beauty: it was a clear day, beautiful views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Oakland, the Bay, the Estuary. Beautiful. The birds were out in full force, pelicans fanning their wings in the sun, little whatdoyoucallits splashing around. It's a lovely place to run and we are incredibly fortunate to have places like that so close.

When I got home I decided I'd better take an ice bath. Although I used to take them regularly after long runs, I stopped doing it for some reason (probably because they're damned uncomfortable). But I had too many swollen spots to ice individually so I decided to plop into freezing water. I had ground-in dirt on one knee and palm, dirt all over my arms and legs, swollen knees and palms and a pull in my lower back from catching myself that last time. I'm sure the 20 minutes in the icy water was good for me but I didn't enjoy one minute of it.

A day later and the damage isn't too bad. I don't feel at all like I went 19 miles. My feet don't hurt (and they can hurt after just a few miles). None of the usual aches and pains from a longer run. Both of my palms are bruised (and I must have caught myself on the edge of one of the boards because I have a distinct line). My left knee is bruised and swollen but internally feels ok. My right knee is a mess. It's scratched, scraped, bruised, oozing and bloody. But again that's all on the outside and structurally it's fine. The only non-surface part that really hurts, strangely enough, is my shoulder. I apparently strained a muscle when I fell and caught myself.

The marathon is in 2 weeks. I intend to be fully healed by then. I also intend to stay upright for the entire 26.2 miles. What are the odds?

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