It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment. **Marcus Tullius Cicero**
I almost didn’t do my 10 mile long run. This week has been crazy and I haven’t been feeling well. I realized Friday morning that I had forgotten to give myself my Humira shot on Tuesday, so I was three days late with my medication, which explained why I didn’t feel good. I have also been having stomach issues from the very strong anti-inflammatories I take. Consequently, I haven’t been able to take them for over a week, and it has lead to some RA flaring, but mostly in my shoulders and wrists. I considered waiting to run until Sunday to give the Humira another day to kick in, but the forecast for Sunday was rain and with vacation coming up, I didn’t need to make myself sick to boot. On Friday I talked to my fast-fading running partner. She has strep throat and is on antibiotics, so no running this weekend, but she promises she will be back in the gym and catching up to me while I’m out of town.
I took my run really slow, keeping my heart rate below 65%. I figured if I wasn’t really up to running, my heart rate would let me know. It was definitely not my best run. I felt like lead the first 3 miles, then once I was warmed up, I felt like warm lead. To say I hurt all over would be a bit dramatic, I wasn’t in pain like an injury coming on, but every muscle in my body was rebelling. I felt too tired to run, but my heart rate was low and stayed low so I knew it was all in my head. By 7.5 miles I felt like I mentally couldn’t take another step, it just wasn’t in me, but for some reason I kept going. By this time I was pretty much numb, really fighting with my head to keep going. The street seemed to go on forever, each curve in the road seeming unfamiliar, like I had 100 miles more to get home. At 8 miles I finished off the last sip of my water and wished I had brought more. Apparently I hadn’t hydrated as well as I thought and I was still 2 miles from home. Fortunately, the Cliff Shot I brought had taken care of my rumbling tummy at the 5 mile mark, so I wasn’t hungry anymore, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth that lasted the rest of the run (so much for Mango flavor). By 9 miles my shoulders were killing me. Normally I have pretty pathetic posture. I slouch and don’t stand up straight, but when I run I hold my shoulders back and pump my arms front to back. I thought I was relaxing my shoulders enough, but apparently I was tensing them harder than I thought. I did some shoulder rolls and arm circles, which helped a little, and probably looked pretty odd to passing cars, and then just gave up and kept putting one foot in front of the other.
The last mile was the toughest I’ve ever run. My heart rate was still 65%, my pace was the same plodding 13.5 mpm, but each step seemed to take an eternity. I tried not to watch my Garmin too closely, telling myself not to look until the next mail box, corner, car, whatever land mark seemed far enough away to make me wait a bit longer. I gave up on that too and it is a wonder I didn’t fall flat on my face as I watched my Garmin make its slow count down, 9.97…9.98…9.99….10 miles!!!!! When I stopped running, my legs felt like jelly, but I kept walking around in front of my house to let my heart rate come down slowly. I actually think I could have kept going. I had felt the same for the last 7 miles; a few more probably wouldn’t have been much different. When I got inside, I left a trail of stripped-off accessories, gloves, hat, MP3, empty bottle, all the way to the kitchen where I immediately drank 3 tall glasses of water and a short glass of orange juice.
I did my stretches, still peeling off layers of clothing, and took off my shoes before padding to the kitchen to eat the best tasting bowl of Grape Nuts ever. I felt kind of strange. I was tired, but I’ve been much more exhausted after tempo runs or intervals. I wasn’t sore, but I kind of tingled all over like I had been electrified by the run.
I should have been asleep before my head hit the pillow, but although my body was spent, my mind was running 100 miles an hour. After finally falling asleep some time past midnight, I woke up feeling tired, but not sore or any the worse for wear. I hadn’t over done it, hurt myself, pushed too hard, or overstepped my physical bounds.
I simply did what I never really thought I would, and I think that was the problem. I seem to be a master of mental self-sabotage and I think it was just the idea of running 10 miles that nearly beat me. Doubt was whispering in my ear, buzzing like a droning mosquito in the repressive heat of summer that you can’t find to kill, and you can’t ignore. I really don’t know how I got past it; maybe I’m just bull headed, but I kept running. Not fast, but I ran, and ran, and ran, and now I’ve banished the mosquito for the moment and set my mental bar to a new height. Next challenge: The Nolan Trail X 2.