Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Worst Run Ever

Sometimes running can be really terrible. We've all been there -- a run that starts bad and gets worse. And worse. And worse. If you're anything like me, such a run makes you question your fitness and training and existence, leading you to regret taking up this insane sport in the first place.

Luckily the truly terrible runs are relatively rare. Unluckily I experienced one recently.

Pause: It sounds like we're going down a deep dark path of intense misery and self-pity...and I'll be honest, we are (briefly). BUT happily this blog has a happy ending. Because though one bad run may feel like the end of all things good, it's not! It's just a bad day! And a week later you can have an awesome run and feel amazing!

So with that happy ending guaranteed, we return to the story.

I was in DC last weekend for school and work. On Saturday I had a brunch reservation for 10:45 at Zengo (aka the morning is time-bound...this fact becomes relevant later), so of course I met SpeedyKate for a long run beforehand.

I was so psyched to be somewhere not under 4 feet of snow! With sidewalks! That I could see! And a balmy temp above zero! As I mentioned in previous posts, I've been having a hard time getting my long runs in (because Boston), so this DC venture seemed like a necessary moment for a 16-miler (because marathon).

I woke up tired that morning, not really feeling like running, but that's never stopped me before. Not questioning my predetermined fate, I pulled on my tights and went out to meet SpeedyKate. We ran down into Rock Creek Park with the plan of surviving running roadside (the bike path was completely caked in ice) until we got to Beach Drive, which is closed to cars on weekends.
I frequently start a run feeling tired, but then as I warm up and get in a rhythm it gets better. I wanted that to be the case on this run. We hit the 4-mile mark and all I wanted to do was turn back, but I thought maybe it would get better. We passed 6-miles and still I felt the same. We got to the end of the road (about 7.5 miles in) and stopped in a bathroom to briefly warm up and eat some sports beans. At this point all I knew was that had to survive the run back.

Our rapid-fire chatter had slowed to a silent stoic slog (on my part at least). I mentally grasped onto each story SpeedyKate told, secretly telling myself that I could walk when she finished talking, but then when she got to the end, telling myself, no you have to keep going. At about mile 12 I couldn't do it anymore though. Kate, I'm sorry, but we have to walk. This has literally never happened before, but whatever, we're friends, and honestly I was too tired to feel ashamed or care. We walked for maybe 100 meters, then the promise of brunch (and the fact that we had to get back in time to get to brunch) got me going again. I hobbled my way to the end of the run, dodging cars, resisting crying, and HATING running with the most burning of burning passion with every step. Never again, never again, never again I chanted to myself as I ran up the last hill. Which is obviously not even a little bit true, but in the moment felt like the only promise that would get me to the finish.

A very hot shower and 4-hour brunch later (no joke, DC knows how to brunch) I felt like a human again. Turns out I was getting sick and didn't really realize it, which explains at least part of the terribleness of that morning.

Post-run, looking and feeling like humans again.

I took most of the following week easy/off, doing yoga, resting up, and trying to feel like a real person again.

Then, yesterday, I went out for a long run with the Tufts Marathon Team. It was a sunshiny warm(ish) morning and I ran a slow but successful 20 miles. It was great! I felt fine! I'm not out of shape, and may even be in better shape than I thought!  

Post-20-miler happy/tired!

So the moral of this story is that bad runs happen. To beginner runners, experienced super-good runners, and all the people in between. But at the end of the day, even the worst run ever is still a run to be grateful for. And a week (or even a day) after the most terrible of the terrible can be fun and full of energy and restore your faith in yourself and the sport.