Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Pain, No Glory

Somewhere around Friday afternoon at 3 – at about just the time when I felt my eyes bleeding from staring at an Access database – I took a break to browse the interwebs. I ended up at Runner’s World again and started to poke through a few articles. I found this especially appropriate:

“An hour into my Montana long run, the sun crept over the mountains and a creek snaked out of the woods, its gurgle glorious. I settled into that state, the so-called "runner's high," though that name fails to capture its beauty. What happens to body and mind when you go long is, like all of life's most rewarding treasures, a mystery, and its value is commensurate with its mysteriousness. If I knew exactly why and how a 20-miler worked its magic, I might not treasure it as dearly.” ---From Michcael Parker in “A Long-Distance Running Love-Affair”

Today, I completed my first 10-mile run and understood the concept of "runner's high" more than I did sitting in my office on a Friday afternoon (or ever, for that matter).

It was damn hot in DC again (surprise, surprise), but 10 miles on a treadmill was not happening. After breakfast, I let my often passive-aggressive Wii Fit guide me in a few yoga stretches, and I filled myself with water. By 10 AM, I was out of my apartment. (For the record, I’m kind of impressed that I was able to get out of my apartment at 10. I crawled into bed around 2 AM last night after seeing the last screening of Inception in my neighborhood – SO INCREDIBLE --but I digress…)

Despite the temperature and dripping with sweat before the end of the first mile, I felt great. I wasn’t tired, and I was hydrating whenever I could (I filled a water bottle and carried it with me – the smartest idea I had this morning). I hit a little bit of a wall near mile five, which I suspect happened because that was the point in my run during which I was directly in the sun and/or was in desperate need of a bathroom break. But once I ducked into one of the restrooms on the Mall and splashed water in my face, I was good to go until I hit mile nine.

Put simply, I ached. I was hot. I was tired. My motivating songs played long before I needed them. With every step forward, I was pretty sure that I was just going to give up and stop this silly marathon training altogether.

In the midst of all tat, something else was going on -- something that kept me going. That magical something that "happens when you go long."

A high: A high that made me forget the cramp, the feeling of exhaustion, and the urge to quit. A high that made everything else not related to running irrelevant. A high that made finishing and proving to myself that I could run 10 miles the only two things that mattered in that final push.

And, with that, I finished my run with an average of 10 minutes per mile.

My cool-down walk (the last two blocks to my apartment) took what felt like an eternity. But, I was so proud of myself that I didn’t care. I opened the door, chugged a powerade, and soaked in a tub filled with warm water and bath salts (the second smartest idea that I had this morning). There was celebratory towel time, movie-watching, and the best nap I've had in my life.

- - -

With this run, folks, we’re coming to the end of Week 3. I have three miles to run tomorrow, but after today I imagine such a distance will go very smoothly – unless my body decides that training tomorrow is simply out of the question.

We’ll see, though.

If I have any say in the matter, we’re going running. And, it’s going to be awesome.

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