Between the rain and my sweat, I was drenched. Then I got that burning-hot-red-face thing going on. I finished up the coconut water in my handheld way too early because I was so hot and had to wait until mile 6 to refill it with water. My legs and hamstrings started cramping up. I lost sight of everyone and had convinced myself that I was miles behind the group. I even thought I missed a turn somewhere in the same neighborhood that we always run through - it felt like I was in there forever (this was miles 6 through 8). I finally saw some familiar landmarks - I was fine, still going the right direction.
I quit a hundred times in my head during those miles. And I knew that when I came out of that neighborhood, I could choose to run straight for another half mile and get back to our meeting place (and, I was convinced, where all of the other runners from the full group were already), or I could turn left and commit to the last 4 miles. Running 8.5 miles was not something to be ashamed of, but this was supposed to be my last long run before I started tapering for the Galveston half. However, I was hot, cramping up, getting dehydrated, miserable - who could blame me for quitting? I went back and forth over the decision, and just as I was coming out of that neighborhood, Tiffani, one of my half buddies, drove by, waving and smiling at me.
I turned left.
And, amazingly, as the road curved, I saw a blue shirt and a white shirt ahead of me - granted, far, far ahead, but still, people! My people!!! I was never so happy to see Darrell and Coach Dale in my life. I had convinced myself that everyone else had finished the run and was resting at our meeting place, so it was huge to see these two guys! I saw them stop at the mile 9 marker to refill their water bottles and noticed them stretching, so when I got there I did the same. At that point, my back and arches had joined my calves and hamstrings in the cramping game. Although I had some GU chomps with me, I obviously needed salt, and had I been carrying any cash, I would have stopped at the Exxon station just before mile 10 and bought some pretzels. Note to self: carry money with you!
I kept moving forward, running from mailbox to mailbox, walking when I needed to (which was often). As if the run wasn't nightmarish enough, I saw the head of (what was) a rather large bird in my path, then a little while later an entire dead bird, then around mile 9, a dead snake - in the gutter right in front of me! And yes, I screamed like a girl, jumped into the road, and startled the driver who was coming toward me...like I needed to see a dang snake at that point! (I later discovered through Googling that it was a candy corn snake - and I still get the heebie-jeebies thinking about it!)
Running and walking, I managed to follow Darrell back to our starting point. I made it in and Coach Dale met me with a cold wash cloth...I covered my face and just started crying. Everything hurt. I was in shock at how hard this had been. I could barely walk - I felt so bad! He put his arm around me and told me I did a great job and that this was really hard for everyone...and that's when I saw my fellow full peeps looking pretty miserable too. Hearing other people say "it took FOREVER to get out of that neighborhood" and listening to both of the fastest runners, Jessica and Ashley (who are in their twenties) say how much their legs were hurting them - well, I'd like to say I didn't feel so bad. I can't - I felt plenty bad - but at least I knew that it wasn't hard just for me - it was hard for everyone. And that somehow made me feel the tiniest bit better.
I went home, had a 25 minute ice bath, drank a protein shake and then took a nap with Paco and Henry. Woke up after an hour and ate some chicken noodle soup - lots of sodium there. Then I foam rolled my legs, had a hot shower and discovered my Chafe of the Week: waistband area. This was one of those things that, as both Coach Erica and Helen say, you don't notice until the warm water hits it. No picture, as the link to the snake was scary enough.
Now, this is where it gets good. I could barely walk on Saturday. My muscles were beyond tight. I did manage to get myself to Red Mango late in the afternoon, but I pretty much spent the rest of the day either sleeping, reading or watching TV. I figured Sunday would be more of the same, but color me surprised when I found that I was moving really well! I have to say that the combination of the ice bath and using the foam roller CORRECTLY really, really made the difference in my recovery. About that foam roller - I've had one for a while, but never was very impressed with it. Serendipitously, Coach Joni demonstrated how to use one before our run on Saturday...gee, ya think she knew we would be needing it? LOL Anyway, as you roll, say, your hamstring on it, when you come to a tight spot, you are supposed to stop and stay there, without moving, for about 20 seconds, or until it "releases" - and I have to say, doing this made a huge difference for me. Sunday afternoon I was actually vacuuming and dusting - shocked me to be doing this, and not just because I'm lazy...my legs actually were ok with that much movement. So score major points for some recovery work that paid off!
Can you believe that we were actually scheduled to do MORE running this week? I know, how crazy! I believe I had 40 minutes on the schedule for Monday...24 minutes is all I did. What can I say - lazy Shelley took over. Tuesday night was speedwork, prefaced by a mile warm up run! More craziness. But it was fun to be with my running club peeps, and the speedwork is different and goes by pretty fast (hey, maybe that's why they call it speedwork!). Tomorrow I have a run with Matt to Starbucks - well, he won't be running to Starbucks, but I will. Jeff promises to meet me there, and I like running TO something sometimes, as opposed to just running around in a big circle.
Thanks for making it through this ridiculously long post - believe it or not, I cut out approximately 75% of the