Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a Tie

Last night, I finally got out for a bike ride again. It's been so unbelievably humid the last few days, which has some people saying "Yay! Summer is finally here!" and me saying "Where's fall already??" Because it took me until after 3am to fall asleep on Sunday night, I've been having trouble motivating myself in any way to get up early to run. Because I'd missed runs all weekend with friends in town, I was feeling very lazy yesterday. So I pushed myself to get on the bike last night and spend an hour cruising around the various dead end streets around my neighborhood. It was certainly humid, but you always get a better breeze on the bike, so it didn't seem nearly as impossible as running would have. And I'm really loving the exhaustion I'm getting in my quads and hamstrings after a long ride. Plus, riding my bike around here always reminds me of why I moved here in the first place - I can take in the hazy sunset over the swampy marshland just across from the bay and smell the salty breeze as it wafts in from the water. At that time of night, the water is my favorite - I would never get in it after watching Shark Week and gaining the knowledge that sharks feed at that time of day, but it's a reflective blue that shimmers in the waning sun, a color that you get no other time of the day. Riding a bike seems to give me the mental relaxation that allows me to take that all in - whenever I'm running, especially in the humidity, I'm mostly thinking of survival, so I don't notice as much. Though when the weather was cooler, I was trying to take the time to soak it all in!

After I got back, slick with sweat, I was ready for a dip in the pool. I changed into my suit, but then got a phone call from an old friend right before I headed out the door. Old friends are certainly more important than the pool, so I'll have to leave that for another night! I think it may have been better that I skipped it anyway, because I might have been less motivated to get up this morning for a run. I was still tired when my alarm went off, but not the sick-tired I've been feeling, so I focused on the endorphins the run would bring, threw on my clothes and headed out the door.

Although it was only about 71 degrees, the humidity was still pretty high (really any humidity is too high for me :)). Despite this, I was determined to get in a good run. I started slow to compensate for the weather and reminded myself of how much I always hate the first mile. I was keeping slightly more than a 10-minute pace for the first mile, which felt slow but obviously wasn't slow enough. I started to get overheated around the 8-minute mark, and told myself I'd do 10-10-10 running with 5 minutes of walking in between each interval. I felt okay around the 10-minute mark, so I changed my mind and wanted to push myself to 15 minutes.

Well, that was silly.

Around 11 minutes, I felt very overheated, so I slowed to a walk for five minutes. I was right by the water at this point, and this time of morning is always beautiful. If you're a morning person. And fishing instead of running. But I digress. There was a slight breeze, but the humidity is so high that it was more about moving around warm air and not cooling me off. I still felt hot, so I decided I'd switch to 10 minutes, 5 walking, 8 minutes, 5 walking, 6 minutes and done. I started up my eight minute interval and pushed myself as much as I could. Around six minutes, I very much wanted to stop, but I'd made a decision, so I kept going. I was very happy to walk for five minutes and was definitely regretting my decision to wear a hat. With short hair, it's tough - I like to wear a hat to keep it out of my face (and avoid crazy runner hair), but heat escapes from your head, so it actually makes me hotter. I'm still working on the balance and basically just waiting for the cooler weather so I can be happy again about running.

After my second five-minute walk, I started to run again and realized that I had turned around too late and was actually going to finish the run pretty far from home. Ugh. By this time, I was so thirsty, I felt like I'd never make it. A police officer passed in his car, and I actually wondered if he might have some water in there and think I looked pathetic enough to stop and give it to me. He didn't. But I wanted to finish my six minutes, so I kept at it, ending up with what I thought was a sharp pebble in the back of my shoe with about 90 seconds left to go. I kept telling myself "You can do anything for 90 seconds," and then the same for 60 and 30 and 15 seconds. Finally, I was done. I wiped at the pebble in my shoe, but it kept bugging me, so I finally sat down to take a look. No pebble, just a nice blister - I guess my sock had slipped down a little! I limped for a few minutes until the pain became manageable and I cooled off a bit. Realizing how far I still had to walk, I got bored quickly and decided I could make it another two minutes. So I pushed myself to run another two minutes, which definitely did me in.

By the time I got home, I was very excited about two things:

1) That I had air conditioning. Which was on.

2) That I had remembered to fill the Brita the night before, so I had a lot of cold, cold water waiting just for me. So. Good. Although really, I kept thinking about Pepsi, which I've been limiting lately. I think it may be just too good for me to actually give up, no matter how bad it is for me. I just have a sweet tooth that won't be denied!

I was also very excited about the post-run shower. Until I got in and remembered how much it hurts to run water over a fresh blister. Good thing I just wear flip flops around the house. The joys of running.

Despite that, I was very satisfied with making myself get up and run today and I'm really feeling the exhaustion in my legs, which have stiffened up nicely. I still wasn't thrilled with having to walk some, but I'm redefining success for this summer as being any running at all in this humidity. Although I felt like the humidity beat me today, someone pointed out that it really was more of a tie, so I'll take that. I'll reassess when the nicer weather arrives in the fall, and I'm very excited to get back to some real running, when the only thing I'm battling is the limitations of my own body. Hopefully tonight I might get in a bike ride or swim, but I might put those off until tomorrow morning. It's still a constant struggle of always being happy and satisfied when I do workout, but still putting it off as much as possible. I'm blaming the weather - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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