Sunday was my first double digit run since the SF marathon. I was nervous as hell for more than a few reasons. It was my first distance increase on the new diet and I was nervous how my body would handle the stress on the new fuel. It was the first double digit run since I started running in a barefoot shoe and if I didn’t make it, my ability to run the LA Marathon in March would be called into question – for fear of going too far too soon on the new tires. Along the same lines, I’ve been nursing a nagging toe injury for a couple weeks that also threatened the bulk of my training schedule. This was also my first run on a time constraint since the SF marathon.
I started later than I wanted to. I had a big breakfast because it was my cheat day (I get one day a week where I can eat anything I want) and it was taking a bit of time to settle. Normally in light of a delay pushing me into running in the afternoon sun I’d push the run to the evening to avoid running in the midday sun, but that was out of the question as that evening was my mom’s birthday and I couldn’t run after because I planned on drinking quite a bit and running after getting half-drunk is never a good idea. For me at least. I have a friend who’s quite talented and prolific at drunken distance running.
I usually hate running on a schedule because my stomach and my brain are rarely on the same or similar schedules. So while my plans say run at 11, my stomach says wait until 3 and will hold me hostage. This time was no different and had I nowhere to be I wouldn’t have forced the workout, but it had to be done. I suppose this is good race experience but that’s a terrible thing to say. Unless I’m a pioneer of Bum Gut acclimatization training, in which case, I’m the king.
As luck would have it, by the time I got down to the start/finish (for this run it would be the San Clemente pier), clouds had at least lightly shrouded the sun so my shadow weakened, not all the way, but enough to make me less concerned about the heat. I took off south – heading for Calafia State Park where I’d turn around and head all the way north to Doheny State Beach and then back to the pier. I call this type of run and out and back with a tail because that’s the way it looks in my head. This is roughly the route I ran http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5212846
The first couple miles went well. No foot pain, no tummy trouble, a little general weakness that comes early in runs, but nothing major and I figured the bagel I had for breakfast and the Gatorade primer drink I had before the run would kick in soon enough so I muscled through it. It was a bit warm, though, so I did consume a lot of water. I figured it would be better to top off early since I knew there wouldn’t be any drinking fountains for the last ¾ of the run. As it turned out, I passed the last drinking fountain thinking there would be one more, and was wrong so I had to make ¼ my hand held work for the next six miles.
I didn’t bring headphones so I had to run without music. This is the longest run I’ve ever done sans music and the boredom would creep in waves but just as it began to get me the scenery would change, or there would be a group of cyclists for me to avoid (yes avoid as they took the liberty of riding three cycles wide on the two-lane pedestrian path, taking up half of my lane forcing me uncomfortably close to the trench plate boundary separating us from vehicle traffic) or a person walking the lonely stretch of road that connects Dana Point and San Clemente for whom I’d get to invent a back story and engage them in what I call Boytosian Dialogues which are essentially imagined trivia contests where I win handily over the always accented stranger ( I understand this may be a symptom of some type of psychosis, and I am ok with that).
The route was exceptionally flat. Packed dirt beach and bike paths for the first four miles and last one mile and asphalt for the rest. The packed dirt was nice on my bum foot, and I was worried about pounding the pavement for so long as my injury seems to be from impact, but I held up just fine as recent corrections I’ve made to my stride are starting to pay off. I kept my strides light and quick and short and tried my damnedest not to push off and leaned forward and went and 7 miles later I got kicked in the side with a golf spike.
I knew the feeling well. It’s a warning pain. It’s essentially a notification that somewhere in my colon there is a timer. I never know how long the timer has on it, but I knew that I was 5 miles from home and the likelihood of there being that much time was 0, so I went into survival mode. My disease is no secret to me, so I plan most of my long runs to have more than one opportunity to use facilities and this was no exception. The bathroom was 20 yards away. Unfortunately in those 20 yards there were also 3 chain link fences, a railroad track and a moat / drainage area, so I had to keep running to find a way to cross them all.
It was only a matter of time. I had to go up a bunch of stairs and then solve the problem of no seat covers, but aside from that, the bathrooms were not terrible. In fact, for a beach bathroom I was impressed at how non-hepatitis-y it looked – though I do have blood tests scheduled, so we’ll all get a shot to see how well my eyes work as disease identifiers.
When I left the bathroom, it was time for my 2nd nutrition bit and this was the best part of my run, because I’ve found my training partner… Nature Valley almond bars. They’re basically candy bars but as soon as I finished it and drank the last slug of water, I caught a second wind and took off. I ran the next two miles 90 seconds per mile faster than I had been averaging throughout the run and was barely winded. I was insanely sore, though so I dialed it back in order to finish strong.
Then I took off my shoes and socks and knee braces and waded into the pacific for a little ice bath while I texted my girlfriend I was ok (I had run a lot slower than I usually do because of the bathroom break and general slow-itude / weakness so I was 20 minutes behind, right at her worry threshold). It was the best ice bath I’ve ever had and totally worth the surfers giving me the hairy eyeball, which was understandable since I was carrying a lot of stuff and a normal person would have left it on the beach but I didn’t feel normal so I brought it with me.