Last night my husband decided to take the kids outside to sleep in the camp trailer. He also said he wanted to run long in the morning, so he asked if I wouldn't mind setting my alarm for 5am and going outside to wake him up so he could get ready to go. My plan was to run the 9 mile loop, nice and easy like. He wanted to do 17 or 18, so we were just going to do our runs separately. I set the alarm, got up at 5 (even though I wanted to sleep longer), oh, wait...I did go back to bed. At 5:30, Chris woke me up to tell me that because it was still a little too dark outside, he was going to wait until I woke up for the day and start his run with me. I rolled over, and the next thing I knew, I was startling myself awake at 6:20. I got dressed in my running stuff and went downstairs, but Chris was already gone. Just as I was about to walk out the door, the phone rang. He was calling to tell me where he was on his run, about 4.5 miles out, but that he was on his way back through our town. He wanted me to alter my route slightly so that I would meet up with him and then we could run the rest of the loop together. I went ahead and met up with him, even though it meant an additional mile or so added to my run.
As we started out together, I actually felt okay. We weren't going too fast - about 11 min./miles, but we were both feeling comfortable. Within a couple of miles, my hamstring was on fire and my stomach was cramping. I'm not sure what the deal is with all the GI issues I've been having while running lately. The first year I started running longer distances, I had lots of problems with cramping, but it resolved on it's own over time. Maybe my body is just going through some "growing pains", but at any rate, it's kind of putting a damper on the run-fun-factor. We took several extra walking breaks and slowed our pace a bit so I could run more comfortably. Though Chris was doing well and feeling decent, he stayed with me up until there were just a couple of miles to go for me on the loop I was doing. He then told me he was going to go ahead and take off to finish up his run, since he was going to do an additional 4 miles. I said that was fine, then I watched him pick up his pace and pull away. At that point, I was pretty much over the run. I put my head down a bit, turned up my music (Let's Go, by Calvin Harris) and just dug in to finish the last couple of miles. I actually dropped about 20 seconds off my average pace, which was kind of surprising. I finally ended my run, 10 miles in an hour and 58 minutes.
Later in the afternoon, Chris and I took the kids to swim in the pool at the gym. Before I joined them, though, I spent about 20 minutes in the weight room working on shoulders and traps. Then I swam for a while and soaked in the hot tub. My hamstring is feeling much better now....now that I'm not running, that is. If I can just figure out how to make the pain stop while I run, that would be something.
All of this talk about my hamstring pain reminds me of something someone asked me recently. A man in our town who knows my (short) history with running and who is also trying to start running more (he currently is running up to 2-3 miles at a time), asked me at what point was I able to just go out and run "Say, 10 miles, just like that - no pain, no fuss, just run and it feels natural..." After I chuckled to myself for a minute, I answered him honestly: It has never become that, at least not for me. I never have a run that is totally pain-free. I never have a run that feels like it comes naturally. I just run, and though it's a challenge every time, I just keep doing it."
I know some people don't understand this mindset, but I know that many of you who read my blog get it. If running was easy, everyone would do it, because the benefits are so many. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it's challenging. But who can argue with stronger legs, stronger lungs, stronger heart, stronger mental capacity, stronger understanding of commitment and reward, stronger relationship with the roads and people where you live? That's why I keep running. That's why I like to run far. I wish I could say, that's why I run fast, but eh...maybe someday... :)
Why do you run?