“If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down, because that means I didn’t run hard enough.” -Steve Jones, former marathon world record holder
I finished 16 miles for the first time! Wooo hooo! I admit, I meant to complete my run yesterday evening, however, after about 1 mile I started to realize that my stomach was not in a good mood and I could tell that my day of barely having more than a drink of water was not going to support more than a few miles. Actually, I lasted 2 and a half. As I was trudging through my 2.5 miles and hoping that the discomfort would go away, I contemplated what could have possibly been the problem. Lack of water was probably my biggest issue, then I remembered that I downed a huge bowl of yogurt loaded with nuts, cranberries, and an orange about an hour before my run. I had read pretty recently that dairy is to be avoided before long (or any rigorous) run as it often can cause indigestion or an upset stomach. Lesson learned. I opted to drink a lot of water the rest of the night and eat a good carbolicious dinner and save my run for the morning.
This morning, after driving my water bottle to the park (which reminds me….I better go back there sometime today to pick it up!) so as to have a good dousing of energy boosting electrolytes at the halfway point, I started my journey through Houston/Tomball/Spring. Funny story about those electroltyes…While I was home for Christmas I bought tablets that dissolve in your water bottle. They are packaged in a tube that apparently looks like a weapon of mass destruction because, when going through security at the Waterloo airport, I was the only person whose carry-on suddenly needed the gloved inspection. Before fondling my belongings, the security officer asked, “Is there anything in this bag that is sharp and could potentially hurt me?” What I wanted to say was, “Why, yes, Ma’am. There’s a 10 pound axe and a few hunting knives, but its the machete that you might want to watch out for.” But I just gave an honest “nope” and tried to ignore my parents and sister laughing from the other side of the security wall. After shuffling all my stuff around she concluded that my plastic tube of electrolyte tablets must be what set off the ‘potential terrorist’ alarms and re-exrayed the bag after confidently removing the powdered tablet bomb. I positioned my eyes on the ceiling to avoid the inevitable rolling that I was tempted to do over and over through this scene. I was finally cleared and on my way, electrolytes safely tucked back in my carry-on. And I have this suspicion that the security officer gave herself an imaginary medal of honor for saving the lives of many people from what could have been a disgruntled teacher plane attack.
Anyway, it was a BEAUTIFUL cool morning of 59 degrees (or so said my car thermometer) and I was happily sporting a T-shirt and knee-length running pants…no scarf, hat, or gloves, nor 3 layers of shirts or a jacket to weigh me down. Just my peppermint GU in my fuel belt (aka. fanny pack for runners) and my 5 dollar bill tucked into my hidden pocket in case I needed to bribe someone into driving me back home after 11 miles…or 3. I found out quickly though that I felt great and the conditions were perfect for a long run. It was so enjoyable that I hardly even noticed the fresh skunk carcass along the curb that I had to hurdle until my nose alerted me of its presence, or the armadillo skeleton, which must have been a 2010 roadkill as there was nothing left of the little guy other than his back shell. I was even graced with some fluttering butterflies at one point and plenty of sunshine. I did get passed by some show off about 3/4 of the way through, but I just convinced myself that she probably was on mile 4, not 14, like me. The last mile or so was really hard moving one foot in front of the other, but the knowledge that “you are almost there!!” made it a little easier to go the final distance. And not one bit frozen!
What surprised me the most is how energetic I still feel, hours later. When running in Iowa I was pooped after every run, especially after the 14.5 miler Christmas evening in the freezing cold. Two factors I believe took a toll on me: hills and, duh, the cold. I love running the hills because it’s a much better workout and is great training, and Cedar Falls actually has a lot of hills. Houston, on the other hand, is more like a pancake. The only elevation change is when I walk up three flights of stairs to my apartment. The hills help you build strength and stamina and the cold air trains your lungs to use oxygen more efficiently, according to all of the articles I’ve been reading on winter running. So all you winter runners are actually training better naturally by running in the cold. I must have toughened up over the last two weeks because my lungs far outlasted my legs, but even they hung in there longer than expected! I still prefer my T-shirt and shorts.