I finished a 17 mile training run on Friday that had all the elements of what Long Runs demand.
First of all, my calves felt destroyed all week, which had me icing them with a bag of peas off and on, and for 3 days I was ingesting a ibuprofen/naproxen cocktail, so before I even started the run I feared I would have to bail out. Although the first 4 miles were tough, my incredibly smashed-in, painful to the touch and tight as a hangman's noose calf muscles finally released, so that by mile six I no longer feared they would stop me.
Then it was smooth sailing, it was a 8 mile rush of energy, of running faster than expected pace, of dashing down sidestreets I have never been on 'just because' and of everything flowing loose and easy. Then the aches and pains hit, and already at mile 12 I had sore tightening muscles.
I finished the last miles with some grunts, with some steps where I closed my eyes and felt a bit delirious, and I know I was in the zone cause I finished with sweat and mucus and who knows what other kind of mojo on my mug but was fully oblivious to the looks from those around me.
As with every long run, as much as I'm relieved when it's over, I also wish I was back in it. I love those moments where the exhaustion and muscle pain hits, where you feel so raw and the rest of the world fades away. I know I am in that zone when the headphones suck me into the music so intensely, and every nerve feels a strange combination of being numb yet fully exposed.
And then that moment where you walk into your house and chug down the cold chocolate milk waiting for you. My thoughts flow from "damn that felt good" to "God I hope I didn't injure myself" and eventually "Damn do I want to eat but please dont' eat more calories then you just burned." Inevitably, I munch with the Long Run munchies that make the marijuana munchies look like nothing. 5,000 calorie days inevitably follow a long run day.
It's time to start taking my S-Caps. I love S-Caps. Maybe they are just Placebo caps, who knows, but they help so much. It's just a load of sodium, but it works better than gatorade, and is probably more similar to pickle juice.
Cool thing was I took the day off of work on Friday to get the run in just so I could have family time over the weekend. (any other runners out there take a day off of work, or a half day, just to finish a long run? It can't be just me.)
So, I know my calves will tighten up again, and they will ask for a cold pack of peas and be snuggly tucked into the calf sleeves before bed each night. I will massage them under the table during work meetings, I will take strides randomly in the middle of walking through parking lots just to see what they feel like, and i will wait for them to be fresh so I can start all over
It is amazing how 'intimate' we get with our chronic injuries and nagging pains. We know their triggers, we know their moods, we read their subtle signs and know when they will flair up and can tell what it takes to fix them. They are sort of like the annoying co-workers who we know we have to deal with, who we don't necessarily like or hate because we've moved beyond liking or hating to just accepting them for what they are and modifying our work to fit them in.
I am at that point in my training where I know I could rock some runs if I could just take 5 days in a row off, but then I look at the calender and with only 61 more training days and my plan to do 6 more progressively longer Long Runs (another 17, an 18, 19, two 20's, and a 22) and I realize that I just don't have the time, so I push my limits, make my legs ragged, hit the ice more,and push through to the taper. I want to do more speed work, I want to do more hills, I want to do more miles, but as it is and I'm going at it the minimalist route. I can run though most any exhaustion, but one thing I can't do is run through injury, and after some years I can tell when I'm on the precipice of such an occurrence. As the great Scotty Bowman (and probably many others) said, "You can play with pain but not with injury."
I've heard a marathon is like a giving birth, and much like you only get pregnant again after forgetting the pain of childbirth, you start training for a marathon again once you forget the pain of the 26.2 miles you just ran. In both cases, the joy remains. Well, since I'm doing 2 marathons in 4 and 1/2 months it's going to feel like I'm giving birth to twins, and during the pain of the first delivery I will know that in the back of my mind another one is soon on its way.
Only 61 days left until it's time to taper for the Ann Arbor Marathon.
"The Jade Rabbit" - A story of a miraculous marathon run,
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