8 Weeks Out…Friday the 13th

For the first day in weeks (even on the cruise it seemed that there was some reason to wake up early daily), I decided to sleep in and it felt great. Still recovering from the cold which had left me congested and having a very difficult time breathing through my nose made for sleepless nights all week.  The one night I actually fell asleep early, I got paged (damn that pager!)  and lost 2 hours of sleep to work on the problem.  By Thursday night, I was exhausted and fell asleep early, stuffy nose or no stuffy nose.  I had turned the alarm off in hopes of getting some sleep.  And I did, and it was wonderful.

But here’s the great Catch-22 of marathon training in the South during the summer.  You get up early to run during the relative coolness, or you sleep late and run in the heat.  You either get enough rest or you get enough coolness (if you’re lucky) – you don’t get both.  All week long I had chosen coolness.  Today I chose rest.

I was up by 8:30 but I still had a few chores to tend to.  By the time I finished and got ready to run, it was 11:00 and the temperature had climbed into the 90’s.  Ouch baby, very ouch.

The plan was to run about 8 ‘easy’ miles.  I grabbed a Gatorade, drank a few ounces, then filled the bottle up with ice cubes.  The Gatorade was nice and chilly when I started running.  A mile in, I was carrying a hot bottle of Gatorade soup.

I had this brilliant plan to work a few six-second hill sprints (a favorite workout of coach Brad Hudson) into my run.  One of the two Kenton Place crushed gravel trails has this nice short, but steep, hill.  After a mile warm-up, I ran the little Kenton place quarter-mile loop half a dozen times, and each time, I sprinted up the hill.  I felt fine at this point.

After my hill sprints, I headed down Sam Furr Road to the McDowell Creek greenway, an asphalt trail.  A searing, palpable heat rose from the blacktop.  I was only about 3 miles into my 8-mile run and the heat was sucking the life out of me.  I thought about  Todd Hartung who recently ran the Running With the Devil marathon across the Mohave Desert in 100+ degree temps along what the race director describes as ‘unrelenting rolling hills’.  Why was I being such a big wuss, struggling in a relatively chilly 90 degrees, on a flat trail?  Suck it up Strickland.

There’s minimal shade along the McDowell Creek greenway, especially around noon.  But there is some.  When I encountered a second or two of shade, and a breeze, I was oh-so-very-grateful.  But other than these all too brief respites, I was slogging along directly under the blazing sun.  I ran to the end of the 1.5 mile trail and back.

By the time I reached Sam Furr Road again, I was a beaten man.  I walked the mile and a half ascent back to my home.

I’d like to blame this poor performance on the cursed date of Friday the 13th.  But then I slogged my way through Saturday the 14th’s run too.

So I’m struggling in a bit of a tough patch.  I’m on a downswing in general as my job and other things are going poorly as well.  But such is life.  And running, as much as we like to think otherwise, falls under the larger umbrella of life.  Things outside of our control will affect our running.  All any of us can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if we have to do it a little more slowly than usual.

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