Saturday, November 2, 2013
Blame It on the Rain
I woke up this morning listening to the rain. Before I even opened my eyes, I thought about my running clothes I'd left out on my dresser; my coffee maker's on button glowing in the kitchen; the banana I'd placed on the counter; and my running shoes, left neatly by the front door. For once, I'd taken measures to be ready to leave the house by 7 a.m. so that I could be on the trail by 7:30, an attempt to reignite my motivation. Last week, I skipped my long run altogether because I didn't feel well, and this week, I skipped my last three-mile run because, even though my voice finally returned, I've still been congested. No matter what, I'd told myself last night, I was going to get an early start this morning and complete my twelve-mile run as best I could, even if I did feel drained.
Yet my warm duvet and the rain's faint crackling outside of my bedroom windows were too seductive, so I rolled over and slept until 8. When I was finally able to push myself out of bed, last night's preparation nagged at me, so I begrudgingly changed into my clothes, sucked down two cups of coffee, and grabbed my banana and bottle of water and headed out the door. I was hopeful that the rain would stop by the time I made it to Dunedin.
It didn't. I walked around for a bit outside, trying to gauge whether or not I could brave the rain and run as planned. I decided against it, choosing instead to go to Barnes and Noble for a bagel and magazine. There's nothing wrong with tomorrow, I told myself. I knew Ryan was planning on fishing and writing for most of the day, but what could I do about the rain? If I didn't go today, I could just catch up on Homeland. I could stop by Old Navy and get some loungewear. That's what I needed. The weather would be turning cold for good soon, and I needed to be comfortable in an oversized sweatshirt. Plus, I've been sick. No one can fault me for that. Maybe I could even convince Ryan to take the girls somewhere for a few hours so that I could come home and crawl back into bed.
And that's what I did, until the rain cleared at 12:30. The temperature was cool enough that running in the afternoon wouldn't be a problem, so I had to make myself do it. I drank a third cup of coffee and kissed my blankets, which just moments before had been piled on top of me, good-bye.
No one was on the trail, which made me nervous. I ran about a mile and a half alone, but when I saw a couple of other runners approaching, I was so relieved that I decided to join them. I learned that John and Caroline were married and training for the Disney marathon. They had ten miles total to cover, with four more to go before they turned around, so I knew I could stay with them for most of my run. John told me that this marathon would be his fifth, and that it was Caroline who got him into running to begin with. He said she was a runner when they met, and he only pretended to be interested in running to impress her. On their next date, she'd suggested a short run, and after a mile of struggling to keep up with her, he'd had to confess. She made him stick with it, though, and he eventually discovered that he liked it. They were headed toward downtown Clearwater. I remembered that Ryan had told me not to go too far in that direction, but I brushed the thought aside. After all, I had John and Caroline.
We went through an area with large stray dogs and boarded-up houses. Homeless people were meandering along the trail. Close to our turn-around point, there were three people huddled in a drainage ditch smoking crack. I was terrified. Who was John to protect me anyway? What could John and Caroline do if I got mugged? Plus, they were both running at a slower pace than I was, so they were far enough behind me on the trail that I might look like an easy target. I had to wait for them.
At the next stop sign, they offered me Gu Chomps energy chews, which I declined. This was no time for a snack break. They were smiling good-naturedly, and I was imagining my death. Clearly, it was time to part ways. I thanked them for allowing me to crash their couples run and took off.
Unfortunately, it was still deserted in the other direction, aside from the occasional man wearing dirty clothes and a backpack. I decided to finish my run on the Dunedin Causeway, just a short drive away. By then, the clouds parted enough that I could appreciate the pink and purple outlines drawn around them by the sun. There were plenty of runners there, along with dog-walkers and moms and dads pushing strollers. I ran my last two miles and jumped into my car, relieved, at last, to have finished.
Now, I'm back under the covers, my hair still wet from my shower, my stomach full from a meal I'm not going to admit to. Ryan's with the girls today, and I'll be with them all day tomorrow, so I might just stay in this bed until morning. I'm proud of myself for completing the run, especially considering how much I wanted to avoid it, and I'm also proud of my pace, 9:39/mile. I hope that next week's long run is not met with the same dread that this week's run was, but I won't be surprised if it is. My whole seven weeks of training have been full of highs and lows: I don't want to do the run, whether it's three miles or ten, but after unsuccessfully avoiding it, I do it, and then I am glad for it. I imagine that something is going to go wrong, like I'm going to get hit by a cyclist or happen upon an axe murderer, but then it doesn't. I wouldn't call that motivation, exactly, but if the promise of an oversized sweatshirt and a cozy bed gets me going, I guess that will have to do.