Inside A Runner's Mind

I ran 21 miles today. Let's repeat that statement, just for fun. I RAN TWENTY-ONE MILES TODAY. And wished all of you were with me. But figured the closest thing to it would be giving you an upfront and inside look at the workings of a middle-aged (but oh-so-young-at-heart) runner's mind as she coughs out the miles. We ran at Salem Lake, which is a 7-mile loop.

Mile 1: I'm cold. This sucks. Just hang in there, Dena. You'll feel better once you warm up.

Mile 3: I'm cold. This sucks.

Mile 4: Running with a pack of people makes the run so much easier. Chris is pacing us and we're doing under a 9-minute pace. I'm so glad I have my group. I'd plod along at a 10-minute pace without them.

Miles 7: First lap complete. That was easy! Should I ditch my long-sleeved shirt? It's still cold out, but my shirt is wet from sweat. However, I'm only wearing a sleeveless shirt underneath. I compare notes with my fellow female runners and we decide we'll all run one more lap in long-sleeves. Load up on Chocolate Outrage Gu.

Mile 7.1: I catch a glimpse of myself in a car window as we head out for another lap. I do not look like that. But in case I actually might, I plunge my hands into my soaking bangs and toss them around, praying for a miracle.

Mile 10: I could almost give a s*** about my bangs. It's taking all my effort to just keep up with our group's pace leader.

Mile 12: I know I need to slow down. My legs hurt at the crease of my torso and my buttocks are singing the "I'm in pain" song too.  But it's only 2 more miles to the next pit stop. Suck it up, girlfriend. Suck. It. Up.

Mile 14: I'm glad I sucked it up. But I know I'm in trouble if I don't slow down for the last lap. I eat 1/4 of a banana (never tried eating on a run before and not sure how it will sit), then eat another Gu and drink Gatorade and water. Uh-oh. My legs hurt.  As in, I don't want to do this anymore. As in, I would sign over the majority of my bank account to anyone with a blanket and a cup of hot coffee who would offer to drive me home. My hair is a sopping wet mass. I remind myself for the umpteenth time to buy a hat. However, it has warmed up a bit so I ditch my long-sleeved shirt. We head out on the final lap.

Mile 15: I'm cold. This sucks.

Mile 16: You know you're tired when you start taking detours around larger pebbles in the road because the thought of lifting your foot high enough to step over them is just incomprehensible.

Mile 17: I'm running alone. There are a few people ahead of me and a few people behind me. Which is okay, as I slow down and get a a good grip on my breathing. My legs feel almost numb, but it's not painful. And I'm breathing just like I was taking an easy stroll around the neighborhood. There is hope for a strong finish. I slightly pick up the pace.

Mile 18: I mess with my bangs again. I good sign I'm feeling better.

Mile 20: Thank you, Jesus. Almost there. However, there is a horrible ugly hill between me and the finish line.

Mile 20.5: I make it 3/4 of the way up the hill, then have to walk. Otherwise, my legs might literally fall off.

Mile 21: 3 hours, 9 minutes, and 21 seconds of running. The minute I stop my legs go wobbly. It's an effort to lower myself to the ground and let's just not talk about getting back up because that wasn't pretty. Our trainer has bagels with peanut butter, Oreo cookies, pretzels, and jelly beans waiting for us. At the moment, he is my favorite person on the planet.

It takes almost 30 minutes of eating, drinking, and recovery before I feel able to drive home. When I want to shift position in the car on the way home, instead of just moving my leg, I use my hands to pick the leg up and reposition it.

Three hours later: I'm home, showered, fed, and napped. Stiff, but not as much as I would have thought. I'm eating everything not nailed down. The cats are staying out of my way. I look forward to a non-running day tomorrow. I hope feeling will return to my left buttock in time for Tuesday's run.

The End