Sunday, September 13, 2009

The aftermath

My stomach churned, my legs cried out for ice.  I rolled over and checked the time on my phone.  Ten of seven in the morning.  Now here is a great debate if ever there was one.  At ten of seven in the morning on a sunday, who actually wants to get out of bed and eat something and take Ibuprofen? If I get up I'm going to end up stretching out my legs and god knows that once I've been out of bed for more than five minutes I'm not going back.  But who wants to lie in bed, legs begging to be loosened, and stomach just itching for something to eat.  I will never get any rest this way either.  Ten minutes later, stomach wins out, as stomach always does.  There are many things I can stay in bed through, leg pain, having to pee so bad I might explode, sleeping through everyone in the house awake and sometimes even fighting, bright sunlight.  The list goes on forever but stomach always wins.
I get myself out of bed suddenly aware that the burning in my calfs is from spending hours in three inch heels on the dance floor just hours before.  Weddings.  gotta love weddings.  But weddings cannot be an excuse for not running, and so my ten miler had to get squeezed in pre ceremony.  

The morning was dark, so much so I had a moment of confusion, wondering if it was maybe the middle of the night.  I picked up my phone to silence it's deafening beeps .  6 am on the dot.  I wish I could have rolled over to boyfriend and whispered "Five more minutes?" But he wasn't even in the house.  I wasn't even in my bed.  I was on the couch.  My plan of falling asleep on the couch had backfired, instead of being uncomfortable and being easier to get up in the morning, I was just as content to go back to sleep for another five years. Or five hours, which ever came first.  Five seconds was more like it.  I stood up, and stretched ready to begin my pre run routine.  Did I even remember how to get ready this early in the morning?  I knew the basics, shorts socks shoes, sports bra, tech t-shirt, windbreaker.  Gatorade, breakfast bar, ipod, headphones and then ... wait, where were my headphones?!?! While I rarely ran my long runs with music I counted on the upbeat tunes to wake me up and motivate myself to get out the door.  this morning they were nowhere to be found.  No matter though, I didn't have much time left, I had to be out the door to drop gatorade on the course so I simply plugged my ipod into my car and got revved up that way.  I drove my car around the slick twists and turns of Kelly drive, pulling over just before the art museum to stash two bottles of gatorade behind a tree.  After that I was on my way to pick up heather and we would begin our run.  
We started out crossing falls bridge onto west river drive and chatted mostly about weddings, registries, planning and the like.  Heather was recently engaged and as exited about planing the whole ordeal as ever, and although boyfriend and I were still only boyfriend and I, I never much minded talking about all the planning.  Plus I had a wedding to go to later that afternoon which is why we were running so early.  Just like last week the sky was over cast, and the weather cool, with only a slight threat of rain from the dark clouds hovering around the city.  I noticed we were going along at quite a decent pace for having so much trouble two weeks ago.  The weather had a lot to do with it, but slowly we were both feeling so much stronger and it felt great to cover the distance in a comfortable fashion instead of a struggling one.  This week I had mapped the course, so Heather followed me up hills and through Fairmount park as I explained to her the course that the Marathon would take you.  We did a semi backwards version in order to do most of our uphills in the first half of our run.  Running through the war memorial and down Lansdown drive memories of my training flooded back into my mind.  When ever I thought of those days I felt stronger, I felt like I could go farther, I felt my steps become more fluid.  Those where the days where I could race along doing ten miles at a nine minute pace.  But for now we just went along as best we could, just finishing the miles, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the company an the conversation.  We begin to approach the art museum and by now we have completed five miles at least.  Our thoughts are on gatorade.  The sweet taste of gatorade flowing over our lips, thrusting energy into our bodies, giving us the push we need to complete the run.  We round the corner onto kelly drive.  I start to look for the tree, I run off the path only to find that our gatorade is gone.  Are my eyes deceiving me? is our liquid energy, our running treasure really gone? We know it didn't just get up and run away, could someone have really stolen our gatorade? This fact would forever baffle me but it didn't stop us.  We quickly found a water fountain which would have to satisfy us for the next four miles.
Thankfully it was only four miles and that last stretch always went by fast.  There were always plenty of people to look at, and when falls bridge appeared in the distance out of nowhere came this surge of energy that pushed you up the hill to the finish.   Ten miles.  ten miles and it wasn't even 9 am yet.

As I lay stretched out on boyfriend's living room floor, stuffing my face with leftover pizza and Gatorade (finally!), stretching out my aching muscles, I remembered why I did what I did.  Why I ran.  Because for some reason I actually liked the pain.  I actually liked when my muscles felt hard and tough and toned.  I liked being a runner.
I would put up with the pain, the hunger, the early nights, and the even earlier mornings.  I loved what I did.

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