Thanks to Sunset and the song "Late Night Dawning" for the inspiration for this post title.
Why am I going insane?
Let's back up to Sunday, August 15. I did my 12-mile long run that morning as scheduled. It was a step-down week, and good thing, too, because seriously, folks, those 12 miles were some of the most uncomfortable I have ever endured. The warm temperatures and accompanying oppressive humidity turned those 12 miles into a soggy chafing-riddled death march. Once I was home, I stood steaming in my kitchen as sweat trickled down my legs and into my socks. There wasn't a single square inch of fabric on me that wasn't soaked through. My sports bra and shirt dripped onto the floor when I hung them up in the closet to dry out. It was disgusting.
All that badness aside, I was feeling upbeat. I felt as if things were finally gaining momentum. I was looking forward to the next phase of training.
And then I had to go and run that beer mile...
It was later on that same day that I met my hashing friends for a classic endurance event: drink a beer, run a quarter mile. Repeat three more times. Try not to barf. I was being supremely lazy, and I was having a great time. I was one of only three people who hadn't finished as the clock slid past 30 minutes. Yes, I had wasted 30 minutes "running" a beer mile. I finished my last beer and set off at a nice leisurely pace to complete my final lap. With only 30 or so meters to go, I decided to starting moving a little faster. And then I moved faster yet. And then I was sprinting like I hadn't sprinted in forever.
Then it happened: it felt like I had been stabbed in the back of my right leg as my hamstring simply gave up. Pain shot up and down my leg as I screamed and tried not to fall down. I staggered across the finish and immediately thought:
"Oh shit...what have I done?"
What did I do, indeed. I derailed my training like a 100-car trainwreck. I couldn't even walk without limping. Running was absolutely out of the question. A few days later I broke into a jog to try and catch my office building door before it locked, took two steps and felt like I'd been shot in the back of the leg. Ibuprofen and ice bags on the couch in the evenings, wincing when I moved the wrong way or bent down to put my shoes on. I waited 9 days before I tried running again. I made it about a quarter mile before I felt the tickle behind my knee that indicates my hamstring is very unhappy. Unwilling to admit defeat I pressed onward as the tickle became a hot stabbing ball of pain.
I was forced to walk. Sweating and cursing under my breath in the cool dawn air, I walked. I tried to run again. I had to stop a few hundred feet later. I was seething. I walked a little farther, then slowly trotted home despite the ache in my leg.
I let it go for a few more days, then tried again last weekend with the same results. Walk...slow, painful jog...stop.
Frustration. Anger. Denial. Despair.
Then, a tiny ray of hope: Sunday afternoon, out in the woods hashing again. This time I walked. Walked trail with my friend on a hot August afternoon, simply enjoying being outside. We must have walked four miles before losing trail and bumping into some of the other hashers. I thought, "Screw it, I'm running."
I ran...and it didn't hurt. I wasn't running very fast, but I was running. I remained hyperaware of my right leg, poised to halt at the first tickle. Except there was no tickle. My hamstring was quiet. I rolled into the beer check in a good mood. Even Budweiser in a can tasted good at this point. I was sitting at the picnic table chatting when for no reason at all I reached around and felt for the back of my waistband where I had stashed my car key.
It wasn't there.
Folks, never in my life have I said the word "FUCK" more times in less than one minute. The gentle wave of happiness I had been riding collapsed as I thought about the four-plus miles of trail I had just traversed. My car key could be anywhere.
"Stupid fucking useless Nike so-called pocket! FUCK!"
I wanted to cry. The bleak prospect of backtracking on trail in what would most likely be a futile attempt to find my lost key, a three-hour (at least) journey of being driven home, somehow getting into my house to get my spare key, driving back to the park, then finally being able to drive my own car home...
I stood up from the table, resigned and defeated. Sitting there moping wasn't going to accomplish anything. I started trudging back toward the woods. I hadn't gotten more than 50 feet away when my friend K called out, "Come back here and chill out for a second."
"NO!" I yelled.
He insisted I return to the table, and I reluctantly did. He launched into a seemingly unrelated rambling anecdote about the "trail fairy," who finds lost items on trail. "Flip cameras...cell phones...wallets...and car keys." He pointed.
My car key was lying on the table. My mouth dropped open and I screamed, "Oh my GOD!" I grabbed it in disbelief. "Who found it?"
Two of my hashing buddies had found it on trail where the path had divided to go around a tree. I knew exactly what they were talking about. It was the very spot where I had decided to start running. The key had popped out of the pouch almost instantly. They came across it lying in the dirt not long afterward and picked it up not knowing it was mine. Another hasher recognized it as the key to my Volkswagen. By the time they reached the beer check, they all knew they had my car key. How long would it take before I realized it was missing? And how long would they let me curse and rail at the heavens before the big reveal?
Quite a while, apparently, and not without some behind-my-back mirth on their part.
I was so relieved to have my lost key returned to me I didn't care. It seemed almost miraculous that they had seen a small black piece of plastic lying on the ground, something that could easily have been overlooked.
Life was good again.
Life was even better a couple of days later when I cautiously ventured out for a run. I walked about a quarter-mile to loosen up, and then began running. I kept the pace nice and slow. I ran about 1.75 miles of my 2-mile loop and it was completely painfree. Nary a tickle nor twinge from my hamstring.
With only six weeks to go until the Grand Rapids Marathon, however, I don't know if I can get this train back on the tracks in time. I should have done my first 20-miler (of a scheduled three) last Sunday. My long runs stalled at 17 miles. I feel woefully unprepared and undertrained. I want to try a longer run this weekend to assess things, and the outcome of that run could well determine whether or not I downgrade to the half marathon in GR or forgo it altogether and concentrate on the Thunder Road Marathon in December instead.
What a nightmarish turn of events, and I have only myself to blame. If only I hadn't decided to showboat the last few meters of that damn beer mile...karma, it bites hard.
In other news:
I have seen the "cherry on top" meme popping up all over the running blogosphere. Normally I ignore memes, but two people (Pigtails Flying and the Redhead) have specifically tagged me, so I feel I should be a good sport for once and participate.
1. Answer this question: if you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?
This one is an absolute no-brainer. I would have started taking voice lessons in college when I was 18-19. I would have gotten a ten-year head start, and maybe things would have turned out differently. Most of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time are aware that I am a singer with a modest talent and unfulfilled dreams of a career in opera. I have accepted, finally, that the window of opportunity has closed and I am never going to be a professional singer. However, I have had enough training that I am able to sing moderately well for my own and my family's and friends' entertainment. I sing every day, whether it's opera at home or indie rock in the car. There are few things more enjoyable for me than letting loose with a brilliant high C in "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" or raging full throttle throughout "Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata."
2. The second thing you have to do is, pick 6 people and give them this award. You then have to inform the person that they have gotten this award.
Well, I squirm when forced to put people on the spot, so I'm just going to list my favorite run-bloggers, some of whom are awesome friends in real life, and some of whom I've never met. (Participation past this point is totally optional.) Whenever I see a new post from any of these folks in my Google Reader, it makes my day.
The Redhead of Caution: Redhead Running. Oh, my dear Redhead, where do I even begin? I am so, SO glad I have gotten to know you in real life as a friend and running partner, as well as rescuing Spike from moping around on his plaid couch and being trapped under mountains of dirty running socks.
TK of Pigtails Flying. Best booty in the run-blogging business, in my opinion. Relay team captain extraordinaire, graceful under pressure in the extreme (such as finding oneself lost in a maze of New Jersey highways as well as backing up the wrong way on a freeway on-ramp), and always good for a surprise free book from time to time just when I need it most.
Viper of the Booze Hounds Inc Running Team. I started reading Viper's blog in early 2008 and immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit. Rarely have I seen someone combine running, drinking, and writing with such skill. And not just drinking beer, but quality beer. For, as I always say, "Life is too short to drink bad beer." The Viper and I share a common region of origin, and one of these days (ONE OF THESE DAYS!) I am going to convince him to meet up with me for a beer when I'm visiting my parents.
Carolina John of Smoke Training. What started out as a chance meeting two years ago in the comments section of GQH's blog (I believe we first traded barbs over The Event Which Shall Not Be Named) grew into run-blogger friendship after we discovered our mutual love of "When Harry Met Sally," one of the greatest movies ever ("WAGON WHEEL COFFEE TABLE!"), thereby negating the pain of the aforementioned Event. When I travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Thunder Road Marathon in December, I hope I will finally get to meet him.
Spike of Running Spike. How long have we known each other now? Three years? Two? You have been an awesome friend for many reasons, not the least of which is the ever-present candy bowl. Yes, that's right, I only like you for your dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups and mini-Twix bars. Seriously, though, being able to share my first Boston Marathon experience-- from the day I qualified to the race itself almost a year later-- with you was fantastic. And of course you know how I feel about you and the Redhead. I know it hurt to break up with your shower curtain, but it really was for the best.
A tie between Nitmos of Feet Meet Street and Glaven Q. Heisenberg of the Fourinone Blog, formerly known as Mostly Running...Some Bullshit (or was it All Bullshit...No Running?). I really can't pick my favorite of these two comedians. No matter what they write, it's going to be funny. I rarely laugh harder than I do when reading something they have written.
Finally, I have to list another blog whose thrice-weekly appearance in my Reader is eagerly anticipated: Sardonic Shock Syndrome. Not a running blog (shocking, I know!) but a well-written, witty, and frequently hilarious look at just about everything with an emphasis on current events and culture. If you're from the Detroit area you may find it especially entertaining. I know the author in real life as well, having contacted him after reading his thesis at work (see, cubicle jobs are good for something!).
3. The third and final thing is, thank the person who gave you the award.
TK and Redhead, you ladies rock my world. I am lucky to know you both. :)
The long weekend is almost upon us...to steal a couple of phrases from two of the previously mentioned folks, run well and drink well, and catch y'all on the flip side!