THANK GOD FOR CUTE DOGS
Seriously!!! I am absolutely, positively sure that I could not have gotten through today's 7 miler without the motivation of all the insanely cute dogs that I saw along the way. Things didn't go quite as well as I had planned or anticipated they would. And, I've even got the battle scars to prove it (as well as the memories!).
As I took off at 5:40 a.m. this morning, I was slightly worried that my running attire of just a t-shirt and shorts was not going to be warm enough. I mean, it's only May and I do live in Iowa. So, the weather is kind of all over the place. Plus, there was a slight breeze this morning as well. I quickly realized that a. running in shorts without compression shorts underneath is the WORST idea ever, and b. HOLY SHIT RUNNING IN 55+ DEGREE TEMPS IS HOT.
Thankfully, I was able to take the first mile nice and slow. It felt so much harder running outside than I expected it would. My legs didn't have that normal weightless feeling that I've gotten used to in my previous outdoor runs. Instead, running with semi-decent form felt like a chore. Like, no matter what I did, I just could not run tall enough or get my strides down. After mile one, is where things sort of went haywire.
I was so darn pumped to be running outside, that I guess I forgot everything I know/have ever learned about pacing yourself when it comes to distance running. I kept reminded myself to find a pace that I could hold for awhile, but that little voice in the back of my head just kept insisting on going faster. So, that's precisely what I did. And as I saw my first adorable dog midway through lap 1, I couldn't help but get even more excited and run just a little bit faster.
After I had finished lap one, I found myself really feeling thing physically. Mentally, I was SO so jazzed to be running outside again. I was really starting to regret going out so fast during miles 2 and 3. I had no more than started lap 2 and I had what will probably be the first of many run ins with a certain shrub. Granted, I was trying to run super fast to both avoid having to stop for a train, and get across the street to head down 11th street. But, in my defense, SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TRIM THAT FREAKING BUSH BECAUSE IT IS A HAZARD TO PRETTY MUCH ANYONE USING THE FRACKING SIDEWALK.
I felt a sharp stinging across my left quad as I sprinted down to cross the railroad tracks. My first though, Damn I sure hope I don't have blood running down my leg...because that would make this the PERFECT first run back in BP. I didn't even think about stopping to check out the damage. I knew the best thing for me to do was to focus on getting through lap 2 without falling on my face or throwing in the towel.
Somewhere between 11th street and heading back up the four lane towards main street the side stitches started kicking in. Only, they were more like front stitches that I am going to blame on the fact that my shorts would not stay where I wanted them too, aka my loose skin was not staying in place either. At this point, the heat was also starting to really get to me. All I could think to do was to focus on putting on foot in front of the other. I dreaded climbing the mini hill to cross the tracks and turn onto main street.
As I got closer to the min hill, I just kept repeating over and over in my head "Attack the Hill!" And it must have lit a fire inside me, because I ran up the hill like I was running towards the finish line with a mob of puppies and halo top waiting for me. As my splits would indicate, this was probably the last surge of speed that I had left in me for the day. After mile 4, (aka the start of lap 3) I slowed down to running 10 minute miles instead of 9:15 miles.
I literally shuffled up the last few hills, wondering when the pain and torture was going to be over. Wondering how on earth I'm going to be able to handle running in the June/July/August heat. As luck would have it, at around the 5.5 mile mark or so, just as I was heading up one of the last big hills, I saw another cute dog. He was just laying outside on a pillow watching me struggle to get up the hill next to his backyards. And again, seeing that dog pushed me to find the joy in the pain that I was feeling in that moment.
As I headed past Casey's for probably the millionth time, I glanced at my watch to see where I was at distance wise. 6.72 miles. Now, I had to decide whether to cut thing off at 7...or go down toward the twisty trail for extra miles. At the time, I wasn't feeling to bad and really wanted to go on for a few more miles. However, when I was within a few blocks of the gym, I felt a twinge in my left calf and sharp pain along the side of my foot.
I hobbled the rest of the way until my Garmin finally hit 7.00. Then I pressed stop on the first of many long runs this summer. I honestly have no clue what is wrong with my legs or whether it would be a good idea to pop this big ass blister that showed up on my foot out of no where. I was able to make it through a 90 minute leg workout pain free, so who knows.
Moral of the story: Running in shorts when it's a thousand degrees out is going to take some getting used to. Oh, and DOGS ARE THE BEST.