I don’t recognize the woman I’ve turned into this summer. I look in the mirror and see a faintly familiar face reflected there, but it can’t be me. Who is this dedicated night owl who gets up at 4:30am to run ridiculous miles in the Texas summer heat? I hardly know myself anymore.
Two mornings in a row I’ve set the alarm for 4:20am. The first time was for a run followed by a core/strength workout, the second for a ten mile run at the lake. The runs and workouts are not surprising, only the time on the clock.
But then again, who gets up at 4:30am for a core workout?
Anyone can change. Even me.
I’m always amazed that other people are out and about at 5:15am when I drive the ten minutes to the lake. Do people really have jobs that early in the morning? I park my car in the dark parking lot and worry about the car getting broken into while I’m gone.
My friends arrive and we spray ourselves with DEET-laced mosquito repellent, a new necessity because of West Nile. Setting our Garmins, we trudge down the hill, legs slow and stiff at first, then fluid and smooth as we run along the edge of the water.
Sometimes the conversation flows, and can veer off into a myriad of diverse topics. Other times we run silently, alone with our own thoughts, sharing a common bond of friendship and movement.
After these early morning runs the traffic is heavy and flows ten miles per hour faster. People tailgate, anxious to get to work. I’m feeling relaxed and satisfied from the run, and take a slower route through the neighborhood.
I pull into my driveway and the porch light is still on. Michael sleeps, and I feel a fleeting sense of regret that I got up so early.
The run has me pumped, and I contemplate doing some yoga before I shower. I need to use up all this energy before the inevitable mid-afternoon wave of sleepiness hits me.
I used to do all my runs alone. I thought I loved it. Sometimes I would listen to music. Mostly I listened to the birds and my thoughts.
Now it’s practically a requirement that I run with someone else. Running alone is not half as much fun when I have only myself to keep me company.
Change is good.
Saturday we ran our first 20 mile long run in anticipation of the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa. It was warm and humid, and I was still ridiculously sore from a full day of gardening two days prior. I was sore in places not usually challenged by running, and I knew it would only get worse the farther I got into the run.
M woke up when I did at 4:30AM and commented on all the fire trucks and sirens he heard all night. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then remembered it was the Texas/OU game. I heard the low rumble of bass from a passing car outside our house and later noticed there was much more traffic as I drove to meet my friends.
Usually we have the streets of Dallas to ourselves on these early Saturday morning runs. And when you run 20 miles, you cover a lot of city streets.
It was warm and humid when we started at 5:30AM, 73 degrees and 76% humidity, but thankfully there was a brisk breeze to keep us cool. It was also overcast, which is always welcome on a Texas long run, regardless of the season.
There were six of us who started, and the usually quiet streets were already awake with Texas/OU fans. Some we could tell hadn’t made it to bed from last night’s downtown debauchery; others were either en route to the game itself or a bar where they could snag a seat to watch the game on HD.
We ran one of our favorite routes, which takes us downtown past the public library, city hall, the Old Red Courthouse, the JFK Memorial, and Dealey Plaza, which is the exact location where JFK was assassinated from the 6th floor of the School Book Depository. We stopped to look at the two X’s that are permanently marked on the road to show where he was killed, and to look at the window where Lee Harvey Oswald stood that day and changed history.
I’m always happy to hit the halfway point in a long run, but at 10 miles my legs already felt like they usually do at mile 24 of a marathon. They were really, really sore, almost to the point where I felt like I was limping. I probably won’t be able to walk tomorrow, I thought, and trudged on.
An on and on and on. Through downtown, over the trolley tracks and cobblestones of McKinney Ave, along Turtle Creek and the opulence of Highland Park, and up the Katy Trail. Keep moving.
I finally fell apart around mile 17. My legs cried uncle and I had to walk. Normally this would feel like a defeat so close to the finish, and I would come in with my head hanging low, but I knew better than to push it. 20 milers are notorious for causing injuries, and starting on sore muscles was only asking for trouble. Hari, who is not even training for a marathon, needed to back off as well, and we walked it in together. After more than 4 hours of running, my feet were aching.
No matter how much it hurt, though, I was loving it.
Two weeks ago I had a fantastic 18 mile long run. The weather was cool and I felt strong and smooth. On the drive home, I had the thought that I’ve had many times after a long run: I wish I had the energy to keep going. As in, keep running all day, for the rest of the day.
When I’m not training for a marathon, the thought of a 20 mile long run causes me to shudder in wonder and revulsion. I forget that it’s simply a matter of building up the mileage, week by week, run by run, until it’s not only possible, but attainable. I forget how much I enjoy it.
There’s something about the long run that keeps me coming back. Part of it is the challenge of pushing myself physically and mentally beyond my previous limits. Part of it is being outdoors when most of the city still sleeps, when the only thing that matters is making it to the next water stop. But mostly, it’s the fellowship of running mile after mile with a group of people I’ve grown to love, people who know exactly what I’m made of, who’ve seen me when even my worst was the best I could give.
It’s difficult to explain. Something happens when you’re having a good long run. Something clicks in your brain. Body and mind come together and everything flows.
No matter how tired you are, life funnels down to only one thought: keep moving. That’s all you have to do, keep moving. It’s stunningly beautiful in its simplicity. There’s nothing else that needs to be done, nothing that needs to be worried about, nothing other than this one thing that you love: RUNNING.
8/16/11 – 6 MILES
Got up at 4AM for yesterday’s run. I looked for an excuse to bail on my friends. Got up anyway and let the dogs out. Not happy. It was muggy and hot.
Met Bill, Bryan, Shannon, Heather W, and Steph at the dog park at 5AM. Shannon said her car showed 88 degrees. I was extremely grumpy.
The run was uneventful but slightly out of my comfort zone, a true tempo run for this time of year when I struggle to keep my pace in the heat. There was no breeze and everyone was very quiet. Talking about our misery just makes it worse.
On the positive side, saw a beautiful sunrise when I walked the dogs at 6:30AM.
Stats: 6 miles @ 9:34 pace – 88 degrees at 5AM; 2 mile walk with the dogs
8/27/11 – 4.23 MILES
Set the alarm for 6AM to get up and run 4 miles on my own. Hit the snooze twice then gave up.
I just didn’t feel like getting up to run in the heat.
Woke up two hours later feeling guilty, knowing I would have to run in the evening when it was even warmer.
The heat is definitely getting to me. Today I schlepped around the house not feeling like doing anything. To say I’m tired of the summer is a gross understatement. The hardest part is that there is no break. The heat is grinding me down, day after day, unrelentingly. I truly feel as if I could go insane from this heat.
Talked Michael into running with me in the dark. It was still hot.
Stats: 4.23 miles @ 9:23 pace – 99 degrees at 8:15PM
8/9/11 – 6 MILES
It never ceases to amaze me how I can mismanage something as simple as an alarm clock. I set the alarm to go off at 4AM this morning, and of course it didn’t. I still woke up on my own, but I do this all the time. Maybe that’s why my body has been trained not to trust the alarm.
After Sunday’s 4 miles on the treadmill at the gym I made the decision to boycott the treadmill. The gym is depressing. No one talks to each other, everyone’s plugged in to their music (myself included), and the whole thing seems counter to what I love most about running, which is being outdoors. I resolved to either run outside or not at all, which essentially means I have to get up at ungodly hours to run until this heat wave passes.
Met Bryan, Bill, Stephanie, Heather W, and Shannon at the White Rock dog park. We were the only cars there. The temp was 86 degrees with humidity at 50%. On the bright side, there was a nice breeze. I wondered aloud why that wind wasn’t bringing in some rain, and everyone talked about the impenetrable high pressure ridge that is stationed over Texas.
Eventually Steph and Bryan darted ahead, and pretty much stayed there the rest of the run. We saw a few other groups pass us in the dark, and I was surprised that there were even bikers out that early. We discussed running 5 or 6 miles and decided on 6. My thinking was, if I’m up this early anyway might as well go whole hog and run 6.
On the way back to the car I kept feeling small drops of water on my hands. At first I thought it might be from Shannon’s water bottle, but eventually I noticed it had turned overcast. When I brought up the possibility that it might be–dare I even say the word–RAIN, my Doubting Thomas friends scoffed at the ridiculousness of the idea. I think we have all forgotten what the substance is. Sure enough, when I got in my car to leave, there were raindrops on the windshield.
There were maybe 10 total raindrops, but it was nice to know it hasn’t forgotten us here in Texas.
Stats: 6.3 miles @ 9:30 pace
8/4/11 – 4 MILES
Setting the alarm for 4:45AM to get up and run makes me grumpy. Especially when the reason for getting up at such an unholy hour is to stay out of the heat, knowing that it’s still going to be close to 90 degrees at 5:30AM. And not going to sleep until midnight doesn’t help either.
Complaining about the heat this summer is starting to lose its appeal. This has been going on since the first week of May. I know I need to be strong and resilient, and not think about it, and just run. But really. This. Is. Ridiculous.
Met Bill, Nikki, Dawn, and Giovanni at the Comerica bank on Mockingbird/Abrams at 5:30AM and ran two miles down Alderson and Swiss to Skillman. Along the way we saw a dog running towards us off leash. As it got closer we realized it was a coyote! In the middle of my neighborhood! In the middle of the city! I’ve seen–and heard–them down at the lake several times and have to wonder if they are coming up from the lake to hunt in the neighboring streets at night for small game.
It was another tough run, mostly because of the humidity. It was like trying to breathe through a straw. We powered through. Running up the last block of Swiss felt like running up Flagpole Hill.
Personal realization: I carried my water bottle with the hand strap and have decided I hate the weight. I’ll look dorky and wear a fuel belt in the future.
Got home and walked both dogs 2.5 miles–and Michael slept through it all. But then he went to work–and I didn’t.
Stats: Run – 4 miles @ 9:46 pace, Walk – 2.5 miles
8/2/11 – 6 MILES
Got my lazy butt out of bed early this morning so I could get in my 6 mile run before the supposed Hottest Day of the Year began. Yesterday’s temperature of 107 broke the record, and today the high is expected to be 108-110. I knew that running in the evening wasn’t an option, and the Tuesday night DRC run was officially cancelled because of the heat, so it was either get up and run early or hit the treadmill at the gym later in the day.
Treadmill = shoot me now.
So that means I’m getting up at 6AM. It was actually a good run. After weeks of evening runs at 101-103 degrees, the early morning humid 88 degree weather really did feel like spring. At first there weren’t a lot of other people running in my neighborhood, but once the sun came up people started appearing like humans submerging from their homes in a zombie movie.
I still have a slight nagging soreness in my left quad (from yoga, I think) and the usual tendonitis in my left inner ankle that pops up when I start upping my mileage. Other than that, it was nice to run in the early hours of the neighborhood for a change.
Stats: 6.11 miles @ 9:34 pace – 89 degrees at the finish