Sunday, November 9, 2014

Misery Run

Runners love the fall.  And what's not to love?

West Point at Eno

The air cools down a bit and we can finally get back to our full potential after sweating and suffering through another sultry Carolina summer.  

The leaves begin their turn and peak in early November in a brilliant display of autumnal colors, which make each run down the (usually monotonous) Tobacco Trail seem a little different from the day before.  

I am reminded of cross-country races from the fall days of yore, which give me a little mental distraction while I hammer out my usual 4-6 mile jaunt after work before the time change forces me back on the treadmill.

A docket of some of the best races of the year await, and a whole plethora of fall races still remain on my bucket list.  

Sometime in the early summer, I furiously map out my fall racing schedule,  create overwrought excel spreadsheets like the running-nerd that I am with mileage plans culminating in some peak race just before Thanksgiving and the beginning of the winter racing lull.  

And so after a 2013 of seriously training for mile/5K type races, what would 2014 bring?  

Was this a year to conquer trail racing - maybe Medoc or Shut-In?  

Was this a year to bite off my first ultra?  How about Table Rock or the JFK 50?  

Or how about assault my weak half marathon PR?  

Well that was the plan, when I signed up for the Richmond Half back in June.  A half on roads?  Piece of cake!

Yes, runners love the fall.  But the running gods of the fall do not always love us back...

Every day not spent outside this time of year is a lost day

After what was supposed to be a fun run at Continental Divide, I declared victory.  I had a brush with trail running greatness and considered my lack of hornet stings or broken ankles a resounding success.  I went out to Moses Cone Park the next day just to charge up the side of a hill and taunt the running gods, pronouncing to them "I AM BACK!  YOU THOUGHT BOSTON TRAINING BURIED ME, BUT I AM READY TO DESTROY THIS FALL!" 

And they reminded me:

Do not taunt the running gods.

I repeat:  DO. NOT. TAUNT. THEM!  

They will bludgeon and bite off your calves.  They will shish-kabob your plantar fascia, and chew it up like raw meat, and spit pieces of your sniveling carcass all over the trail. 

They don't care that you're having a kid in March and this was supposed to be the grand finale of these carefree halcyon years of running - that last fall to take down those paltry few soft PRs you have left.  I planned on taking it easy NEXT fall, not this one...

They don't care - nope, not one bit...

So what does one do when you lose not just an entire season of races ... but your FAVORITE season.

You wait and rest your legs.  

You go to a few concerts and don't worry about missing your interval session the next day. 

You read books on weekend mornings instead of rushing out the door for an early run.  

You stay a little later at work so you don't have to play so much catch up the next day.  

You go for walks with your wife and bike rides to stay in some semblance of shape and appreciate the picture perfect days of September and October.  

You take advantage of all the time and energy you would have spent running and channel it into something else - like resurrecting that half-baked YA novel you are writing about angst-ridden teenagers with super running powers.  It will be available to read on your Kindle sometime in January for $0.99!  

(note I didn't say what year so don't hold your breath)

And then when you're all healed up, you go and sign up for the most ridiculous adventure run you can find.  Only something with water pits, technical single track, and a manure pit would do... because... err.. that makes a lot of sense?  Well at least I wouldn't feel pressured to run "fast" ...

So hey - it seems fitting that my "comeback" was Godiva's Misery Run.

Leapfrogging my way out of danger...
(photo courtesy Shannon Johnstone who risked her camera and life taking action shots)

I'm not going to taunt the running gods this time.  I ran today, smiled most of the way except my dry heave around mile 5, and yes I finished.  It cost me $5, I didn't even need to leave my house until 9:15, and spent some time with a bunch of friends I've sadly been forced to stay away from for a few months like I've been in quarantine (it was for my own good, I promise....)  

At just under 6 miles, it was my longest run in over a month.  And I didn't fall face first in the manure or tear an ACL landing backward over a hay bale.  I'll find out tomorrow how I really feel.

Family farm day - Better than taking kids to a hay ride

I think this video sums up my experience better than my words.

(I love you too Megan)

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