When the sports medicine clinic hosting the run gives out free samples of Aleve along with the Clif Bars at the end, you know it’s a tough course.
And indeed it was.
My back hadn’t bothered me in weeks, but of course this morning I woke up with some pain. I crossed my fingers that it would loosen up the first mile or so.
The first mile was flat, then we turned onto a path that eventually crossed over the highway. It was dark and I had fallen behind a bit–another runner was attacked this week, so I was mildly concerned. Even moreso when I took a wrong turn. But I made it to the bridge unscathed and caught up with the others as they waited for the light.
Just past two miles, at the bottom of the Far West hill, we reached the first water stop. Even though it was still dark, it was almost 80* and humid. I probably poured as much water over my head as I drank. Only two miles in I was already miserable, both from the humidity and my sore back.
I walked most of the way up the hill, then dodged road construction as I ran-walked to the next intersection. A block later we turned back downhill again, and I ran most of it. Then more downhill, winding our way around and eventually back up. I ran-walked this part too.
My watch beeped four miles as I reached an intersection where I’d expected water but found none. I sat down on the curb and got out my map. Should we keep going to the next water stop (and how far away is that, anyway?) or turn around here? As we pondered our choices, a truck with water coolers in the back pulled up next to us and asked if we were okay. Clearly my sitting on the curb did not project confidence. Anyway, it was one of the Rogue owners, and he suggested we get water from him, then take a hill-avoiding shortcut back to Far West.
At this point, the worst of the course was behind us. Well, worst for the distance we were running–many others had to tackle a massive hill that sucks the soul out of even the strongest runner. I think if that one were in my plans today, someone would’ve had to uncurl me from the fetal position and pick me up from the side of the road about 1/3 of the way up. Not. Happening.
So the rest of the way back was pretty flat, but I still found myself run-walking it. It was frustrating–when I was running, my legs felt good and I held a respectable pace, but my back just wouldn’t let me keep it up. My overall pace looks pretty pathetic thanks to the walking segments, not because I ran slowly. Not that it matters in the end.
Anyway, taking the shortcut dropped about .25 from our total distance, but I had no interest in making it up by running around the block or the parking lot or whatever. I was happy to stop my Garmin at 7.75. I had run out of fucks to give.
Icy towels and massage therapists greeted us on our return. I took advantage of both. And the aforementioned free samples of Aleve.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to cry. I hurt. I was tired. I had to walk some of it. But it’s done, and next time it will be easier.