As I walked into the kitchen at 6:15 this morning, I heard
the cat yowling for his breakfast rain pounding on the roof and came thisclose to going back to bed. Especially since last Saturday’s six-mile run and Tuesday night’s four miles were … unpleasant. Aside from the pain, I’ve been favoring my left leg, so I’m running more on my forefoot than usual and everything is just a little off.
But Thursday, I got a new pair of shoes–the next version of the ones I’ve been wearing–and maybe kinda sorta felt a little improvement on a two-mile test run. So, perhaps I was overly optimistic to think anything would be different today, but I went anyway.
It was 46* (and still raining, but lighter now) as we headed out. In my head, I was hoping for six miles, but continuing on this overly-optimistic theme, I really wanted to make it seven. I mean, the Austin half is coming up fast–pretty soon I’ve got to decide if I can put in enough training to finish that race. But I promised myself I’d go further only if my knee was feeling good. I figured I’d know by the second mile–that’s when the last couple of runs have fallen apart.
Clearly my endurance has taken a huge hit since running a ten-miler, then two 5K PR races back-to-back-to-back in November. So I plodded along a minute per mile slower than usual for a Saturday run. But aside from that, I felt closer to normal than I have in a while. My strides were more even, my foot striking less gimpy. One mile, then two. Still good.
At the mile three water stop (which would also be my turnaround for six miles) I could see the roof of my house. Part of me was tempted to duck through the gap in the fence and go make a coffee or something. But even though I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop (so to speak) and the gimpiness to return, I actually enjoyed being out there–in the rain and cold and wind–because I could.
So I kept going another half-mile, for seven.
One of my friends turned back at three, and the other two got ahead, planning to turn around at four. I stopped and stretched my hamstring at 3.5, watched the steam rise off the pond (it had been nearly 80* most of the week), then headed back. Slowly, but still mostly normal, with just a little hamstring achiness every so often. In those middle miles, I walked a bit now and then (because endurance) but generally maintained a steady, albeit glacial, pace.
The wind picked up on the return trip. My headphones died the last half-mile. I couldn’t keep up with my friends. My new shoes felt too tight and I kept having to loosen the laces to get them just right. But you know what? I DID NOT CARE.
I had hoped for a half-assed six-miler and I got a solid seven miles. Rain nor cold
nor gloom of night could keep me from my appointed rounds. And afterward, foam-rolling felt a little easier. Hell, walking felt a little easier. In fact, the rest of the day I felt no residual soreness at all–for the first time since Thanksgiving I ran pretty well, then moved around completely pain-free afterward.
That’s not to say after our post-run coffee celebration I didn’t sit on the couch watching Netflix, warming my toes by the fireplace. But I did it comfortably.