Last week I couldn’t run at all. Sidewalks had not been fully cleared of snow (and the sidewalks by my place are still packing 4′ of gray snow…), trails were still not cleared. But I was hopeful — Thursday the temperature was going to warm up, and it was going to be on the 40’s throughout the weekend. That must melt some of the snow, no?
No such luck. I met up with folks from my running group on Saturday morning, over 2 weeks since my last run, and we made our way to the Mt. Vernon Trail from Crystal City. The trail had not even been touched since the last two storms. Tons of people had attempted to run in it, so there was 6″ of packed uneven ice from where footsteps had been, in some places, it was about a foot of ice/packed snow. We did a little hopping motion up to the beginning of the trail, crossed the very first bridge (a total of probably 2 tenths of a mile) and admitted defeat: not only we were not running, but if we kept on trying we would come home with at the very least, a sprained ankle.
We turned around and headed back home, with our tails in between our legs.
Karl and I talked about it, and decided that though there’s no way in hell we can run 9 miles in a treadmill (the boredom might just kill me), we could do it in 3 sections of 3 miles each. We went over to our building’s gym. All treadmills were taken, of course (have I mentioned there are no cleared sidewalks by us?).
So we headed over to our old gym, and 3 looooong miles later (have I mentioned I hate the treadmill?), we went off to have sushi, then off to my sister’s for a bit, then back home for more. Turns out, our 2 hour visit to my sister became a 6 hour visit, and we headed back home after dinner. We decided to forgo the treadmill, and attempt to run in DC the next day. We heard Hains Point was cleared.
Sunday, we woke up past noon. At almost 2pm, we finally drove to DC. We parked, ran down to the tip of Hains Point, and kept on going up Ohio Dr., passing West Potomac Park, and approaching the National Mall and the Memorial Bridge. At the halfway point, we made our way back to the car.
I was feeling GREAT. The run just felt right. Granted, I was going much slower than usual, but since coming back from vacation, I haven’t yet been able to run my long runs without stopping to walk. Meanwhile, I ran 9 miles without even once considering a walk break. Everything was right — the temperature (it was 50 degrees!), the conversation, the pace. Sure, I hit my wall during the last mile and it sucked. But I still pushed it through.
It took me 1:55 to complete the 9 miles. Yep, I usually run 10 miles in less time than that. But for someone who hasn’t run 9 miles since early October, this was a success, not a defeat. I’ve had two breaks due to injuries (internal heel bleeding that was misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis and two (!!!) sprained ankles — stupid high heels on slippery wet floors), I had the flu, and a total of 4 weeks vacation, where I didn’t run at all.
At the beginning of our Sunday run, I was telling Karl how I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run the Half Marathon. Sure, I would finish it, but I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing running. I had accepted that. My fear now, however, was that I wasn’t going to be able to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler — certainly a bigger failure, as I have ran it before with no issues.
Now, my faith has been regained. Sure I got home feeling sore and Karl promptly massaged my legs (it sounds way more pleasant than it was — I was in pain). I’m a month away from the half marathon, if I can keep up with my weekday runs, which has been the hardest so far (have I mentioned snow? Ice? Darkness?), I can keep up with my long runs. There are no more excuses at this point.
It might just be, that by then, I got back to my old (still slow just not as slow) pace, and be able to finish the Cherry Blossom with the same pace as last year.
Will I ever get faster? I certainly hope so. But regaining the distance is a small success I’m cherishing now.