Sunday, June 28, 2009

Change Up

I wasn't planning on running until I put on my shoes and headed out the door. My knee had been tender, especially on stairs lately so I haven't pushed myself at all. The most I had done for the last 4 days was the daily one mile dog walk. So, by now, I had enough of sitting around.

Driving around post, I was thinking of changing things up. Firstly, I put on my older Brooks Adrenaline 8 shoes, the predecessor to it's upgrade that I usually wear. I thought that maybe I needed to get back to switching off between two shoes to avoid overuse injuries. Then, I added coconut water to my powerade zero to try out the natural carbs and extra potassium for avoiding leg cramps and soreness. I also decided to get out of the forest and run some open road. Maybe running the technical trail every time was wearing out my knee... I thought a smoother surface might be in order. Smooth, but it was not flat I should add. Lastly, I had received my Clif Bar samples and wanted to try something. I opened up the Blueberry Luna Moons and popped one in with a couple big swigs of my mixed brew. It was much better than the Clif Shot Bloks. Much better. It tasted a lot more natural and it was a smaller serving. Another change in this run - no iPod. I had forgotten my headphones and anyway it's against Fort Rucker rules to wear headphones while running near roads.
I decided to start my run near the beginning/ending of my last 8 mile run on Hatch road. This 3 mile section spreads from the Engineer/Hatch road intersection, past the Chinook helicopters at Knox ARMY Heliport to the Hanche Heliport turn where the Apache and Kiowa pilots train. It would be just a few hills, some new scenery and low traffic. My first concern though was where to park. I pulled into Knox AHP, where an MP was staked out and asked him for suggestions. He was super helpful and said parking on the side of the road is fine but recommended a hidden parking lot just behind the tarmac. So this way I would start my run at the Chinook AHP and use my GPS watch to just mark out when to turn around.
I take off and in the 1st mile I decided to run 6 that day, as long as my knee felt good. I also realized I had left my Powerade/Coconut brew on top my car. Great, it'll boil there until I returned. The sun was blazing at about 92 degrees. The southern sunlight is totally different than back home in Kansas too. The only way I can explain it is that it's just really intense.
Pretty quickly my run deteriorated. Although there was a storm coming and thunder in the distance, shady spots of road seemed far and few between. Energy just seemed to leak out of my body. The missing hydration was a little bit of a mental blow as well as physical. I decided the best thing to do was shorten my loop. Not total distance, just shorten my out-and-back to 1.5 miles so I can return to my car halfway and reassess the situation.
I noticed after peeing in the woods that I had these black specks all over my legs. Looking closer, they were just bits of plant debris. Whew, thought they could be small bugs.
And at 3 miles, I reached my car, grabbed my warm water and chugged a good bit. My stomach had been cramping and my sweat was really cool on my body which I read is a sign of heat exhaustion. It was obviously really hot outside and I felt really hot, but there's also a chill close to my skin. My body was workin hard to bring down the internal temps. I sat for a bit in my car, which I don't normally do. My thoughts were pretty negative...
"You just did 10 last weekend and you can't even do 3 now?"
"You're walking waaaay too much, you should be going faster."
"People are totally watching you from the heliport and stressing you're a bomber...quit looking at the gate guards so much."
"My knee is gonna give out..."
"Wow, my shirt is soaked."
"Maybe peeing again would help my stomach cramps... or throwing up."
"Maybe I ate too soon to running, ...too much sugar... too much new stuff...."
"Why can't I look like the Runners World covers all tan, sweat gleaming, and effortless form.."

As if the run isn't hard enough.
I decided I felt a little better. I grabbed a water bottle and headed back out to double my mileage. Within the first mile I was considering turning around. My body just felt exhausted.
I looked down at my legs with the specks still on them and they seemed to be moving individually. Maybe they were bugs after all! I bent down to look closer.. Naw, they're not moving. I picked one on my hand - definitely plant parts. Geesh.
Okay, now it's time for my own mental tricks. I invited tiredness to jump on my back and I accepted how I felt. I kept telling myself something a civil war soldier in The Blue and The Gray would tell himself: the body can go farther than the mind. My running friend texted and I put her on speaker and told her how I felt. She encouraged me and it helped. Laughing and smiling I got off the phone. A mile or two down the road a cyclist that had whizzed past me before, waving, now slowed down to almost a stop and asked me if I had enough water. Awe. Damn, that was nice. I assured him I did and after commiserating about the heat he started grinding up the hill that was in front of us, hooping and hollering. I was smiling again and soon enough I saw the Chinook, monstrous on a runway, before me and that meant my car was near. I finished 6 miles. Not the longest run I've done my any means, but it wasn't the easiest to lay down either.


  1. AWW YAY I love this post! Oh and btw...the runners world runners arent really running in those pics....they are posing thats why they look so perfect..Damn them! They need to put them on there all red faced and sweaty!

  2. true!! haha - that's me, red face!