Sunday, August 2, 2009

If only I had that big set of steps.

I would have totally looked like Rocky Balboa today.

Minus the beat-up grey sweats, big bulging muscles and male anatomy. Oh, and this is New York City, not Philadelphia. But whatever ... I was quite studly this morning.

I missed my long run Saturday with my team because Mike and I were out of town for a wedding. So today was my make-up run. And boy, did I sweat the anticipation of it. 12 miles, all on my own. No TNTers next to me, no nervous chatter as we ponder what route the coaches are going to take us on, no high-fives as we finish up. (Yes, we high-five. Builds team camaraderie.) I panicked Saturday when I realized that I would have to do this All. On. My. Own.

Let's back up first and review the previous 24 hours. The wedding we went to on Friday night was a great opportunity to catch up with good friends. That's code for: we drank a lot. And we know this because I start taking pictures like this:

Not only did we drink a lot, a few of us actually did a pizza and beer run at 2 a.m. In Reading, PA. (And if you'll allow me to get all Zagat-y for a second, you wouldn't think you'd have much choice at 2 a.m., but Maria's downtown, while a keeping a "colorful clientele" that seems to be "drinking away their cares - and their paychecks" also serves up a "more than respectable" large 22-inch pie and, even better, "every beer you can imagine" sold in 6 and 12-packs to go.)

So after a long drive back home Saturday, Mike in the passenger seat holding his head in belief that it might keep his hangover from reaching other parts of his body, I started doubting that I would be able to bang out 12 miles on my own the next morning.

See, I've settled into a routine leading up to the Saturday runs. I start worrying Thursday, which leads nicely into a full-blown anxiety attack on Friday night. More specifically, however, I have taken very seriously our coaches' advice on hydrating and eating right in the couple of days before. I drink copious amounts of water and throw in some Gatorade here and there. And I do serious carb loading on Friday night, which consists of a huge plate of pasta and bread that I eat while watching "The Ghost Whisperer." (Don't judge. Jennifer Love Hewitt can act. And I totally believe she sees dead people.)

I'm still researching, but I don't think drinking club soda with your vodka counts as hydration. So I was feeling a little dusty as we got home last night. While I managed to get in a plate of pasta for dinner, I think I was still feeling the effects of a night of complete and total dehydration. Even so, I dutifully got up at 6 a.m. on a dreary Sunday morning so I could eat breakfast and mentally prepare for my solo run.

By the time I got to CP and had stretched to start the first of two loops, it appeared I got my hydration after all. It started to drizzle. And by the time I started my ascent up Harlem Hill, it was a full-blown downpour. I won't lie: it was a tough run. I had no one to chat with, no one to push me up the hills. I used everything in my Fuel Belt. (By the by, I had my inaugural Gu. Vanilla. Kind of like gummy frosting, but I totally didn't gag! Yay me!) It was when I was finishing the first loop, a little slower pace than usual, that I realized the furious storm I had been running in for nearly an hour had me so soaking wet that my running clothes now weighed about 53 pounds on my body.

But while I had to work a bit harder and I'm pretty sure stepping out of my routine for a weekend didn't help, I started feeling really empowered by my rain run. I felt strong and motivated and may have even been smiling as I noticed other runners - mostly men - who were going clockwise to my counter-clockwise on the loop giving me an approving look, probably inspired by my tenacity and perseverance. (Note to self: if it looks like rain, stay away from the white running shirts).

And as I made my way back to where I began at 90th Street, I started feeling a bit of pride in not blowing off a solo run ... and actually finishing over 12 miles. I couldn't help but hum the Rocky theme and raise my fists up a bit.

But not all the way over my head. I may high-five but I'm not a total loser.

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