Monday, January 30, 2012

One of Those Mornings

Just one of those mornings.

"Houston, we have problem..."
On Saturday, I merged onto the highway, the sun piercing through the windshield. I reached up for the visor when it dawned on me, “F#$%!” I blurted out. Not only had I forgotten my wallet, but I owed one of my friends breakfast that morning. Then I slowed down.

Tom Hanks' character from Apollo 13 popped into my head, and I heard him mutter that "hopefully this is the glitch” for their mission, or in this case, for my morning. And then I immediately regretted the thought remembering how the rest of the movie panned out.

On my ride down the eerily barren Virginia highways, I thought about my run for the morning. My ambitious half marathon plan called for a 10 mile progression run. Not only would it be my first attempt at double digits since spraining my ankle, but also only my second speed workout of the New Year.

I vacillated between turning it into a “time on my feet run” where I just got in the mileage versus the “court the pain” type of workout to shock my system into real training again. When I pulled into Dangerfield Marina at the 12 mile mark of the Mt. Vernon Trail, I still didn’t have a clue.

So, I started with some dynamic stretching and decided to hit the bathroom one more time. I felt my spirits lifting and the adrenaline begin to bring my sleepy limbs to life at the prospect of a long run again. Then I laughed. “Long run.”

I already knew it would feel funny plugging 10 miles into my training log as a “long run,” but I would relish seeing the pink shaded bar next to all those green “easy” bars. Remember when 10 miles was just any old evening. When I was in.

I got to the bathroom door. Locked. See response above. I ducked into the bushes and took care of business.

When I returned to the car, I pulled my water bottle from my backpack, locked the car, and started walking toward the trail. Something didn’t seem right, but I kept going. When I looked down at my watch, it hit me: I’d forgotten the hand-sleeve for my water bottle. See response above. “Houston….” So, I carried it with my like a fat, sloshing baton. For 10 miles.

I started at an easy pace still unsure of exactly what to do with this workout, but only knowing that I’d be covering double digits. I wore an old pair of GT 2160s instead of my lighter DS Trainers for the extra support. But I’d broken the 500 mile threshold on those old Asics and just felt clunky as I meandered along the Potomac River toward Mt. Vernon.

At the first mile, I glanced at my wrist and raised my eyebrows at the 7:29 pace that felt strangely comfortable. I began to flirt again with the idea of “courting the pain.” I came barreling through Old Town Alexandria and seemed to find the stride I’d forgotten on my five miler earlier in the week.

When I left Old Town behind, I had a mile to go to the turnaround. I weaved around idling joggers and found that the pace had dropped naturally to 6:45. My body had decided for me. And I channeled Greg McMillan’s advice to “Give each workout a purpose.”

My watch beeped at the 5 mile mark and I did a slow seagull turn then hit the gas. Let’s get uncomfortable, I thought.

The morning came alive. It was a rare (or rare for this winter) brisk morning and the same sun that blinded me in the morning, energized me as I climbed my way up Union Street and through Old Town again. “Looking good!” a runner called out to me. I waved and recognized that this was the second time we’d crossed paths this morning. It gave me an extra surge and I rounded the corner that would lead me out the other side of Old Town once again.

My shoulders began to ache from the water bottle. I kept switching hands but every time I carried it on my left side, my heart rate shot up. I let my arms fall to my side and shook them out.

I took one more glance at my watch and saw 6:22. Hold on, now, I said to myself as the fatigue started to seep into my quads. I tried to tell my lungs to tell my legs to stay in gear.

With a half mile to go, I could see the stop sign that would indeed mark the stopping point for this run. I closed my eyes for a moment and focused on my form. I wanted to send those 2160s out on a high note, one last good run.

I clicked my watch and brought my hands to my head, letting the cold air fill my lungs.

The strain came to my legs and I walked gingerly back to the car. I looked at my watch and saw 1:09:11.

Just one of those mornings.


  1. You are a machine, Brad. Plain and simple. I am definitely in awe of your ability to just bang out mile splits the way you do. Glad you had a great long run this weekend, welcome back!

  2. Nicely done. Good mood lifter to get you back.


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