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Breaking Me Down

It's 2:30am. I cannot sleep. I cannot sleep because I decided to do my long run at 8:00pm, which, after all of the several-minute water breaks were factored in, turned into a nearly 3.5-hour run. Two things that I always thought should happen after a long run but still never do: I get hungry, I get tired.

I look at the calorie burn on my RunKeeper app, and I see that I've burned 1,709 calories. That's some people's daily intake of calories. This makes me think I should be hungry. Yet, I'm not. My stomach feels so tight and full from water that food is actually repulsive immediately after a long run. But I eat anyway, for recovery purposes. Tonight I had half of Greek yogurt cup (protein), half of a banana (potassium, carbs), and a large bowl of cereal (just because I love cereal, and I thought it might be good; it was, until my stomach hurt afterward). But I'll rectify this matter by making up the deficiency tomorrow. In case you were worried.

But what's worse--for the moment, anyway--is that I don't get tired after a long run. On the contrary, I feel wired. This is not usually a problem, as my long runs are not typically before bed. They usually take place early in the morning. That was supposed to happen this morning, as well. I did all of my night-before prepping: I ordered my dinner for pick-up at my favorite Thai restaurant (a pre-race meal of tofu, vegetables, and rice that has never failed me), I ate earlier than usual so I could go to bed earlier than usual, I did nothing all night but watch my most recent Netflix DVDs (Dexter--disturbing and a bit gruesome, but captivating nonetheless), and I went to bed around 10:00pm (it's the best I can do). I set four alarms for 4:30, 4:35, 4:40, and--you guessed it--4:45am. I went to sleep easily, which is usually the case. I remember waking up to the first alarm, thinking okay, okay, I'll get up, but after the next alarm. I probably thought that each time a new alarm went off, which led to my eventual awakening at 7:30am. There was no way I would go outside to run 16 miles starting at 7:30am, in summer, in Florida. I'm like a vampire in the sun; it weakens me and destroys me (my last Netflix DVD was True Blood). So I decided I'd just try again on Sunday morning. But I was so bothered by my failure to get up on time that I wanted to fix it even sooner. So I decided I'd try another night run. I had sworn these off after last Friday night's long run, which was "only" 11 miles, but it sucked the life out of me. Somehow, though, it seemed possible again. That's another problem with running: as long as I finish a run relatively unscathed, I forget almost instantly how awful it was, and I talk myself into doing it again. And again. I hear the same thing happens after childbirth.

An evening run would require yet another day of prepping; but mostly just dietary prepping. This, for me, means eating lower-fiber foods, to prevent stomach issues during the run (which has been a longtime affliction of mine). These foods usually consist of white bread or white rice and either tofu or fish. I've learned that I can also eat vegetables, but they have to be cooked--and usually just squash and zucchini (it's limiting, I know). So I had a roasted veggie baguette sandwich with goat cheese from Sophie's for lunch (yum!) and the aforementioned rice/fish/veggies for dinner. I made sure to finish eating at least two hours before my planned departure time of 8:00pm, except for half of a Power Bar (cookies 'n' cream) that I would eat about an hour before the run.

All of my preparation was done, including about a half-hour of rolling out tight IT bands (ouch!), and it was finally time to head out to Bayshore Boulevard. I'd been feeling anxious about this run all day, so I had some good energy to use. The day had been mostly overcast, which took some of the heat out of the atmosphere, and the sun was most of the way down. Everything was going fine, and then about four miles in, someone came up to my left. I turned to see a familiar face from one of my running clubs. He said, "You're Lee, right?" We'd never been introduced, so I was a little surprised he knew my name, but I confirmed that I was indeed Lee. He then said, "You're training for Chicago, right?" That was a little weirder. I'm still not sure how he knew that. But he ran with me for a bit (i.e., slowed down for a bit), and we chatted for a while. He was also training for Chicago and running 16 miles, but he was already 13 miles in. I noticed that I'd picked up my pace quite a bit while running with him, which is a terrible idea for me so early in the run. But I wouldn't let myself slow down. I even told him he should feel free to pick the pace back up and go ahead of me, but he said it didn't matter how fast he ran as long as he completed the mileage. Great. Luckily, though, he eventually needed to cross the street for a water stop, and I didn't. As soon as he left, I could feel the detrimental effects of my brief stint with picking up my own pace (something I rarely do). It took me some time to steady out again and find my regular pace.

I ran to my usual park, Ballast Point, which is where I typically stop for a water break, although aside from the water fountains and the well-populated fishing pier, it was closed because of the time, meaning no lights. I still needed to run several miles past it. But because it was so dark, and late, I started to get scared and cut my distance short, knowing I'd have to make it up closer to home--which I hate doing. In an effort to try to get some more distance in before heading back, I ran down some residential streets that were fairly well-lit, but I got a little turned around, which ended up being kind of good because it added to my mileage. Finally, I had enough mileage to head back toward home. This part of my typical Bayshore long-run route is usually good, because I've gone more than halfway, and all I have to do is get myself home. But this run home consisted of many stops and starts, backtracking for yet more distance, and lots and lots of water. Water down my throat, water on my head, down my back, in my eyes--I even stood in someone's sprinkler in the middle of the yard. Here's one more problem with running in summer: I need water, and often feel like I can't get enough, but if I drink too much too fast, it sits in my stomach and bounces around as I run. I can hear it. But I can also feel it. It's not comfortable, and it usually leads to cramps, or side stitches. Which it did tonight. That slowed me down and even stopped me at times.

But I made it. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I may not have done it straight through--by a longshot; but I made my mileage, damnit.

And here I sit, still wired, yet also hobbling from room to room. I know what would help this sore body of mine: sleep. Oh, right, I can't.

P.S. Now I'm hungry.

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