|Sometimes the sunrises are worth waking up |
early and lacing up the sneakers
My manager suckered me back into Walking League, and last Wednesday was my first time back. They've started a separate path for running. It's a one-mile course that goes around a few sports fields and I found myself running over hilly grass, gravel, and occasional sidewalk. I only made three miles, but considering it had been about a month since the last time I even wore my running shoes, I put that experience in the 'win' column. The duct tape on my heels (the shoes rub my Achilles tendons on both feet) gave out near the beginning of the second mile, so even though I had enough time to do another 1/2 mile I decided to stop. When I got home that night, I brutally warped my shoes, repeatedly bending back the part that rubbed on my tendon.
Thursday morning, I had crazy-sore muscles in a brand new place: the outsides of my thighs, where they meet my hips. I chalked this up to the uneven terrain from Wednesday. After some stretching and ibuprofen, I was fine. Then I spent all day Friday in the theme parks with family, and the left side got sore all over again. The silver lining there was I wore my running shoes all day with no trouble. Apparently the shoes have been beaten into submission!
This morning, I set the alarm for 6:15 and got up to run. My goal was 5 or 6 miles. For whatever reason, my pace was slow from the get-go, but as long as I was running the speed didn't matter. The big loop around my neighborhood is 1.5 miles, and by the end of the first mile I had settled into my (slow) pace and didn't get winded, form blisters, or otherwise lose my motivation. Right when I hit mile 5, I realized that my sore hip muscle had come back with a vengeance, and it was cramping up. It felt like a Charlie horse in the WAY wrong place. Since my initial goal was 5 or 6, I considered turning right and heading back toward the house. But I turned left. I actually committed myself to the last mile.
That's right, I voluntarily ran a mile in pain, albeit loping a little like someone whose legs were different lengths. I walked funny to stretch the muscle, ran my intervals as scheduled (because running actually hurt less), and made it to my goal and then some: 6.05 miles. My race pace should've been just about 1:30-1:36, and I came in right at 1:40. That's a snail's pace, but I'm just glad I finished. I no longer feel like the half marathon I've got 11 weeks from yesterday (and the other one I've got 12 weeks from today) is an insurmountable goal.
So...wondering about the title of the post? Well, today is the first time I can really recall running through muscle pain. Aside from my various foot ailments, my only other running injury to date was an occasionally sore knee. And generally speaking, I chicken out when there's pain involved. But I know what a sore muscle feels like and knew I wouldn't do any actual damage to myself if I kept going. And I kept going. And I'm still sore, but it's nothing I can't handle.
Today, the sunrise,the rainbow, and all the friendly neighborhood dogs weren't my only rewards. Today I'm wearing my sore muscle like a badge of honor. Tomorrow, however, I'd like to be pain-free. Seems that would be a way better reward!