Sunday, August 07, 2011

'That's how we f*cken do it'

The last word on a 20 miler, that's what I said to myself after today's long run. Memorable as it was challenging. I was tired, and had just run through crappy weather. I stretched my calves and as I stood there, dripping, looking at the 20 miles on my watch, my body convulsed. What was that? Dare I say it, was it sobbing? Yes, that's a weird feeling, but I went with it. Tears of exhaustion, joy, pain?

This morning, I tucked a transit token into my short pocket. Omen? It was an odd choice because I usually wrap a $10 or $20 in plastic wrap in case I'd need to buy a drink or mid-run Gatorade. Not today, just a token, my little way out in case things went wrong. And as I was about to head out on today's 20 miler, I stopped by my running stash and pulled out the BodyGlide. It had rained earlier that morning and I wasn't going to take any chances.

The first half of the run was uneventful. It was misting, spitting, or that little bit of welcome spritzing on a very humid morning. The trails were a little quiet at 7 a.m. but I was making my way out for a big out and back. 10 miles out, then the return home. I've been finding it a little tough finding a faster pace on these long runs, but I spent a good 30 minutes yesterday with the roller on my calves, and my legs were feeling a lot more fresh.

In a lot of cases, it was your typical summer long run. Podcast episodes came and went, and I was sucking in the Gatorade at the proper intervals. The humid air was stifling.

On my way back, the misty rain turned into rain. Then rain turned into pelts. Then it turned into a full on torrential downpour. My shades were fogging over and I could barely see. I was running under storefront awnings, even ducked into an entrance for a minute or two. What the hell, I thought, lets go, but 500 metres later, seeing a college campus and plenty of dry space, I sought shelter. Waited. And waited. As I was hoping downpour would die down.

Actually considered using that token as the streetcar stopped nearby. Only considered, but it wasn't happening. So after 15 minutes, I set out for the 8 miles home.

So I was getting soaked, and although I hate to start my runs in the rain, a summer rain in the middle ain't that bad. I was thanking myself for the BodyGlide coating, hoping my iPod would survive and tried not to jump into too many puddles (there were mini lakes forming by the sidewalk). Many a shop keeper or someone seeking shelter got a good laugh from my exploits and were waving at me. "You're swimming," one shop owner said as I strode directly into a puddle.

As I reentered the waterfront path, I saw more runners. We all waved at each other. Camaraderie in the misery. The rain was cooling, clinging, refreshing, but weighing on my clothes. The feet were soaked but my legs felt great. The last few metres, just as I entered the courtyard leading to my condo, I saw my Garmin click over 32.2K, a perfect out-and-back metre.

Travelled so far. Dripping. Exhausted. Hard core. Happy. "This is how we f*cken do it", I muttered to no one in particular. To remind myself that it was true, I said it again just before leaning into my post-run stretches and eventual sobs. I had no shame, I was soaked to the bone anyways.